Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state’s energy woes within 100 days – or he’ll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free.
On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state.
Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days.
Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Atlassian, on Friday tweeted Elon Musk, asking if Tesla was serious about being able to install the capacity.
Musk replied that the company could do it in 100 days of the contract being signed, or else provide it free, adding: “That serious enough for you?”
SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young replied to Musk: “Let’s talk!”
Rive, Musk’s cousin who co-founded with him the solar energy outfit SolarCity, had said Tesla’s battery technology could address the power shortfall from the Hazelwood power plant closure in Victoria, as well as SA’s blackouts.
“We don’t have 300MWh sitting there ready to go but I’ll make sure there are,” he told the AFR.
Tesla recently completed an installation of an 80MWh grid-scale battery farm in southern California within just 90 days, which cost $100m US.
Repeated blackouts in SA since September last year have sparked a political brawl over energy policy, with the federal government blaming the failures on the use of renewable technologies. The most recent blackout was in early February; the Australian Energy Market Operator said there were many factors behind it, including higher demand than anticipated.
Grid scale battery storage could help to even out price spikes, prevent blackouts and improve reliability across the network.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) recently approved a $450,000 grant to EnergyAustralia to investigate a pumped hydro energy storage project in the Spencer Gulf. That project has a capacity to produce about 100MW with six to eight hours of storage.
In comparison, Tumut 3 hydroelectric station, Australia’s largest pumped hydro storage, has a capacity of 1,500 megawatts.
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