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Tesla to bulk up world’s largest lithium-ion battery

Tesla increases capacity to 150MW at Hornsale wind farm

The world’s biggest lithium-ion battery is about to get even bigger, with Tesla set to beef up capacity at the Hornsdale site in South Australia.

The system will be expanded by 50% to 150MW, according to an announcement from Neoen SA, the French company that operates the site. The storage site has already saved consumers more than AUS$50mn ($34mn) in its first year of operation.

Since its 2017 installation, the battery has helped to stabilise the grid, avoid outages and lower costs by offsetting the intermittency of renewable power generation. That’s helped blaze a trail for other plants around the world, reports Bloomberg.

“The Hornsdale battery is a ground-breaking project that has proven what batteries can do for our electricity system,” said Darren Miller, head of Arena, the government’s renewable energy agency, which is helping to fund the expansion.

Affordable utility-scale batteries are seen as the missing link needed to make solar and wind power realistic competitors to fossil fuels. While green sources can be cheaper, they lack the reliability of traditional fuels, making the carbon-intensive energy difficult to jettison, which is necessary to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change.

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In the meantime, the storage industry is increasingly important in places like South Australia, which has relatively less access to traditional fossil-fuel sources such as coal and natural gas. While Tesla’s outback battery was never intended to be a cure-all for the state’s power problems, it has provided valuable insights into the potential contributions storage systems offer grids.

A raft of big battery projects are in development in Australia as energy planners focus on firming up the country’s expanding wind and solar capacity. Another French company, Total Eren SA, is looking to build a 270MW storage system for its Kiamal solar farm in Victoria, while EPS Energy is looking to tap into the proposed South Australia-New South Wales interconnector with a 280MW solar farm and 140MW battery at Robertstown.

Neoen has also outlined plans to build a giant renewables complex in South Australia, including battery storage that could dwarf Hornsdale. The Goyder South project will include up to 1,200MW of wind generation, 600 megawatts of solar and 900MW of battery storage, with an initial investment of up to AUS$1bn, Neoen said in September.