March 24, 2018

Elon Musk's massive battery is up and running in South Australia

02 December 2017, 12:42 | Ross Houston

Mark Brake Getty Images File

Tesla Builds World's Biggest Battery in Australian Outback

But, can a Li-ion battery power an entire town or towns?

In July, French renewable energy company Neoen and Tesla were selected to deliver the project. The delivery is also ahead of Tesla CEO Elon Musk's self-imposed deadline of "100 days or it's free".

Tesla's battery is now delivering power to Australia's national electricity grid. Though Musk did have a bit of a head start, he had the battery built in 60 days.

Premier Jay Weatherill is due to visit the battery site - alongside the Hornsdale windfarm near Jamestown in the state's mid north - tomorrow, to mark its official opening on the first day of summer.

The lithium battery and subsequent bet are part of South Australia's 530 million dollar energy plan alongside the construction of backup generators. The idea was that the battery would have the capacity to power over 30,000 homes in the event of severe blackout for at least an hour.

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The 100-megawatt battery is officially the world's largest, at it will be used to supply South Australia's power grid with backup power during times of shortage.

South Australia suffered a severe blackout past year that left 1.7 million people without electricity, prompting Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull to lash out at state regulations that encouraged what he believed to be a too heavy a reliance on renewable energy: the Australian Energy Market Operator found that the blackout was caused by too sensitive protection mechanisms at some windfarms in South Australia.

Lithium-ion batteries have a greater charge cycle than conventional lead-acid batteries, and can respond within seconds.

"Storage can respond within a fraction of a second. It can address those stability issues very quickly without needing to resort to using large power plants", said Praveen Kathpal, vice president of AES, a losing bidder to build the battery. This is especially important given that this state gets a whopping 40 percent of its electricity from wind energy.

Tesla said it hopes the project "provides a model for future deployments around the world".

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