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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

First big battery to deliver grid-scale inertia services


Aerial view over Hornsdale Power Reserve showing rows of battery units in foreground and wind tubines in distance Photo: Neoen
View over Hornsdale Power Reserve

Photo: Neoen

Neoen’s Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) battery storage facility in South Australia has secured approval from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to deliver inertia services to Australia’s national electricity market. It is reportedly the first big battery in the world to deliver grid-scale inertia* services and represents a key step towards managing a grid with 100% renewables and no coal plants or gas generators in operation.

The 150 MW/193.5 MWh HPR is Australia’s second largest lithium-ion battery and is based on Tesla’s ‘virtual machine mode’ technology which allows advanced power inverters to emulate the existing inertia services being supplied by an ageing fleet of fossil fuel power plants. The approval comes after two years of extensive trials and collaboration with Tesla, AEMO and ElectraNet, supported by the South Australian government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).


‘A minimum level of inertia, in conjunction with frequency control services, is needed both during normal operation of the electricity network and after major disturbances. Inertia has traditionally been provided by gas or coal-fired generators,’ explains Neoen. However, it adds that ‘the closing of thermal power plants and increasing volumes of renewable energy are resulting in inertia shortfalls in the grid, a serious network issue that batteries are now able to overcome’.


HPR will provide stability to the South Australian grid, which has reached 64% renewable penetration over the last 12 months. HPR now has the capacity to contribute an estimated 2,000 MW of equivalent inertia, or around 15% of the predicted shortfall in the State’s network, which serves over 1.7mn people and 150,000 businesses, according to Neoen.


Commenting on the project, Ian Learmonth, CEFC CEO, says: ‘Hornsdale Power Reserve is an outstanding demonstration of the market-changing role of large-scale batteries in the race to net zero emissions. There is no question that Australia needs a stronger, modernised electricity grid, supported by grid-scale storage, if we are to capitalise on the enormous benefits of our renewable energy resources [and develop a] clean energy grid of the future.’


*In traditional power systems, inertia comes from the energy stored in large rotating generators. This stored energy can be valuable when a large power plant fails, as it can temporarily make up for the power lost from the failed generator. This temporary response – typically available for a few seconds – allows the mechanical systems that control most power plants time to detect and respond to the failure. Modern power systems have markedly fewer rotating generators, and inertia services have to be sourced elsewhere.