While this may not be motoring-specific news, it is an interesting story nonetheless. For those not in loop, American electric vehicle manufacturer, Tesla, came to the rescue of the people of South Australia with a rather large battery. Allow me to explain.
Severe blackouts had been happening to the South Australian power grid caused by massive storms which wreaked havoc on critical infrastructure, leaving some 1.7 million Australians in the dark, literally. Furthermore, a heat wave in the Summer of 2017 caused massive blackouts. The state government needed a solution to their energy woes. And quick.
Tesla joined the conversation after CEO, Elon Musk, tweeted a bet with Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, that Tesla would take up the challenge of building a solution in 100 days from the signed contract, or its free. Game on.
Dubbed the Hornsdale Power Reserve, the energy storage site in Jamestown, SA had a capacity of 100MW thanks to Tesla’s Powerpacks, which are essentially huge lithium-ion energy storage systems. The Powerpack provides the same grid service as peaker plants but cheaper, quicker and with zero local emissions via its battery system.
As you can imagine, the project wasn’t cheap and costed the owner and operator, Neoen, almost $96 million dollars to build – with an annual cost to taxpayers of roughly $4 million dollars for the next 10 years.
However, the large startup cost is offset by the tangible return on investment. According to a record by ABC News, the battery pack was on track to “make revenues of about $25-26 million in its first year”. One of the ways it does that is by charging the battery when the power prices are low and then provide the energy back to the market when prices are high.
But profits aside, this project is a win for the people of South Australia, which it helped. Those two compelling points can only mean one thing – expansion. The world’s biggest lithium-ion battery pack gets bigger. Its capacity is raised by 50 percent from 100MW to 150MW.
“The support of the South Australian Government has been central to the project, alongside its vision of making the state an exporter of renewable energy. The expansion of Hornsdale Power Reserve is demonstrating the critical and multiple roles that batteries will play in the grid of the future. I would also like to acknowledge the great support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to bring forward the critical innovations and regulatory changes that the network requires, and of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for this first financing support for a battery project” said Louis de Sambucy, Managing Director Neoen Australia.