It looks like Tesla’s batteries work too fast for South Australia to calculate what they’re worth

Elon Musk at the Tesla Powerpack Launch Event at Hornsdale Wind Farm in Adelaide. Mark Brake/Getty Images

  • Back-up power is paid for according to response times
  • Tesla batteries are responding too fast to register for the quickest rate
  • Tesla claims it hasn’t been paid for ’30 to 40%’ of its services

Tesla, with its battery solution in South Australia, may be a victim of its own success.

Since they came online at the Hornsdale Power Reserve late last year, Tesla batteries have come to the state’s rescue on several occasions. At least four times when generators failed in December, and one notable occasion within 0.14 seconds of the failure of a generator at the Loy Yang A coal-fired power station on Victoria.

But the SMH reports Tesla is claiming it has missed out on compensation for “30 to 40%” of the Hornsdale Power Reserve battery’s services.

The problem is not, however, due to any reluctance from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to cough up.

It’s because Tesla’s batteries respond too quickly.

When back-up energy is called upon following a generator failure, it’s known as a Frequency Controlled Ancillary Service.

The power provided by those services is paid for according to how quick they deliver it. And the AEMO pays out on a scale that’s tied to three response rates – six seconds, one minute and five minutes.

Tesla estimates that 30 to 40% of its services have been delivered in less than six seconds. It’s so fast it’s not even registering with the AEMO.

“This makes it difficult for the full value of fast-responding technologies to be recognised in the current contingency FCAS markets,” Tesla says.

The SMH reports Tesla “was unable to provide a dollar figure for this loss at the time of publishing”.

You can read more about it at the SMH here.