Jamestown, South Australia is making history, it’ll be the location of the world’s largest battery farm, supplying 100MW of storage to stabilise the SA energy grid. The batteries will be supplied by Tesla. On stage with SA Premier Jay Weatherill, Elon Musk has committed to deliver the PowerPack to SA in 100 days or less, or its free.
Make no mistake about it, Tesla will hit this target. Amazingly Weatherill revealed Tesla, combined with French renewable energy company Neoen, beat 90 other competitors for the job.
This is going to be the largest battery station in the world by some margin. We’re talking about something that is 3 times the next biggest battery station in the world.
South Australia, and Australia more broadly has to thank Michael Cannon-Brookes the co-founder and co-CEO Atlassian for the historic deal. Without vigorous back and forwarding with Musk on Twitter (most in public which was great) this would never have happened.
This story began back in September of 2016 when 1.7 million residents in South Australia (who has an aggressive renewables energy plan for the state), lost power after a massive, once in 50-year storm, damaged critical infrastructure, causing a state-wide blackout. In the subsequent months, the state continued to receive criticism even from the Prime Minister for not managing the electricity grid properly, claiming such a high reliance on renewable energy that created single points of failure. As wind and solar creates intermittent energy collection, it wasn’t always enough to cover the magical base load power, which then had to be purchased from the grid in other states (like Victoria) that still relies heavily on coal.
Today’s deal fundamentally ends that debate. By storing the power captured from renewables in lithium-ion batteries, the state will have the capacity to reduce power prices and maintain the availability of power to residents and businesses.
This grid-scale energy storage will be made up of at least 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity, using Tesla commercial version of their Powerwall technology for homes, known as Powerpack. While the Powerwall can scale up to support 9 daisy chained together, the Powerpack doesn’t have a limit to the scale at which it can grow to. This will be the biggest in the world, supporting as many as 30,000 homes, which will certainly draw the world’s attention.
Despite the scale, the completion date for the project is December 2017.
Its time the Prime Minister and the critics ended their debate about renewables as the storage question just got answered. While the initial cost of the project is significant, its expected to pay for itself before the life of the batteries expires, its expected to be in the vicinity of 15 years.
This is one of those days where you can be proud of your country for finding their way to the right technology solution to solve one of our biggest problems.
7News Sydney have the full announcement on their Facebook page and you can watch it below. It runs for around 30 minutes and Elon Musk answers plenty of questions about the announcement including how it compares against coal power and the jobs and tourism aspects.