Elon Musk said Tesla could build Australia a power storage system in 100 days. Now we’ll see
Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk has placed one of his biggest bets yet on where energy development is headed and how fast he can get there.
Musk wagered a few months ago that Tesla could build a grid-connected energy-storage system in Australia within 100 days, or he’d eat the costs. Now he has a chance to prove it.
Tesla announced Friday it will build the world’s most powerful lithium-ion battery storage system in the state of South Australia. Musk pledged the project would be completed in 100 days or it’s free.
Tesla, based in Palo Alto, said it will team up with French renewable energy firm Neoen to complete the project by December — in time for Australia’s summer to begin.
With 100 megawatts of capacity, the system would provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes for a little more than an hour at maximum output. It said the project’s capacity will be three times that of the current largest battery installation.
The biggest installed lithium-ion battery sits on a site owned by San Diego Gas and Electric in Escondido. Californians have increasingly eyed battery storage as an alternative to building more natural gas plants as a way to meet the state’s growing demand for clean energy.
All California utilities must produce 50% of their electricity from clean energy by 2030, and some lawmakers want the mandate raised to 100% by 2045.
Energy storage is viewed by many as a key to achieving the state’s goals while ensuring that the lights stay on.
Last September, 1.7 million residents in South Australia were left without electricity after a storm damaged critical infrastructure, and early this year, more blackouts occurred. To prevent further blackouts, the South Australian government sought a renewable energy solution.
In March, Musk wagered his company could get a grid-connected battery system in South Australia installed and working within 100 days to help alleviate blackouts, going back and forth on Twitter with Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.
At a news conference Friday, Musk said Tesla could end up losing $50 million if the company can’t finish the system in time. The specific costs of the project weren’t revealed.
Although Musk is known for his ability to hype his products, his pledge isn’t so far-fetched, said Robert McCullough, an energy consultant who runs Oregon-based McCullough Research.
In January, Tesla unveiled one of the world’s largest energy-storage facilities in partnership with Southern California Edison. Using 400 Tesla PowerPack units, the facility can store enough energy to power 2,500 homes. That storage project was completed in 90 days.
“The good news about the equipment is it’s modular,” McCullough said. “If you can install one, you can install 100.”
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