Australia's Mega-Battery Space to Get Boost from Tesla

In November 2019, Neoen, along with Tesla, announced plans to deliver Australia’s most innovative battery with the expansion of Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, which is also the world’s largest battery, also known as the Tesla Big Battery.

The huge battery by Tesla was established in South Australia in the year 2017 and comprises of a battery system with a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) and storage capacity of 129 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy from wind turbines located in the vicinity.

The expansion planned by Tesla and Neoen is expected to be “the first grid-scale battery in Australia to provide inertia benefits to the National Electricity Market” while enabling the shift towards high-penetration renewable grid.

Neoen and Tesla’s plan involves a 50 MW/64.5 MWh expansion, which is anticipated to represent the complete gains for the National Electricity Market (NEM) and Australian consumers from the grid-scale batteries.

According to Neoen, the battery has helped the consumers to save over $50 million in its first year of operation, and the same is expected to accelerate further as a result of the expansion, which is scheduled to be completed in the first half of the year 2020.

In a bigger picture, the expansion plans are expected to significantly drive Australia's mega-battery space with an expansion plan of around 50%.

Figure 2 Megapack (Source: Tesla)

Every Megapack, the largest battery system of Tesla, from its Gigafactory comes pre-assembled and pre-tested and in a single inclusion comprising of battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls, demanding the consumers to only connect Megapack’s AC output to their site wiring.

Tesla’s consistent efforts and expertise empower the world's largest energy projects, with a 1-Gigawatt hour (GWh) project providing record energy capacity, estimated to be enough to power every home in San Francisco for 6 hours.

With such benefits of reducing environmental impact, electricity burden on consumers, societal welfare and an edge in the world technology space; it is a great opportunity for the South Australian Government to make the most out of it for the national as well as citizens’ interest.

$3 Million Per Year Funding from South Australian Government

As a significant step for the expansion of the project and to secure the delivery of the inertia benefits highly needed by the grid, the South Australian Government has committed $3 million per year for a period of 5 years in grant funding through its Grid-Scale Storage Fund.

In addition to the above, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, has committed to provide $8 million in grant funding through its Advancing Renewables Program for the project.

Tesla also worked in collaboration with the South Australian Government on a Virtual Power Plant, for which the government provided support for developing a community of 50,000+ homes with solar and Powerwall battery systems across the state and ultimately reducing the cost of energy for everyone in the network by sharing energy generated by the sun between homes. With installation already commenced, Tesla anticipates its penetration into South Australia to over 50,000+ homes over the next few years.

Previous Research Findings

A key message from the study carried out by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) and commissioned by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel in the year 2017, read:

Further, the report forecast the rise of renewable energy and presented an optimistic view of the role that storage can likely play in making sure the transformation is in an orderly and controlled manner.

As mentioned by ARENA, the report by ACOLA highlighted the following:

  • The reliability of supply to meet the daily power needs could possibly be attained through a small investment in energy storage, no matter how much the renewables account for the electricity mix by 2030;
  • An increase in storage would likely occur due the persistent need to secure the energy system against structure-wide failure;
  • Improved rewards such as fresh domestic export industries and low energy prices for consumers could be the results from increased investments;
  • Energy storage holds the potential to completely transform the industry structures (physical or economic) that have been empowering markets over the past decades and century;
  • A high renewable energy model (renewables accounting for 75% of the power mix), mid (50%) and low (35%) models combine to be the three different versions of a possible 2030 energy market used in the report;
  • Cost of $43 billion is estimated to meet the storage requirements for the high RE model if only pumped hydro is used or $22 billion comprising of a batteries-only solution,

Bottomline

With the increasing application of renewable sources of energy, the usage of conventional sources is set to decline to benefit the consumers as well as industries. Moreover, with the abundance of resources used in batteries and other renewable energy sources in Australia, Australia can be expected to reach a point of maximum energy efficiency, as it is currently at the beginning of something big.


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