On Friday, Tesla Inc. flipped the switch on, on the world’s largest lithium battery in time to feed the unstable power grid of South Australia on the first day of summer, which met a promise made by owner Elon Musk to build the battery within 100 days or hand it over free.
Jay Weatherill the state Premier said South Australia now leads the world in dispatchable renewable energy. Weatherill was speaking at the official launching of Hornsdale wind farm that Neoen a private company from France owns.
Tesla won the bidding for building a 129-megawatt hour battery in July for South Australia. The state expanded far quicker in wind power that the remainder of the country. However, it has also suffered a series of blackouts during the last 18 months.
In a debate that was politically charged, opponents to the renewables push by the state argue the battery is just a Hollywood solution for a country that relies on mainly coal, but also other fossil fuels, for over two-thirds of the electricity it generates.
However, supporters say the battery will stabilize the electrical grid in South Australia that at present receives over 40% of its electricity through wind energy, but when there is little wind, still needs help.
One of the bidders’, who lost the battery deal to Tesla, said that storage is able to respond within a fraction of a second to address issues of stability almost instantly without the need of using a large power plant.
In July, highlighting hopes for the industry in taking on battery storage, Elon Musk the CEO and founder of Tesla visited the site, which is over 141 miles to the north of Adelaide the state capital, calling the battery only the beginning.
The state did not say then or now the amount it was paying Tesla for the battery.
Weatherill received much criticism last year following a period when the entire state lost power after a big storm, and quickly tried to determine how to shore up the electrical grid in the state with a plan worth $285 million, including ordering Tesla’s huge battery as well as installing turbines that are diesel powered.
One industry analyst called the commitment by South Australia to shift to energy storage in an attempt to end the blackouts a huge step for the remainder of the industry.
He added that the belief is it will accelerate the use of energy storage across Australia.