Tesla power storage: Balkan battery project is 'largest running in Europe'

Slovenian €15m Tesla-based battery scheme is also the first in the Balkans.

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Slovenia-based energy startup NGEN has become the first company in the Balkans to implement Tesla-based power storage.

It's using Tesla's Powerpack system for a 12.6MW/22.2MWh battery energy storage project worth €15m ($16.5m). The technology employs machine learning to offer automated grid-balancing services.

According to Tesla, the system supports many applications that offer consumers and energy providers greater control, efficiency, and reliability across the electric grid.

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The storage system that NGEN installed is located in Jesenice, a small town in the northwest of Slovenia. The company also plans to build a second one by July next year. NGEN also describes the battery system as the largest Tesla-made one operational in Europe.

According to Damien Merlak, NGEN's co-founder, the storage system will also benefit renewable energy efforts in the country. So far, Slovenia gets 32% of its energy from renewable sources.

"The first storage system built by NGEN will allow 250MW of additional clean energy production to be installed in Slovenia," Merlak tells ZDNet.

During the Tesla Powerpack project launch, Slovenian infrastructure minister Bojan Kumer noted that while the European electricity grid is one of the largest in the world, NGEN's and similar projects will contribute to the growing need for flexibility and support for renewables.

The idea for the project began in 2015 and took several years to reach fruition. First steps began in mid-2018, when NGEN was formally established. A year and a half later, the Slovenian company says it now has the necessary expertise to build this type of system for others.

"We've also developed software to control the assets, battery energy storage, and conventional generators, to offer complete frequency regulation services to European transmission and distribution system operators," Merlak says.

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While a second system in Slovenia is already being planned, NGEN is also negotiating to build additional systems in other countries in the region.

The project in Slovenia is testimony to Tesla's growing list of energy storage systems across the globe. Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he hoped that his company would increase its overall presence in the countries from Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

"Hoping to open in Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia and most of Eastern Europe early next year. Finally, we will do Nikola Tesla proud by having his cars in his countries of origin," Musk tweeted, referring to opening Tesla stores in these countries.

In some of them, like Croatia, there already are Tesla super-fast charging stations, and the company is also expecting soon to install more of those in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece.