The Hornsdale Power Reserve, also known as the Big Battery, is an example of man’s innovation and ingenuity. The project began when Tesla, Inc. won the contract to construct a power reserve next to the Hornsdale wind farm.
The job would cost $90 million. Tesla CEO Elon Musk put forth a challenge. He stated that the job would be completed within 100 days from the time the contract was signed, or it would be free. The contract was signed on 29 September 2017. Work was finished on 25 November, and the battery was connected to the power grid on 1 December, well within the 100-day wager.
Stephen from Connect Electric said the following, “The Big Battery has a capacity of 100 megawatts and can store up to 129-megawatt hours of energy. The battery stores the energy produced by the nearby wind turbines and releases it when there are slight dips in electricity supply. To give you an idea of scale a battery that size holds enough power to run 30,000 homes for up to 8 hours.”
How Does the Big Battery Work?
Boasted as the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, the Big Battery doesn’t generate power but rather banks it for the area. The state already invests in wind and solar energy. The battery stores power to help provide adequate supply during times of high demand.
This was big news for 1.7 million people living in South Australia. The area was known for having the highest electricity rates in the world. It also experiences frequent blackouts due to an imbalance of supply and demand.
The location was ideal because 48.9% of South Australia’s energy was produced through renewable sources. That number is expected to climb to 73% by 2021.
Upgrading South Australia’s Big Battery
Despite initial uncertainty, the Big Battery has proven its worth as an energy solution. An upgrade was announced in November of 2019 with plans to increase capacity by 50%. The battery would be able to store and supply up to 150 megawatts if all goes to plan.
The South Australian Government promises to pay $15 million towards the expansion while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency supplies another $8 million.
The upgrade will increase storage capacity to 193.5 megawatt-hours, which would enable it to operate at full capacity for over an hour.
Officials look to expansion as a way of adding more security and affordability to the power supply.
“We know that the 100 megawatt capacity of the existing Hornsdale battery has saved South Australia electricity consumers $40 million per year since its inception,” explained SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan.
“This 50% increase in capacity to the battery, plus the additional services that we will receive, will add an additional $47 million per year of savings to South Australia electricity consumers.”
The new project will allow for quicker response time in case of disturbances. It would enable the complex to replicate some of the capabilities of gas or coal power stations. The upgrade would support increased flow to Victoria, which will lower utility costs there as well. It’s another big step in the push for greater reliance on sustainable energy in Australia.