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Tesla’s Outback Big Battery Fails to Retake Crown After Upgrade

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(Bloomberg) — The Tesla Inc.-installed Hornsdale battery in South Australia completed an upgrade that boosted its capacity by 50%, but fell short of winning back its title as the world’s biggest lithium-ion unit.

The pioneering facility, which Elon Musk installed in 2017 after winning a bet that he could get the system up and running in 100 days to help address a power crisis, now has a capacity of 150 megawatts, project owner Neoen SA said Wednesday. A 230-megawatt system in California that started last month is currently the world’s biggest.

Grids are increasingly looking to energy storage to smooth out power flows, minimize price volatility and reduce the risk of blackouts as more and more intermittent renewable energy is installed. The sector is still set to grow by a record each year through 2022, though the coronavirus pandemic may trim new installations by as much as 16%, BloombergNEF said last month.

Hornsdale has been profitable for Neoen, and the French group said it had delivered A$150 million ($111 million) in savings to electricity consumers.

“The Hornsdale Power Reserve is a great example of the technological innovation that has developed to help us deliver cleaner, cheaper renewable energy across a stronger, more reliable grid,” said Ian Learmonth, chief executive officer at the government’s Clean Energy Finance Corp., which helped to finance the upgrade.

Several other projects are in development in Australia, including facilities by Siemens AG and AGL Energy Ltd. that will rival Hornsdale in size.

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