Tesla’s big battery in SA just got 50% bigger after kicking goals thanks to Autobidder

Tesla’s famous big battery in South Australia is going through the final stage of testing, after an expansion that grows the battery by 50%. Neoen, who owns the Hornsdale Power Reserve, are close finalising testing that will increase the capacity of the battery from 100MW to 150MW.

This increase in size was thanks to an additional $15 million from the SA Government, which helped grow the grid-scale battery.

The 50MW expansion began back in March, with the extra capacity to be operational very soon. The big battery stores energy from the nearby wind farm and acts as a buffer when the energy grid sees spikes in demand.

Coal-fired powerplants take hours to fire up and increase energy production, gas plants, take minutes, while the battery takes just seconds to kick into action and fill the gaps between demand and production. The ability of the battery to respond almost instantly which means that it saved the owners a lot of money.

When you have technology and savings like this, it’s not surprising that Neoen wants to expand. With a little bit of investment from the Government, they can achieve that expansion faster and realise the potential savings, sooner.

While the batteries are important, the reason the system is so successful is Tesla’s Autobidder software. While it doesn’t get the same profile as a rocket launch, Autobidder is successfully operating at Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia.

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 based on their business objectives and risk preferences.

Tesla’s experience with machine learning is being deployed to help commercial and energy utilities to save energy, reducing the amount of legacy fuel sources required. Tesla engineers have created algorithms to help with:

  • Price forecasting
  • Load forecasting
  • Generation forecasting
  • Dispatch optimization
  • Smart bidding

With the project entering its critical testing phase, this means its full capacity will be activated and testing will check that the battery is operating as intended and safely.

The significant expansion of Neoen’s ‘Big Battery’ is evidence of the innovation taking place in South Australia’s energy sector, and the benefits that grid-scale storage can provide.

This milestone is a key demonstration of the value being delivered by our election commitment to resecure our grid by expanding storage through the $50 million Grid Scale Storage Fund.

After additional testing, the battery will deliver a range of grid support services which mimick those provided by traditional generations, such as inertia which helps reduce shocks to the system.

The increase in storage power and capacity mean a faster response to disturbances such as network faults, so that within milliseconds the Hornsdale Power Reserve can help stabilise the grid.

In demonstrating the benefits that batteries can provide, this will help inform the regulatory changes required to create new markets which attract new technologies to support renewable energy.

Independent modelling indicates that the Hornsdale Power Reserve has already delivered more than $150 million in savings to consumers in its first two years of operation. Upon successful completion of testing in the next few months, we expect these savings will continue to grow.

The State Government is providing $15 million across five years from the Grid Scale Storage Fund with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) committing a further $8 million.

The Commonwealth’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is also backing this project with $50 million in finance to support the completion of the expanded facility.”

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan

Managing Director of Neoen Australia, Louis de Sambucy, said the Hornsdale Power Reserve’s testing phase will ensure that the completed expansion meets the highest performance standards.

The expansion will make Hornsdale Power Reserve 50 per cent bigger and will deliver ground-breaking innovations to increase grid security and further unlock renewable energy performance in South Australia.

With the support of Tesla, the South Australian Government, ARENA, CEFC, the Northern Areas council and construction partner Consolidated Power Projects Australia, the Hornsdale Power Reserve will keep South Australia at the forefront of the energy transition.”

Managing Director of Neoen Australia, Louis de Sambucy,
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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
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. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


  1. Translation, With a massive fistful of taxpayer handouts my company is paying me millions to give South Australia some of the highest energy prices in the world. Life is good when the average punter can’t do maths or science and just forks over the cash. No sane person will invest in this scheme, so I’ll get the money direct from the pollies who don’t care how they spend it, as long as they get good photo opportunities.

    • I think it really depends on how you look at it. If the Government would have to spend many times this amount to build a new powerplant, the cost to achieve reliable power for the state, could be much cheaper.In my eyes, it’s not a decision between spending this or not, it’s a choice between spending this money which progresses the state further to on their journey of renewables, rather than spending money on legacy (and dirty) power production techniques.

      • Jason you are right. Too many people just complain instead of looking at the costs and problems caused by other so-called solutions. A gas power peaker plant would (A) Cost more, (B) Not response as fast allow line voltage to drop (C) can not absorb power when there is a surplus to push back on the grid later at a lower cost than a peaker plant generating the cost from scratch.

  2. Except that this battery has already more than paid for itself, and will keep reducing energy costs by tens of millions of dollars a year for many years to come.

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