Tesla Powerwall batteries could be the solution to energy woes and blackouts
Energy innovator Tesla has claimed that its solar batteries could provide the answer to Australia’s energy problems and avoid another occurrence like the major blackouts in South Australia.
The blackouts in late 2016 left much of South Australia without power, and were initially blamed on the state’s heavy reliance on renewable energy. It’s since been acknowledged that the renewable energy technology functioned as it was designed to in the face of a major storm, but Tesla energy products vice-president Lyndon Rive said it would never have been an issue in the first place had Tesla storage batteries been in place at the time.
"If you had storage deployed during the blackout [in] South Australia you wouldn't have had the blackout," he said.
Rive said that Tesla could install as much as 300 megawatts of grid-scale battery storage in 100 days and the technology would come with a price tag of around $66 million per 100 megawatts.
The suggestion that battery storage could solve Australia’s energy problems comes at a time when debate about the viability of a clean, sustainable energy future without costing ordinary Aussies a fortune is raging. It’s also particularly timely, as the University of Melbourne's Climate and Energy College recently revealed that wholesale energy prices have doubled in the time since the carbon tax was axed.
Tesla thinks the answer lies in home solar panels, attached to a battery storage unit like its Powerwall 2, which costs around $10,000 including installation. It is supposedly 40% smaller than the original Powerwall, and has twice the storage.
By allowing Aussie households to store the excess solar energy generated by their solar panels, large-scale use of battery storage would take pressure off the grid, as well as slashing energy bills.
Others were more sceptical of the role household battery systems could play on a national level.
"If Tesla think they can do that, what's stopping them? Providing they aren't asking the government for some sort of subsidy and want to risk their own money, fantastic," said Grattan Institute energy program director Tony Wood.
At the moment, it seems Tesla isn’t banking on a direct subsidy, but for their plan to work there will need to be a change in attitude regarding energy policy in Australia, which currently tends toward fossil fuels, and the plan for a “clean coal” power plant.
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