The Hornsdale Power Reserve received regulatory approval to move forward with an expansion project. The facility is already the largest lithium-ion battery of its kind in the world.
South Australia fielded 90 proposals from 10 countries suggesting several projects back in April of 2017. The original guidelines set forth included a completion date of December of the same year. The goal was to keep the process moving quickly. Funding was easier to secure thanks to international interest in the undertaking.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk added to the list of hopefuls with one significant promise: his team would finish the job within 100 days of signing the contract or the battery would be free. It was a deal that was too good to pass up. The contract was awarded to Tesla.
Musk’s team easily beat his 100-day promise by finishing in just 63 days, making the battery operational in September 2017.
Two years later in November, the capacity was increased by 50%. The expansion was funded by $15 million from the government, $8 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and $50 million in cheap loans issued through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
The Hornsdale Power Reserve is currently owned by independent power company Neoen.
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The Hornsdale Power Reserve had an interesting beginning and continues to impress with its performance. The project has been successful enough to encourage yet another expansion.
On 18 June 2020, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCoSA) approved a variation to the Big Battery’s licence. The change would permit an increase from 100 megawatts to 150 megawatts.
The location would expand from 100MW/129MWh to 150MW/194MWh. There would be additional storage to provide synthetic inertia. The update would allow the facility to deliver more service to the grid, further phasing out some of the community’s reliance on fossil fuel.
This approval also marks a milestone in the South Australian government’s plan to achieve net 100% renewables in the next 10 years.
Hornsdale is one of three big batteries currently in operation. The other locations include Lake Bonney and Dalrymple North. Plans for new facilities are in the works.
The ESCoSA released a statement explaining that “The Commission assessed Hornsdale Power Reserve Pty LTD’s application for an electricity generation licence against the relevant provisions of the Electricity Act 1996 and the Essential Services Commission Act 2002 and determined that all relevant criteria under those Acts have been satisfied. It has therefore approved the application.”
The expansion was originally announced last year with plans to be online in March 2020.
So far, Hornsdale’s battery has been an enormous success for everyone. That includes the state government who signed a 10-year long $40 million contract that guaranteed emergency backup as well as the grid operator, owner, and consumers who utilise its services.
According to Neoen, the reserve has provided over $150 million in cost reductions. The company’s official website stated that construction has begun with plans to finish this year. Along with consumer savings, they expect the project to serve as a demonstration of the “potential for using battery storage to provide stabilising inertia services that are critical to the future integration of renewable energy.”