Tesla set to build world’s biggest renewable energy battery in South Australia

By Kelly Emmerton ·

It seems South Australia has taken Tesla founder Elon Musk up on his offer of “100 megawatts of storage capacity in 100 days or it’s free” as his company gears up to build the world’s largest lithium ion battery.

The battery is being built to bolster the state’s renewable energy system, as part of the response to the September 2016 SA blackout, which saw the entire state lose electricity. At the time, 1.7 million people were left without power and a high reliance on renewable energy was partially blamed for the severity of the fallout.

The project gives Musk the chance to follow through with the bet he made on Twitter in March, in which he said Tesla could solve South Australia’s energy woes in 100 days by building 100 megawatts of storage capacity - or it would be free.

According to Tesla’s website, the company “was awarded the entire energy storage system component of the project,” which involved providing a 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system to help improve the reliability of South Australia’s electricity grid.

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Tesla said that the project is, “not only sustainable, but will help solve power shortages, reduce intermittencies, and manage summertime peak load to improve the reliability of South Australia's electrical infrastructure.”

"It's a fundamental efficiency improvement to the power grid, and it's really quite necessary and quite obvious considering a renewable energy future," said Musk.

The battery will be charged by Hornsdale Wind Farm, owned by French renewable energy firm, Neoen and store power for when it’s needed to be fed back into the grid.

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South Australia is a leader in sustainable energy, sourcing more than 40% of its electricity from solar and wind. The state has a current goal of reaching 50% renewable energy by 2025, after reaching its goal of 33% renewable energy in 2014.

The state's reliance on renewable energy was called into question after the statewide blackout in September 2016 began with storm damage to three major transmission lines, followed by a massive load spike on the interconnector to Victoria as wind farms disconnected from the energy grid.

But industry experts defended renewables, and New York Chairman of Energy, Richard Kauffman said at the time that the wind farms at the heart of the blackout functioned just as they were meant to.

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