The Australian Energy Review - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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