Engineering consultant Aurecon Group said in a statement last week the Hornsdale battery installed two years ago in South Austrialia has exceeded expectations for the way it has stabilized the grid and lowered grid related costs. So far, the Hornsdale facility has successfully met the challenge of three major system outages and reduced network costs by about $76 million in 2019, according to a report by Bloomberg. The battery has slashed the cost of regulating the South Australia electrical grid by 91%, bringing it in line with other regions in the nation, Aurecon said. Those savings are passed on to utility customers in South Australia.
Garth Heron is the head of development for French energy company Neoen, which owns and operates the Hornsdale installation. He says batteries smooth out fluctuations in the flow of electricity that can destabilize the grid. The Tesla battery is capable of responding to such frequency events more quickly than coal or gas fired generators and at much lower cost. “The grid has a heartbeat that needs to be regulated,” Heron tells Bloomberg. “I think there will be a faster battery roll-out than most people expect. They really are able to solve a multitude of problems.”
Restoring Confidence In Battery Storage
The excellent performance of the Hornsdale battery is helping to restore confidence in grid-scale battery systems after fires at 21 storage locations in South Korea in 2018 caused jitters in the marketplace. After a 5-month-long investigation, a panel of experts convened by the government blamed the fires on poor quality installations, faulty operating procedures, missing protections against electrical shocks, and a lack of overall control systems, according to a report by SP Global.
The energy storage market plunged in 2019 as a result of the fires and LG Chem, the principal supplier of battery cells for those storage systems, suffered a $124 million loss in the first quarter of 2019 after 7 straight quarters of increases.
BNEF analyst Ali Asghar says, “Not only has the Hornsdale Power Reserve identified how batteries can physically help the grid, it has also showed how they can make money along the way. More importantly, it has boosted investor confidence in the storage market by showing developers how revenues from different power based services can be stacked to build a business case for storage in Australia.”
Neoen says it is adding 50 megawatts of capacity at Hornsdale this year and has ambitious plans for a giant renewables hub at Goyder South in South Australia which would provide 900 megawatts of battery storage. Bloomberg did not report how many megawatt-hours of storage the upgraded Hornsdale battery or the Goyder South installation will provide.