The world’s largest grid-scale battery is set to grow by 50 per cent, with a $71 million upgrade announced for the 100 MW/129 MWh Tesla-built Hornsdale Power Reserve battery in Jamestown, South Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has allocated $8 million to Neoen Australia for the 50 MW/64.5 MWh expansion, to demonstrate the ability for grid-scale batteries to provide inertia services and fast frequency responses to the grid.

The project will also receive $15 million over five years from the South Australian Government’s Grid Scale Storage Fund, with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) committing $50 million. The total project cost includes financing and development costs in addition to capex.

In what would be a first for the National Electricity Market (NEM), the project will provide an evidence base for further reform and innovation in grid management, including working with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to test and demonstrate the capability of battery control systems to provide digital inertia replacing the mechanical inertia traditionally provided by synchronous generators. The tests could help to reduce current curtailment of solar PV and wind generation in South Australia.

Neoen will also work with AEMO to provide an evidence base to support an update of the current Market Ancillary Services Specifications to increase the permissible level of Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) registration for all providers, enabling large-scale batteries to provide this service to their full extent and unlock revenue streams to provide a commercial pathway for other large-scale batteries.

As with vehicle suspension on an uneven road, inertia services are essential for stabilising the grid when electricity supply and demand fluctuate. Providing inertia from large batteries is a demonstration of global significance and is in addition to the battery’s existing role as a “shock absorber” during disturbances.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve will be upgraded with Tesla’s Virtual Machine Mode, which allows the advanced power inverters to emulate the existing inertia services being supplied by an aging fleet of fossil fuel power plants.

The level of inertia that would be provided by the Hornsdale Power Reserve could match half of the total needs of South Australia. This Australian-first battery technology will trial responding to supply fluctuations by automatically and rapidly charging and discharging.

By imitating the behaviour of the existing fossil fuel-based services, the Hornsdale Power Reserve can arrest any grid frequency deviations through a clean and regenerative substitute.

AEMO has identified that the South Australian grid requires 6,000 megawatt seconds (MWs) to maintain a secure operating level of inertia. It is anticipated that Hornsdale Power Reserve as expanded could provide up to 3,000MWs of inertia.

The expansion could also allow for an increased power flow limit to the Heywood interconnector, resulting in an improvement in spot prices when importing energy from Victoria.

Tesla, who built the original battery in less than nine months in 2017, will deliver the project on a full turn key construction basis.

As South Australia continues to increase the share of renewable energy generation, large-scale storage such as grid-scale batteries will help address challenges facing South Australia’s power system, including reliability and inertia.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said large-scale batteries will play a key role in ensuring reliability of supply and support for power system security, as Australia transitions to renewable energy.

“Large-scale batteries are playing an important role in providing short-term, large-scale energy storage to help firm and balance the grid,” Mr Miller said.

“The Hornsdale battery is a groundbreaking project that has proven what batteries can do for our electricity system, and this expansion will now show that it is capable of much more by demonstrating inertia, expanded FCAS functionality and extended support for the Heywood interconnector.

“Along with providing essential services to the South Australian grid, this will help to inform the regulatory changes required to value these services and create additional revenue markets for other batteries to enter the market on a commercial basis.

“We hope this project will not only demonstrate the versatility of batteries in providing a range of grid services but also help pave the way for market reform.”

South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said, “With this expansion, the Hornsdale Power Reserve will continue to break new ground in providing and proving up the benefits of inertial response from inverter technologies.

“By providing an additional 50MW of fast-ramping market capacity it is designed to reduce spot price volatility and protect the grid from network disturbances, resulting in more affordable, reliable and secure power for all South Australians.”
This is the first project to receive financing from the State Government’s Grid Scale Storage Fund which is designed to accelerate the deployment of new storage projects in South Australia that can address the intermittency of the state’s electricity supply.

The capacity increase is expected to be completed by mid-2020, strengthening the Hornsdale Power Reserve’s position as the largest utility-scale battery in the world.

Louis de Sambucy, Managing Director Neoen Australia, said, “The expansion of Hornsdale Power Reserve is demonstrating the critical and multiple roles that batteries will play in the grid of the future.”

CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said, “The Hornsdale Power Reserve has already delivered substantial benefits to South Australia, providing grid reliability, reducing energy costs and integrating the state’s substantial renewable energy resources into the grid. It is an exciting model that can be extended across the grid to improve security.

“The CEFC is increasingly focused on catalysing investment opportunities in Australia’s energy transmission system, to capitalise on the benefits of Australia’s abundant low-emissions renewable energy resources.

“We are increasingly working with market participants to develop long-dated opportunities around grid augmentation, including transmission, interconnectors and renewable energy zones, as well as hydro, grid-scale battery storage and hydrogen.

“We are excited by the potential to follow this first investment in the Hornsdale Power Reserve with investments in other innovative technologies to accelerate our transition to a low-emissions electricity grid.”

Siobhan Day is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and Pump Industry magazine, and has been part of the team since early 2019. With a background in management in the non-profit sector, Siobhan has extensive experience in communications, professional writing and client management. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Communications and is currently completing a postgraduate degree.

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