Tesla’s Megapack energy storage system in southern Australia is at the center of a legal scandal. The management company, which owns the installation, is accused of failing to fulfill its obligation to provide a backup power supply in case of such a need.
Built in Hornsdale in 2017, the Tesla Megapack, which can now store 189 megawatts of power, is used to support the local grid in the event of an overload. The operator of the installation, which today bears the name Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) operated by the French company Neoen. The system is powered by the nearby Hornsdale wind farm and serves as a back-up source of electricity in the event of a breakdown at the local coal-fired power plant, Kogan Creek. At the time of its construction, this Tesla Megapack power plant bore the title of the largest lithium-ion battery in the world until the title was selected by a 300-megawatt system, by the way, also built by Tesla and also in Australia. In July, there was a fire on it.
Last week, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) said it had filed a federal lawsuit against Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR) for systematic failure to provide “Services for regulating the load on the local power grid” for four months in the summer and fall of 2019. In other words, the standby plant was unable to support the local grid during the specified time period when the main source of electricity – the coal-fired power plant – was overloaded.
The first reported HPR default occurred on October 9, 2019, when the Kogan Creek coal-fired power plant, one of the largest in the region, malfunctioned, the regulator said. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has approached HPR to supply the energy reserve under a paid contract. However, the power reserve of the reserve station turned out to be not what AEMO expected to receive, the lawsuit is preparing. Despite the fact that HPR has ensured an uninterrupted supply of energy, this fact initiated the initiation of investigations into similar incidents during the period from July to November 2019. The lawsuit against HPR states that failure to deliver the promised level of reserve energy “Poses a risk to the security and stability of the local power system”.
“Suppliers of backup power are prepaid from AEMO to be always ready and able to deliver their stated services. We believe these suppliers should respond to AEMO requests in a timely and complete manner. “– comments Claire Savage, head of AER.
According to the Australian Institute for 2020, Kogan Creek station is very often affected by various kinds of problems. “Worst Individual Generation Plant in the Australian National Electricity Market”According to the wording of the authors of the report, it supplies up to 80% of the local population with electricity and the consequences of its failure can be very significant.
The owners of the HPR standby station declare that they have coped with the main part of their obligations. According to independent analysis, in 2019 alone, the plant saved Australians $ 116 million in billing costs. The report also states that at the time, its capacity accounted for 12 to 15% of the reserve power supply in the region.
Australian office manager of Neoen Louis de Sambucy in a conversation with the publication Motherboard noted that “Disappointed with AER’s decision to initiate legal action without considering several recent power outages, during which the Hornsdale standby station fully provided critical support to the local power grid.”.
“Hornsdale Power Reserve provides and will continue to provide important services in supporting the Australian power grid and actively working with the regulator.”Sambusi added.
In a lawsuit, the Australian regulator is demanding financial penalties on Hornsdale, the amount of which is not disclosed.
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