He bet it all on his reputation and his ability to meet a deadline.
And today, Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of Tesla, has seen a return on his $65.5M dollar bet, as Tesla completed the installation of the energy storage system in South Australia one week ahead of schedule.
Dubbed by many as the “world’s largest lithium ion battery”, Musk (think electric cars and living on Mars), French renewable energy firm Neoen and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherilll collaborated to bring the battery storage system from concept to completion in record time. The system is made up of Tesla Powerpacks, which have the capacity to store 100MW of energy produced by the nearby Hornsdale Wind Farm (privately owned by Neoen).
To put that into perspective – the battery system can power 30, 000 homes for an hour, or 100 homes for an entire 24 hours.
The project was awarded to Telsa in July, 2017, after South Australians suffered through a number of major blackouts in 2016/17. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) had warned of further blackouts for South Australia and Victoria in 2017, reporting that without current mitigation strategies, “the balance of supply and demand in these two regions is sufficiently tight that there is a material risk the reliability standard could be exceeded this summer”.
The project gained a lot of attention in the media, as Musk and well known Australian entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes (Atlassian) engaged in Twitter banter that saw Musk commit to the delivery of the project within 100 days “or it is free”.
The SA Government’s stake in the game comes in the form of significant government investment, including approximately $50M in taxpayer money. But don’t worry – in exchange, the Government and the residents of South Australia will be able to use some of the output of the battery to provide stability for the grid. The battery will also present a cheaper option for purchasing energy when supply-demand pressures and price hikes become unsustainable
The battery is just one of several measures announced in the Premier Weatherill’s broader $550 million energy plan, seeking to address supply shortfalls, soaring prices and concerns over security of the electricity grid.
Testing is expected to be conducted over the coming days, as the battery is scheduled to be completely operational by the December 1 deadline.