Neoen completes Hornsdale big battery expansion


Neoen’s Hornsdale Power Reserve‘s (HPR) 50%, $71 million storage expansion is complete. HPR, also known as the Tesla Big Battery, is now 50 MW/64.5 MWh bigger, with an upgraded capacity of 150 MW. 

The A-Team of Tesla, the South Australian Government, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), cobbled together the finances, and the gumption, to expand the already highly successful megabattery. Now, the expanded HPR can make history as the first battery to provide grid-scale inertia services and fast-frequency response on the National Electricity Network (NEM). 

Neoen Austalia’s Managing Director, Louis de Sambucy said that testing could now begin on HPR’s synthetic or digital inertia capabilities as Neoen “reinforces its contribution and commitment to South Australia’s 100% renewable energy target.” Of course, Neoen is sure to be happy with more than just helping SA reach its targets though, after all, in the first half of 2020 HPR virtually tripled the French renewables developer’s storage revenue on comparative 2019 levels. 

Neoen’s storage revenue jumped from €8.4m in the first half of 2019 to €24.6m (AU$40m) in the first half 2020 due to “an exceptional non-recurring event in Australia…the key factor behind this very hefty increase.” The exceptional non-recurring event was in fact a tornado in late January which pulled down the Heywood interconnector between SA and Victoria. SA was effectively isolated from the rest of the National Energy Market (NEM) for 18 days. 

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) utilised Neoen’s Hornsdale and two other smaller batteries – Dalrymple ESCRI and Lake Bonney – to maintain grid reliability and keep electricity prices down. 

Expanded remit  

The successful testing of HPR’s synthetic inertia services could result in changes to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Market Ancillary Services Specifications, opening up more space for energy storage to participate in the market. ARENA, which contributed an $8 million grant toward the expansion, also believes the upgraded battery could also help to reduce renewable curtailment in SA. Indeed, AEMO’s Chief System Design & Engineering Officer, Alex Wonhas, said that the expansion enabled the “optimal use of this world leading battery to support higher levels of renewable integration.” 

“Of critical importance to ARENA,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller, “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.” 

Back in July, pv magazine Australia sat down with Neoen’s deputy CEO and head of international development, Romain Desrousseaux, who said that the expansion would take the company’s storage business a step further, and prove that big batteries can deliver new services, such as inertia.

South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining was similarly buoyed , noting that the expansion was a “demonstration” of “how batteries can provide system strength similar to traditional power generation. This is a cutting edge service which will help address our historic system security challenges and allow us to adopt more renewable energy.” 

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