MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Neoen SA has won approval for its big battery in South Australia to provide inertia service to stabilise the grid, a world first for battery energy storage in the push to replace fossil-fueled generators, the French firm said on Wednesday.
Neoen's 150-megawatt Hornsdale Power Reserve uses Tesla Inc's Megapack battery system and will now use Tesla's Virtual Machine Mode to deliver inertia services, until now provided by coal-fired and gas-fired power plants with big turbines.
Inertia is key to the stability of grids and has become trickier to maintain with the influx of intermittent wind and solar power and retirement of coal-fired plants. South Australia is the state most heavily reliant on wind and solar power.
Until now, utility-scale batteries have mainly been used for frequency services and soaking up surplus energy for release in short bursts to boost power supply.
Neoen Chairman Xavier Barbaro said extending the range of services the big battery could offer created "additional layers of value for existing battery storage investments".
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which helped fund testing of the system over the past two years, said the project was pioneering in demonstrating the full technical capabilities of batteries with advanced inverter technology.
"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)