Tesla Turns On World’s Largest Battery In Australia

DEC 2 2017 BY MARK KANE 32

With a flip of a switch, the world’s largest battery is on.

Tesla officially delivered the world’s largest battery energy storage system of 100 MW/129 MWh in South Australia within the deadline of 100 days (since signing the deal) after a week long of tests.

Tesla Powerpack energy storage system (100 MW/129 MWh) in South Australia

Well, the 100 day challenge was a tricky one, so Tesla began before it even signed the deal (you know, just in case):

“When the grid connection deal was signed on Sept 29, Tesla was already half way through installing the battery packs.”

The ESS is installed at the Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown. The farm has 99 3 MW turbines out of 105 planned (315 MW).

The capability of Tesla energy storage is three times that of the second largest ESS.

To make it on time, Tesla decided to use Samsung SDI lithium-ion cells. The system apparently uses 640 individual Powerpacks (200 kWh each).

The ESS will now help to stabilize the grid in the summer (it’s December, a hot month in Australia right).

“Australia’s energy market operator has warned that power supply will be tight this summer, particularly in South Australia and neighboring Victoria, where one of the market’s biggest coal-fired power plants was shut in March.”

The cost of the 100 MW/129 MWh battery storage is estimated at some $50 million.

State Premier Jay Weatherill said in a statement:

“While others are just talking, we are delivering our energy plan, making South Australia more self-sufficient, and providing back up power and more affordable energy for South Australians this summer.”

Source: Reuters

Categories: ESS, Tesla

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32 Comments on "Tesla Turns On World’s Largest Battery In Australia"

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This is like one of those good news/bad news jokes.

The good news is that Tesla was able to install a 100 MW/129 MWh energy storage system in record time. The bad news is that they had to use third party battery cells to do it!

As a Tesla fan, this has me wondering what the heck is going on at Tesla’s Gigafactory One, and why Tesla didn’t use cells from that factory for this project.

It’s probably the in house Gigafactory Panasonic supply chain constraints, which impact manufacturing cost (potentially offsetting the Powerwall throughput, and to a lesser extent, TM3 production cell / pack ramp up), and near term availability (100 day Aussie “shrimp on the ‘lectric barbie”, deadline).

Only my guesstimate, however!

My guess is most of the batteries from the Gigafactory are currently designated for Model 3, and they didn’t have enough of them for other purposes in order to fill such a big order.

Tesla is not using 18650 cells in the M3 as I recall, they are using a slightly larger 21700 cell.

These woudl not work in the PowerPack which is built around 18650..

Okay, but why would Tesla continue to use the more expensive 18650 cells, instead of the new and presumably cheaper-per-kWh 2170 cells?

And with TM3 production so much slower than anticipated, shouldn’t Gigafactory One be trying hard to find other markets for its battery production? I presume all those Gigafactory One workers are not sitting around just twiddling their thumbs!

PowerPacks and PowerWalls are assembled at the Gigafactory; Tesla should already have switched over to using the new cells for its energy storage packs.

(I’ve read a rumor that Tesla was planning on making that switch, but for some reason isn’t doing so. If that’s true, then this would again seem to point to some deeper underlying production problem at Gigafactory One. A battery cell production problem, not a battery pack assembly production problem. I certainly hope it’s not true!)

Wasn’t the ‘bottleneck’ in M3 production attributed to battery assembly issues?
Then it would be obvious why they resorted to ‘third party battery cells ‘

I was thinking that maybe Tesla had changed the battery chemistry at the gigafactory to be better suited to car batteries. They expected a massive production of Model 3, and changed all of the Gigafactory capasity to make M3 batteries.
When the production didn’t rise as quick as expected – it was too late to just change. I would guess the volume of battery paste is huge. Got to use it up.

Then the order for the grid battery units came – and math made it logical to just buy from Samsung. With the volume, and Samsungs knowledge in supplying others, and the identical cell format – I’m sure they got a price that was profitable for both, and could use all the other stuff they make at Gigafactory to assy’ the units.

Tesla doesn’t make cells for batteries. They use suppliers for that. Panasonic, Samsung SDI, doesn’t matter

Tesla’s Gigafactory One makes battery cells, for Tesla’s EVs and, supposedly, for its stationary energy storage PowerWalls and PowerPacks. Sure, it’s Panasonic who is in charge of the actual cell production inside the factory, but the overall production of Gigafactory One is controlled by Tesla, not Panasonic.

But now we are seeing signs that Tesla isn’t using its new 2170 cells from Gigafactory One for its PowerWalls and PowerPacks, as planned. So what’s up with that? If Gigafactory One’s cell production is so inflexible that it can’t handle two different cell chemistries for two different applications — EVs and stationary storage — then IMHO that points to a pretty fundamental problem.

Panasonic hires its own employees and owns its own section of the plant, they are colocated, but still is Panasonic producing the cells.

Are these battery packs thermally managed? Is there an estimated replacement date and do they have a budget for that? It’s an interesting experiment and I guess we’ll see how it goes.

I thought it likely. I suppose it must be a glycol/water mixture. They must have specialized trucks that need to come and change that every three years or so. I wonder if that might cause any waste disposal problem should these installations become more common? Maybe the cooling mixture could be recycled, or rejuvenated somehow?

All cars have cooling systems with liquid that needs to be changed so this should not be any different.

“this has me wondering what the heck is going on at Tesla’s Gigafactory One.

Yes I think there may be issues at Panasonics line at the giga factory that are being hush hushed and the bit about pack assembly/automation is just one problem.

Here’s a good article that is not real long on a credible source as it is from a disgruntled employee. However, quoting this employee:

“I could write for days on the rigorous and extensive quality standards Panasonic lives by. If a single cell has even a microscopic scratch invisible to the human eye on the outside of the metal can the cell is rejected and sent to the trash. Production is then completely halted until the cause of that scratch is located and corrected.”


Yeah, I’ve read some of those posts. I regard those as just rumor, since so far as I know, none of that has been confirmed by any other source.

But it does worry me that there seem to be signs pointing toward a problem with cell production — and not with pack-level production — at Gigafactory One.

Checking for errors and improving quality is a very wise precaution as not doing so will result in a product becoming gradually crappier.
When dealing with lithium ion batteries, it’s perfection or risk of damage. Some manufacturer learned that the hard way, when many years back, a factory in Japan burned down due to one faulty cell and a series of unfortunate coincidences. I recall it was 300 million dollars worth of damage.

It is called growing pains and it will get straightened out.

Mark my words, Tesla’s energy storage business for both industrial and residential will become even larger then its car business.

“Mark my words, Tesla’s energy storage business for both industrial and residential will become even larger then its car business.”

-Get Real

just read today that some countries are mandating a minimum battery back up requirement for the utilities.

Except for the USA where they’re trying to mandate and subsidize a unique definition of utility energy storage: being able to store your fuel on-site for 90 days (not necessarily safely).

There are already quite a few players on the market that make power back systems so if Tesla wants to stay in the game they need to step it up fast.

The battery isn’t that large. That is the sad part. It is barely enough to power about 3,000 homes for only couple hours.

It is designed to “smooth out” the delivery curves of the renewable grid full of solar/wind.

At the same time, the Utility is also adding more Natural Gas plant to back up the grid for longer duration than couple hours.

I just divide 129 Mwh by my year consumption and find it could power 5 600 home like mine for the whole year.

I check twice.

It look like a giant battery for me, don’t know why they need gas with that.

Average US household uses 10.7 MWh/year:

So 129 MWh covers a dozen houses for a year (or 4000 houses for a day, or almost 100k houses for an hour). Numbers may be a bit higher in South Australia, higher rates tend to drive consumption down.

I skip few digit.
Average where we heat our house with electicity with pretty cold winter is 22 785 kWh or 22 MWh.
So about 6 houses for a year around here.

Just to say it’s bigger than MMF tought.

Gee, sorry that our brand new battery-storage industry wasn’t able to land a man on the Moon on its first launch. Had to send up a chimp first to show that the damn thing works.

Just remember, five years ago anyone at even CleanTechnica (much less this site) who suggested using lithium-ion batteries for any sort of utility power storage would have been ignored as a crackpot. Now it’s happening, and it’s eclipsing the technologies we talked about back in 2012. Why? Because the costs aren’t going down for the old technologies like water storage or flow batteries and there’s no hope of economies of scale. They were moving as glacially as fuel cells, and the fast-moving industry will cut the slow-moving industry off at the pass and co-opt its functions.

Well, the cells for the powerpacks contain a different chemistry (and were therefore previously always supplied by Samsung for e.g. Powerpack 1 and Powerwall 1), as far as I know. It thus makes sense to continue sourcing from Samsung. That amount of cells is a bit more than one month worth (24/7) of product from the fastest production lines at Samsung. When your own capacity is scheduled for use (with the ramp-up of model 3, I guess Tesla needs a serious stockpile, so downtime for maintenance in cell production will not affect car production), buy from stock elsewhere.

Tesla claimed the Gigafactory began “mass production” of energy storage cells on January 4, 2017. Several months later (May, I believe) they also began production of Model 3 cells (different chemistry running on separate lines).

The GF is roughly 30% of it’s planned size, but the plan was 35 GWh/year of “raw material to finished product” processing. They don’t start from raw materials today, instead buying processed cathode powders, electrolyte, separators, etc. from other factories. As such, the current configuration should be able to produce 25-35 GWh/year.

After almost a year of “mass producing” cells for energy storage this 25+ GWh/year factory can’t make enough cells for a measly 0.129 GWh installation?

It’s not like they had to focus all their output on the Model 3, which is way behind schedule and has only used 0.06 GWh to date. Or their other energy storage sales, which amounted to a bit over 0.1 GWh this year (and might also use Samsung cells).

The inescapable conclusion is the GF can only produce ~1% of rated capacity today. This after multiple billions of investment. So far it’s a Gigajoke.

What is the structures in the middle of the battery arrays, big transformers? And what are the tall poles for, lightning rods?

Once again TESLA leading energy storage in the world.

WOW Tesla is impressive and transformative.

When somebody tells you “We have the world’s biggest Whatnot, and it turns out to be 100 MW power at a storage capacity of 129 MWh, it means every other Whatnot in the world is smaller (Duh!).
Now how does this whatnot compare in MW and MWh with the problem of matching even just South Australia’s “renewable energy” storage problem?
Well, for every 100 MW of average night-time power, you need 1200 MWh of storage for solar-electric energy. No, wait, in the places where winter nights are 15 hours long it’s more, and what do you do if there isn’t enough sunshine in the other nine hours?
Wind has a similar problem, especially if there are week-long lulls.