Tesla’s massive battery in South Australia just got bigger after completing its expansion

Tesla CEO Elon Musk. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

The expansion of Tesla’s battery in South Australia is complete.

The Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) in South Australia – the world’s first big-battery and the largest lithium-ion battery in the world – just got bigger after completing its expansion. Its capacity went up 50% from 100MW to 150MW.

The battery was developed by Tesla in 2017 following the severe storms that caused blackouts in South Australia in 2016. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he would build a battery in 100 days or offer it for free.

The battery’s expansion was introduced by renewable energy producer Neoen together with backing from Tesla, the South Australian Government and the federal government via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The extra capacity boosts the battery’s ability to stabilise the energy grid, reduce the risk of blackouts and avoid price volatility in the energy market.

A review by engineering business Aurecon found the initial 100MW battery provided more than $150 million in savings to South Australians during the first two years since it was built. And these benefits are expected to grow with the expansion.

The battery’s construction and expansion also created 158 jobs, with Aurecon finding that it generated $300 million in economic value for South Australia – half of which within the Yorke and Mid North region.

Testing will now begin on the battery’s capacity to deliver grid-scale inertia services, a key element of grid stability.

“With this expansion and the commencement of grid-scale inertia testing, Neoen continues to lead the way in battery storage innovation and reinforces its contribution and commitment to South Australia’s 100% renewable energy target,” Neoen Australia’s Managing Director Louis de Sambucy said in a statement.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth added that the battery is a “great example of the technological innovation that has developed to help us deliver cleaner, cheaper renewable energy across a stronger, more reliable grid.”

ARENA CEO Darren Miller believed the battery will play a major role in providing large scale energy storage for the renewable energy produced in South Australia.

“Of critical importance to ARENA is the valuable information we will gain in showing that batteries are capable of providing inertia services and fast frequency responses to the grid, paving the way for potential regulatory changes and revenue streams to incentivise further grid scale batteries to be built across Australia,” he said in a statement.