South Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve readies for 50% expansion

The output and storage of South Australia’s Hornsdale power reserve, also known as the state’s “big Tesla battery,” looks likely to grow by approximately 50% in the next few weeks, should the project’s final tests run smoothly.

The state’s government says the expansion will make an extra 50 MW of power available to the market.

Energy Minister Dan Van Holst Pelekaan told ABC News the boost would further stabilise the state’s grid, which is heavily reliant on renewable energy.

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“We’re making the biggest battery in the world 50% bigger, but we’re also making it do more for consumers,” said Pelekaan.

The minister said the expansion would allow significant amounts of energy to enter the grid almost instantaneously.

“To do that in large amounts very quickly is what we need to provide voltage support and frequency support so our grid stays stable.”

The minister said testing would not impact the grid’s functionality.

“This is really about testing the battery’s interface with the grid rather than testing the grid or generators or any other part,” he said.

The battery was built in 2017 under by a consortium including Tesla, and French renewables company Neoen.

The expansion project was announced late in 2019.

Mr Van Holst Pelekaan said the battery, at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, has delivered more than $150 million in savings in its first two years of operation.

“Upon successful completion of testing in the next few months, we expect these savings will continue to grow,” he said.

“The increase in storage power and capacity mean a faster response to disturbances such as network faults, so that within milliseconds the Hornsdale Power Reserve can help stabilise the grid.

“In demonstrating the benefits that batteries can provide, this will help inform the regulatory changes required to create new markets which attract new technologies to support renewable energy.”

The South Australian Government committed $15 million to the project, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency contributed $8 million.

According to Neoen, testing would ensure the expansion met “high performance standards”.

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