Tesla Mega-Battery Goes Online in Australia

The world’s biggest Lithium-Ion battery began dispatching power into Australia’s grid on Friday. It delivers an audacious promise by Tesla’s Elon Musk to build the battery in 100 days or provide it for free.

Tesla’s Powerpack battery is connected to a wind farm in South Australia. It has the capacity to supply 30,000 homes for one hour, which is three times more powerful than the next biggest battery.

The storage solution has been subsidized by the the state government, which is building greater resilience  into its power network. It follows blackouts last year that sparked a nationwide debate about the reliability of renewable energy.

The mega-battery marks the latest phase of a lithium-ion battery revolution. Advocates say it is transforming the world’s energy systems by enabling the integration of low-cost solar and wind power into national grids. The Tesla battery is estimated to have cost US$38m to build.

In October, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government published a National Energy Guarantee Policy. It aimed to build greater resilience into the energy grid by ditching a national green energy target and provided a lifeline for coal-fired power stations.

But so far, state governments have refused to sign up for the federal plan, leaving Australia without a coordinated energy or climate change policy. 

Jay Weatherhill, South Australian Premier, is opposed to the National Strategy. He said it would strangle investment in solar and wind  energy and is designed to prop up polluting coal power stations. He also says the 2016 blackouts in South Australia were caused by severe weather and were not a renewable energy event.

Tesla’s battery is connected to the Hormlade Wind Farm, which has 99 turbines with a generation capacity of 315MW. It can provide roughly 129 MW hours of power for the national grid when shortfalls emerge at peak times such as summer or during severe weather events.