Neoen Australia’s battery will provide a world-first grid stabilization service

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Neoen SA has won approval for its large battery in South Australia to provide inertia service to stabilize the grid, a world first for battery energy storage to replace fossil fuel generators, the French company announced on Wednesday.

Neoen’s 150-megawatt Hornsdale power bank uses Tesla Inc’s Megapack battery system and will now use Tesla’s virtual machine mode to provide inertia services, hitherto provided by coal and gas-fired power plants with large turbines.

Inertia is key to grid stability and has become more difficult to maintain with the influx of intermittent wind and solar power and the retreat of coal-fired power plants. South Australia is the state most dependent on wind and solar power.

Until now, utility scale batteries have been used primarily for frequency services and to absorb excess power to release it in short bursts to increase power supply.

Neoen President Xavier Barbaro said extending the range of services the Big Battery could offer created “additional layers of value to existing battery storage investments.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which has helped fund testing of the system for the past two years, said the project was a pioneer in demonstrating the full technical capabilities of batteries with technology advanced inverter.

“Improving the economics of energy storage is going to be key in our transition to high shares of renewable electricity,” chief executive Darren Miller said in a statement.

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)