In late 2017, the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia was built by Tesla for the renewable energy company Neoen, with a battery storage capacity of 100 megawatts (MW). It has since been expanded to 150 megawatts. Although the idea of what was at the time the largest lithium-ion battery in the world was met with skepticism (particularly from those with ties to the fossil fuel industry), Neoen claims that the $90 million facility lowered grid related costs by $76 million in South Australia in 2019 and continues to save the utility as it allows greater integration of renewables and provides power during times of peak demand.
Now, Neoen has announced that Tesla will supply its Megapack batteries for a new 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery system called the Victoria Big Battery (VBB). Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has agreed to supply $160 million in financing for what will be one of the largest batteries in the world.
“We are on track to deliver this project before the next Australian summer and are looking forward to playing our part in helping Victoria reach its ambitious target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” Neoen Australia’s managing director Louis de Sambucy said in a Neoen news release.
In addition to employing Tesla’s Megapack batteries, the VBB will sell power to the grid using Tesla’s Autobidder software. Autobidder works in real-time and is a trading and control platform that sells the electrical energy stored in the Megapacks at a fraction of the speed and cost of bringing traditional natural gas peaker systems online. Autobidder is already used at the Hornsdale facility to help manage power flow and enhance revenue. According to Tesla, “Autobidder was designed to collaborate with and augment the capabilities of human operators. Autobidder continuously executes transactions in the market using a numerical optimization model that is based on the parameters set and adjusted by a human operator, reflecting the preferences of the trading desk.”
There are a number of large-scale battery projects that are underway in Australia. Origin Energy has plans to build a 700-megawatt battery at its Eraring coal-fired power station in New South Wales—a battery that would be the nation’s largest. AGL has announced plans to roll out 1,000 megawatts of battery storage across several sites.
Meanwhile, Xavier Barbaro, Neoen’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer said, “We are thrilled to be building our second big battery in Australia. The Victorian Big Battery once again demonstrates the value of innovative solutions that Neoen is proud to be pioneering. At 300 MW, it will be one of the largest batteries in the world, taking our total capacity in operation or under construction in Australia to over 1.8 gigawatts, and bringing us one step closer to our global target of 5 gigawatts by the end of 2021.”
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.