Elon Musks’ Tesla, in collaboration with French renewable energy firm Neoen, has announced their intent to build the world’s largest lithium ion battery to store renewable energy in South Australia. Musk has said he anticipates it will help stabilize the power grid and help bring down prices for consumers.
On Friday, the Australian state’s premier Jay Weatherill confirmed the deal, which is a key part of the government’s $550 million energy plan. The 100 MW battery, which will be paired with a wind farm, is designed to improve the security of electricity supplies across South Australia.
Deputy Chief Executive of Neoen, Romain Desrousseaux, said that the South Australian lithium ion battery would become the largest in the world. The battery is expected to be built near Jamestown, and will be paired with Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm to provide stability for renewable power being fed into the grid. The South Australian deal with Tesla and Neoen is an attempt to seek out a renewable energy solution.
Last year, nearly 2 million South Australian residents were left without electricity after a storm damaged critical infrastructure. Residents then suffered blackouts earlier this year due to the lack of ability to deliver the needed energy. Many in the federal government attempted to place blame for the failures on the use of renewable technologies. However, the Australian Energy Market Operator has stated there were many factors behind it, including higher demand for energy than anticipated.
With 100 megawatts of capacity, the system could provide enough power to more than 30,000 homes for a little more than an hour at maximum output. The project’s capacity will be three times that of the current largest battery installation, which is currently in Escondido, California owned by San Diego Gas and Electric.
“South Australia is tackling climate change head-on and should be congratulated for its innovation and leadership as it transforms our energy system into one that’s clean, affordable, efficient and secure,” Climate Council’s Tim Flannery said. Flannery also added that the federal government should be encouraging further investment in energy storage to assist in building the renewable energy sector.
The Californian public has increasingly looked towards battery storage as an alternative to building more natural gas plants as a way to meet the state’s continuing growing demand for clean energy. Recent legislation has mandated that all California utilities must produce 50 percent of their electricity from clean energy by 2030, with some lawmakers pushing for 100 percent by 2045. Energy storage has been looked at a key and convenient means of achieving the state’s established goals.
In January, Tesla announced their partnership with Southern California Edison, unveiling one of the world’s largest energy-storage facilities. The project took 90 days to complete, and uses 400 Tesla PowerPack units, which the facility can use to store enough energy to power 2,500 homes. Significant progress in energy storage has the potential to fundamentally change how electricity grids operate in not just California, but across the nation.
In March, Elon Musk tweeted that he would deliver the battery within 100 days of signing the contract or it would be delivered free; a pledge which has been confirmed by the state government. Although specific costs of the project have yet to be revealed, it is estimated Tesla could end up losing $50 million if the company can’t finish the system in time.
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