It’s now clear the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery installation has done nothing but kick goals for Tesla and the South Australian government since it was switched on back in December 2017.
The latest win came for French company Neoen, the owner of Hornsdale Power Reserve which houses the battery at its wind farm 220km north of Adelaide.
Last week, Neoen confirmed to Stockhead it had made around $13 million revenue in just six months. Hornsdale cost Neoen about $91 million to build.
The $13 million was made up of $2.24 million under the power purchase agreement with the South Australian government and $10.75 million from electricity sales and grid services.
The $2.24 million gives the SA government an emergency reserve of power. But the speed at which the battery stabilises the grid when traditional power supply sources fail, plus the extra competition it adds to the market, has played a large part in saving the SA government nearly $33 million.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) just gave the installation a glowing report.
AEMO’s executive general manager of operations Damien Sanford told the ABC the battery’s ability to respond “very, very quickly” to different types of conditions “has been very encouraging for us”.
It set that standard within weeks of being switched on. When the coal-fired Loy Yang power plant in Victoria tripped and went offline, the Tesla battery delivered 100 megawatts into the national electricity grid in 140 milliseconds.
“That’s a record,” State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis told 5AA radio at the time.
South Australia’s Torrens Island power station would have taken half an hour to an hour to energise and synchronise into the market.
In March, it was revealed the batteries were actually responding too fast.
When back-up energy is called upon following a generator failure, it’s known as a Frequency Controlled Ancillary Service (FCAS).
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 estimated that 30 to 40% of its services had been delivered in less than six seconds — so fast it was not even registering with the AEMO, and some fine payment detail had to be worked out.
Soon after, AEMO revealed the cost of FCAS had fallen by 57% — around $33 million — just in the first quarter after it was switched on.
The Tesla battery is too small to be responsible for all of that, but at the very least, it’s got other state authorities around Australia thinking about what kind of savings they might make.
Above all, it’s kept South Australia online through breakdowns which have traditionally resulted in longer blackouts.
The blackout in late 2016 that led Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes challenge Telsa CEO Elon Musk to step in and help SA lasted up to several days in some parts of SA.
Business SA estimated that cost the state’s businesses up to $367 million.
“Normally we would trip load under those conditions; this type of technology affords us to do a rapid injection of power to protect the system,” Dylan McConnell, an energy analyst with the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University, told the ABC.