December 6, 2018 Read More →

A year in, Tesla’s big Australian battery proves viability of energy storage

Bloomberg:

A year after Elon Musk rolled out what was then the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery to aid South Australia’s blackout-prone power grid, more projects are set to follow in its footsteps at home and abroad.

The Hornsdale storage facility — the result of Musk’s successful wager that he could build and get it up and running within 100 days — has helped the state stabilize the grid, avoid outages and lower costs. Its success is a boost to other plants commissioned around the world, including a larger one in South Korea.

The battery system is designed to overcome one of the main obstacles to renewable energy taking a bigger role globally: reliability falters when the wind stops blowing or the sun goes down. Batteries store up power and then release it steadily to the grid when generation stalls.

The storage industry is increasingly important in places like South Australia, which has less access to traditional fossil-fuel sources like coal and gas. Hornsdale has performed an important function in providing frequency control services and its “speed and laser precision in response to system events has been encouraging,” the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said in an emailed response to questions.

The plant earned Neoen about 8.1 million euros ($9.2 million) in the first half of 2018 from a supply contract with the South Australian government and independent sales of stored electricity, helping to pay back some of its 56 million euro price tag. It has also contributed to an almost 75 percent drop in the cost of ancillary services to the grid, according to Bloomberg NEF.

The big question for the renewables industry is whether battery storage can be expanded to shore up baseload generation, as fossil fuels’ dominance in the power mix declines. Neoen’s Heron said battery storage was “absolutely scaleable,” and the company has plans for at least two more battery storage facilities in Australia. Liberty House chief Sanjeev Gupta wants to eclipse Hornsdale with an 120 megawatt plant in South Australia.

More: Musk’s Outback success points to bright future for battery storage

Comments are closed.