FRANCK WOITIEZ NEOEN AUSTRALIA
IT’S been more than two months since US tech giant Tesla flipped the switch on the 100 MW mega battery, which has allowed wind energy to be delivered to the grid at any time –whether the wind is blowing or not – and provide emergency back-up power when shortfalls are predicted.
Elizabeth Fabri spoke with Neoen Australia managing director Franck Woitiez about the world-first project and their next big collaboration with the global tech giant.
Q. How does the new Hornsdale Power Reserve work?
Hornsdale Power Reserve is the world’s largest lithium-ion battery.
In conjunction with the Hornsdale Wind Farm, it provides reliable power into the South Australian electricity network during peak times, with frequency control services to maintain stability, acting as a lifeguard for our power network.
It is designed to enhance network security and keep the lights on during unexpected events.
The battery instantly reacts whenever there are unexpected line outages or generator failures.
This provides the network operator with valuable time to rebalance the system and return to normal operation without any disruption to electricity users.
As well as breaking records for its size, Hornsdale Power Reserve has set a new Australian record for the construction and connection time of a large generator, and is the fastest generator in Australia in terms of response times.
Q. The idea for the battery first started during a Twitter exchange between Tesla’s Elon Musk, and software billionaire Mike Cannon-brookes. How did this idea become a reality?
Following the Twitter exchange, the South Australian Government launched a competitive tender to supply up to 100MW of batteries across the South Australian power network.
The procurement process attracted around 90 responses from battery storage manufacturers, including LG Chem, AES and Kokam, and developers such as Zen Energy, Carnegie Clean Energy, and AGL Energy.
Hornsdale Power Reserve was selected as the most competitive commercial offer with the best value for money.
The biggest challenge we faced during the project was the very tight timeline.
It was essential to have the battery operational by December, when the electricity network was expected to encounter substantial strain due to summer heat.
Q. In December when Loy Yang power plant tripped and went offline, the battery delivered 100MW into the national energy grid in 140 milliseconds. How does this response time compare to energy storage options previously relied on?
In its first month of operation, the Hornsdale Power Reserve has already responded to four coal generator trips.
The battery has a proportional response depending on how bad the frequency deviation is. So, it is ready to provide 100 MW during catastrophic events but will only deliver smaller amounts during smaller frequency deviations.
The battery’s response time is significantly faster than that of a typical generator, which will usually respond in a meaningful way within a few seconds.
That might not sound like much, but every millisecond counts in a network that operates at fifty cycles per second.