Australian regulator takes Tesla big battery to court


From pv magazine Australia

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has instituted federal court proceedings against Neoen’s 150 MW/194 MWh Hornsdale Big Battery (HPR) – widely known as the “Tesla big battery” – for alleged breaches of the National Electricity Rules.

The AER said the South Australian facility did not provide the frequency control services it was paid for.

“Between July and November 2019, HPR made offers to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and was paid to provide market ancillary services which allegedly it could not in fact provide, including when required to provide those services after a frequency disturbance,” the AER said in a statement. “The services are known as contingency frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and they are required to keep the lights on following a power system disturbance.”

The AER said the AEMO first brought the matter to its attention in October 2019, when the Kogan Creek coal station tripped in Queensland. The regulator alleges that HPR’s failure to be capable of providing the FCAS in accordance with its offers and AEMO’s dispatch instructions “created a risk to power system security and stability.”

“It is vital that generators do what they say they can do if we’re going to keep the lights on through the market’s transition to variable renewable generation,” said AER Chair Clare Savage. “AEMO relies on accurate information and compliance with offers and dispatch instructions to ensure it can effectively stabilise frequency deviations. Contingency FCAS providers receive payment from AEMO to be on standby to provide the services they offer. We expect providers to be in a position, and remain in a position, to respond when called upon by AEMO.”

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The AER is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations and costs.

Neoen Australia Managing Director Louis de Sambucy opted not to comment on the specific allegations. However, in a brief statement, he said that HPR had repeatedly delivered on high expectations since opening for business in 2017, in terms of “its performance and market impact, positively impacting ancillary service prices and proving itself to be a critical component of the South Australian electricity network … Whilst we are disappointed by the AER decision, we will continue to maintain our collaborative relationship with them.”

A fire burns at Neoen’s Victoria Big Battery installation. Image: CFA

The court action comes as Neoen faces potential delays with what will be its biggest battery in Australia, the 300 MW/450 MWh project Victoria Big Battery, following a fire in one of its Tesla Megapacks. The Victoria Big Battery, which is being developed near the Moorabool Terminal Station in Geelong, was due for completion in November.

The new Victorian battery is just the latest storage installation for Neoen. In recent months, it has secured tenders for the first stage of the Goyder South project in South Australia and a big battery in Canberra. The French company has also built the soon-to-be commissioned 20 MW/ 34 MWh Bulgana green power hub in northwestern Victoria.

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