Tesla’s big battery in South Australia, which was conceived following a bet between billionaires Mike Cannon-Brookes and Elon Musk to help the region with its energy troubles, is about to get a lot bigger. In a recent press release, Neoen confirmed that the Hornsdale Power Reserve will be receiving a 50 MW/64.5 MWh expansion, resulting in the world’s largest lithium-ion battery growing by another 50%.
The expansion of the massive Tesla Powerpack farm will allow the battery installation to expand its services to providing digital or “virtual” inertia to the grid. This is a key service that, prior to the impending Powerpack expansion, was delivered only by synchronous machines, which are usually powered by coal, gas, or hydro. Once completed, the 50 MW/64.5 MWh addition will be capable of providing 3,000 “megawatt seconds,” or 50% of the state’s inertia requirements.
While the initial installation of the Hornsdale Power Reserve was driven primarily by the efforts of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and fellow billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, the expansion of the South Australia big battery is poised to receive the full backing of the local government. The South Australian government, for one, is committing AUD 3 million (USD 2 million) to the project annually for five years in grant funding through its Grid-Scale Storage Fund.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has also committed AUD 8 million (USD 5.46 million) in grant funding through its Advancing Renewables Program. Furthermore, the Powerpack farm expansion will be the first big battery project that would benefit from debt financing support from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
Even before Neoen’s official confirmation, sightings of Powerpack units being transported to the Hornsdale Power Reserve area have been reported across the Tesla community. One such report, shared on YouTube by Hyperchange CEO Galileo Russell, estimated that the expansion will involve the installation of about 500-600 Tesla Powerpacks to the existing big battery. This figure was a rough estimate based on Powerpack sightings and statements from truck drivers who were transporting the battery units to the Hornsdale Power Reserve.
The expansion of the Hornsdale Power Reserve generally bodes well for the ramp of Tesla’s energy business. In recent years, Tesla Energy has mostly taken a step back as the company worked on the Model 3 ramp. Now that Model 3 production is hitting its stride and facilities such as Gigafactory 3 are operational, Tesla is now able to focus more of its efforts in growing its energy business. This could work in Tesla’s favor too, as legendary billionaire investor Ron Baron has estimated that Tesla Energy has the potential to become a $500 billion business on its own.
Watch out Hyperchange‘s report on the initial Tesla Powerpack sightings in the video below.