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Huge Tesla battery in South Australia primed for big upgrade

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

The development of utility-scale batteries – capable of storing renewable energy and dispensing it later when conditions for renewable energy production are unfavourable (such as when it is not sunny or windy) – are  considered essential in the global transition away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve was constructed after Elon Musk pledged to build it in 100 days or provide it free of charge.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve was constructed after Elon Musk pledged to build it in 100 days or provide it free of charge.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve was constructed after Mr Musk, the tech entrepreneur, pledged to build it in 100 days or provide it free of charge.

Neoen on Tuesday said the expansion of the Hornsdale battery would be supported by the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which committed $8 million to the project, and by the South Australian government, which has already committed $3 million a year over five years. The project will also be the first battery project in Australia to benefit from debt financing support from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

South Australian Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the battery was continuing to “break new ground”.

“As South Australia continues to increase its share of renewable energy generation, large-scale storage solutions such as grid-scale batteries will help address some of the key challenges impacting South Australia’s power system, such as energy reliability and inertia,” he said.

The site of Tesla's big battery and Neoen's Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia.

The site of Tesla’s big battery and Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia.

“By providing an additional 50 megawatts 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.”

Ian Learmonth, the chief executive of CEFC, said grid-scale batteries were a critical part of the next wave of investment that would support “rapid and unprecedented” changes in Australia’s electricity system.

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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,” he said.

“It is an exciting model that can be extended across the grid to strengthen reliability and maximise the benefits of renewable energy.”

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