NSW is getting a 50MW Tesla Megapack Battery, costs $65M, to return $93 – $135m of savings

Using large-grid scale batteries is becoming increasingly common in Australia. Famously South Australia led the way with a 100MW/129MWh battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve. At the time it...

Using large-grid scale batteries is becoming increasingly common in Australia. Famously South Australia led the way with a 100MW/129MWh battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve. At the time it was the largest battery in the world and in its first 2 years of operation, the project saved SA consumers over $150 million.

Naturally other energy operators are trying to solve similar problems, stablising the grid and smoothing out demand curves to avoid higher base load production rates. There are massive cost savings to be had if you can run coal-fired plants at a lower base rate, then deal with spikes of demand using other cheaper, faster technologies like batteries.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor and Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean announced that NSW would receive a big battery as well.

Like South Australia, the battery will be supplied by Tesla who makes MegaPack, a grid-scale power solution. This will be achieved through co-investment, with Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) awarding the first large-scale grid battery for NSW.

ARENA will provide A$11.5 million to the project, while the NSW Government is chipping in 10 million. The overall cost of the solution is $62 million. What that money also buys is Tesla’s Autobidder software.

Autobidder provides independent power producers, utilities and capital partners the ability to autonomously monetize battery assets. Autobidder is a real-time trading and control platform that provides value-based asset management and portfolio optimization, enabling owners and operators to configure operational strategies that maximize revenue according to their business objectives and risk preferences.

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When SA’s big battery was installed, it became somewhat of a tourist attraction, so those looking to go visit the NSW version, will need to visit TransGrid’s Wallgrove substation in Western Sydney.

The Wallgrove Grid Battery project will trial the use of a 50MW/75MWh lithium ion battery to provide fast frequency response and synthetic inertia services to the NSW transmission network.

Given the successes in SA and around the world, it feels like a trial is pretty redundant at this point and other states should be following suit (looking at you VIC and QLD).

These network services help keep the grid stable, and will become increasingly important as the energy system adapts to accommodate higher levels of renewable generation connecting into the grid.

“TransGrid is committed to finding low cost innovative solutions to the emerging challenges of the energy transformation. This will be the first battery in NSW to pilot grid scale synthetic inertia as a network service.

It’s a step forward for the NSW grid and the National Electricity Market. This innovation will help accelerate the industry’s transformation to a low-carbon energy system, at a lower cost to customers.” said Ms Hanly.

TransGrid’s Executive Manager of Strategy, Innovation and Technology, Eva Hanly

The power system currently relies on inertia provided by large spinning turbines inside coal, gas and hydro generators to maintain a consistent frequency and help the system ride out any disturbances.

As coal-fired generators retire and more wind and solar generation connect to the grid, alternate sources of inertia will be needed to stabilise the network.

Batteries offer a solution to this challenge at a small fraction of the cost of traditional technologies such as synchronous condensers. It is expected the direct benefits to NSW electricity customers to be within a range of $93m to $135m. If that bears out to be true, the $62 million looks like a bargain.

Research and results from the trial will be shared to support future projects and help demonstrate that battery technology is a low cost and technically viable solution to the emerging challenge created by the transformation of the generation sector. Additionally, the trial will provide a foundation for third-party battery providers to submit credible options to TransGrid in future relevant regulatory investment tests for transmission (RIT-T). 

The battery will also be used by Infigen Energy who will have dispatch control of the battery for energy arbitrage and Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS). These uses are complementary to the network services and ensure the full capacity of the battery is optimally utilised – which helps provide network services at the lowest possible cost to customers.  

The battery will be designed and constructed by Tesla using Tesla Megapacks, and connected directly to TransGrid’s transmission network.

Key dates

November 2020 – February 2021Detailed design work
February 2021Start of construction
October 2021Start of battery commercial operations
November 2021Completion of construction work
Q4 2021-Q4 2023Testing program

It seems Australia is becoming quite the good customer for Tesla, as we continue to find value from Tesla energy products.

In terms of large-scale batteries, Australia’s capacity is growing rapidly. The to the 150MW in SA started it all, but will be joined by this new 50MW battery in NSW, WA is planning on another 100MW battery, while VIC may trump them all with a 600MW battery in Geelong. QLD also has a 100MW battery planned. This means by over the next few years, Australia will pass 1 Gigawatt of grid-scale, battery storage in Australia.

While Tesla does sell PowerWalls to customers, they don’t yet sell Solar directly to consumers. They do however, offer a Virtual Power Plant in South Australia, where 50,000 homes are connected digitally, to create a distributed 250MW of energy capacity.

Each installation includes solar panels and a Powerwall for free. The consumer benefits through reduced energy costs, while the grid benefits from the ability to time-shift energy requirements.

This means the energy captured from the solar on the roof of one house, is stored in their Powerwall during the day, then maybe used by their neighbours later that night. Having the capture and use of energy located as close as possible reduces the transmission losses, making it far more efficient.

More information at transgrid.com.au/wallgrovebattery

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
One Comment

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  • Don Bird
    28 October 2020 at 10:26 am

    i see it’s 75MWh as well, that’s well under a Billion Dollars for 1GWh of storage, much cheaper than pumped hydro, quicker and less environmental hoops as well…

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