The World’s Largest Battery Set to Get 50 Percent Larger

A battery down under gets an upgrade, furthering its claim to be the world's biggest battery.

The Tesla battery was built alongside Hornsdale wind farm in Australia and is the largest Lithium ion battery in the world by a factor of 3. (Image Courtesy of Teslarati.)

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery, built by Tesla and housed at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Southern Australia, is set for a 50 percent rise in capacity in the coming year.

As is common in Australia, and many other parts of planet, summer months bring about extreme heat conditions. As the temperature rises and the hum of air conditioning units buzz, the amount of energy used by consumers soars. At times the energy demand becomes so great that electrical grids are forced into rolling blackouts.

That was the case in 2016 when a series of rolling blackouts disrupted the flow of energy to the southern Outback.

To remedy these conditions, in 2017 the Australian government launched a program to build the Big Battery, an energy storage facility that could aid the already-existing grid when its services reach their limits.

Currently, the Big Battery has a capacity of 129 MWh and can output 100 MW of energy. The Australian government, impressed with the battery’s performance over the last two years, has commissioned a 64.5 MWh (50 MW output) addition to the capacity of the facility. This would increase the battery’s output to 150MWh, and expand its storage capacity to 193.5MWh.

According to a statement released by the Office of Steven Marshall, premier of South Australia, “[The Big Battery] expansion will support [the] transition to net-100% renewables energy and show the world a better way to manage the transition to renewable energy.” Marshall’s office added, “The expansion will enable a much faster and bigger response to system disturbances, so the Big Battery can help stabilize the grid and store even more power for peak demand.”

With the new addition, the Hornsdale Power Reserve estimates that it will be able to deliver up to half of the power required by the South Australia region. The expanded battery could also be capable of replicating aspects of traditional gas or coal power stations, enabling it to better support the expansion of renewable wind energy in the area. Specifically, the plan is to test and demonstrate peak capability without the need for standby or surge generator capacity. If widely adopted, battery supplied peak current could supplant load levelling schemes such as time of use billing while reducing utility capex and overhead costs.

Engineers implementing the Big Battery upgrade expect to finish by the middle of 2020.