Tesla just switched on the world's biggest lithium-ion battery in Australia


  • Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc has switched on the world’s
    biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia.
  • Musk promised to build it in 100 days or give it
  • The battery is designed to shore up the regions grid
    network, which suffers from frequent blackouts.

HORNSDALE, Australia (Reuters) – Tesla Inc switched on the
world’s biggest lithium ion battery on Friday in time to feed
Australia’s shaky power grid for the first day of summer, meeting
a promise by Elon Musk to build it in 100 days or give it free.

“South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable
renewable energy,” state Premier Jay Weatherill said at the
official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, owned by private
French firm Neoen.

Tesla won a bid in July to build the 129-megawatt-hour battery
for South Australia, which expanded in wind power far quicker
than the rest of the country, but has suffered a string of
blackouts over the past 18 months.

In a politically charged debate, opponents of the state’s
renewables push have argued that the battery is a “Hollywood
solution” in a country that still relies on fossil fuels, mainly
coal, for two-thirds of its electricity.


Supporters, however, say it will help stabilize the grid in a
state that now gets more than 40 percent of its electricity from
wind energy, but needs help when the wind dies down.

“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 Energy, a losing bidder to build the battery.

Highlighting industry hopes for the take-up of battery storage,
Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited the site some 225 kms (141 miles)
north of the state capital Adelaide in July, hailing the battery
as “just the beginning”.

The state has yet to reveal how much it is paying Tesla.

Weatherill came under fire last year after the entire state went
black following a major storm, and raced to shore up the state’s
grid with a $385 million plan, including ordering the big battery
and installing diesel-fueled turbines.

AES’s Kathpal, who is also chairman of the U.S. Energy Storage
Association, said South Australia’s commitment to turn to energy
storage was an important step for the rest of the industry.

“We think that’s what’s really going to accelerate the uptake of
energy storage in Australia,” he said.

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