Tesla builds giant battery to help meet power needs in South Australia

Tesla Inc has built a giant lithium-ion battery to supplement the power from wind farms. Tesla and the South Australian government hope this will provide more stability in the nation's often inconsistent power grid. 

David Gray/Reuters
A worker inspects the main gate at the Hornsdale power reserve where Tesla has installed the world's largest lithium-ion battery in an effort to stabilize South Australia's power grid.

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, Mr. Musk visited the site some 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Kathpal, who is also chairman of the US 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.

This story was reported by Reuters. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Tesla builds giant battery to help meet power needs in South Australia
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2017/1201/Tesla-builds-giant-battery-to-help-meet-power-needs-in-South-Australia
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe