What Tesla’s Bet-Winning Battery Project Means for the Grid

by | Dec 1, 2017

Tesla battery power Australia grid

The Hornsdale Power Reserve Battery uses Tesla’s Powerpack technology. Credit: Hornsdale Power Reserve

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been ridiculously busy lately what with introducing an all-electric truck line, a new Roadster, digging tunnels, trying to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, and racing the clock for a bet he placed on building the world’s biggest grid-scale battery in 100 days or it’s free.

While many stateside were distracted by Thanksgiving, Musk made good on his bet, announcing the completion of a 100-MW lithium-ion battery project in South Australia. If he hadn’t been able to complete the project before the deadline, Musk estimates it would have cost him at least $50 million, according to Business Insider.

“When fully charged, the battery, Tesla’s Powerpack, is expected to hold enough power for 8,000 homes for 24 hours, or more than 30,000 houses for an hour during a blackout,” Business Insider reported.

The battery is connected to the Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm, located around 140 miles north of Adelaide. It has interesting implications for South Australia, which has been plagued by blackouts and soaring energy prices. Known as the Hornsdale Power Reserve battery, it can provide back-up power to a small city, but Greentech Media’s Julian Spector points out that the system can only supply electricity for an hour.

“That could be long enough to keep customers powered until traditional backup generation sources come on-line, preventing a repeat of the rolling blackouts that spurred the project,” Spector wrote. Anything longer will require more development. “Australians will have to wait for storage paired with renewables to compete with gas peakers at scale. That should happen by 2025, according to research by GTM and Wood Mackenzie.”

Energy has become a political hot potato in Australia. Many are watching the country’s government, energy industry, and corporate leaders closely to see how they move ahead. Whatever unfolds could also happen in other parts of the world with similar conditions. Let’s see what this grid-scale battery can really do.

Vendors mentioned above:

  • Tesla
  • Neoen

We are accepting submissions for the 2018 Energy Manager Today Product and Project Awards. The final deadline is December 15, 2017. Learn more here.

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