The idea is that energy storage technologies can take power during off-peak hours and put it back into the grid when it’s needed.
As well, wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity generation, so this power needs to be stored if the grid is to rely entirely on renewables. South Australia already gets about 50 per cent of its energy from renewables, mostly wind and solar.
Tesla says this battery is “infinitely scalable” — that means a business could buy a single Powerpack so that it still has power during a blackout, while a city, state or country could install hundreds, thousands or even millions of them in order to support an entire grid.In 2015, Musk said you’d be able to transition the United States to renewable energy with 160 million of them, and the entire world with 900 million.
South Australia Solution
Musk spoke with the premier of South Australia on Saturday after the tech entrepreneur offered to install $25 million of battery storage within 100 days to prevent recurring blackouts that have disrupted the state. The proposal follows a string of power outages, including a blackout that left industry crippled for up to two weeks and stoked fears of more outages across the national electricity market due to tight supplies. “Just spoke with Premier of South Australia (Jay Weatherill).
Very impressed. Govt is clearly committed to a smart, quick solution,” Musk wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Weatherill said in a statement on Saturday the conversation about the battery proposal was “positive”. Musk made the offer on Twitter on Friday, saying if the work was not completed in 100 days it would be free. [nL3N1GN2W8] His proposal made headlines in Australia, which is in the midst of a heated debate about the national electricity market and energy security.
Musk proposed the battery storage fix in response to a comment on social media by Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder of Australian software maker Atlassian Corp <TEAM.O>. Cannon-Brookes said he would be willing to line up funding and political support if Tesla could supply batteries that would solve South Australia’s problems. Musk responded by tweeting: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?” He quoted a price of $250 per kilowatt hour for 100 megawatt hour systems, which would imply a price of $25 million for the battery packs.
Tesla’s solution may not be enough
In response to South Australia’s power problems, Tesla has been talking about a battery array capable of storing somewhere between 100 and 300MWh. While that’s a measure of storage, the actual output of these batteries isn’t clear.
The example Tesla used in its pitch, an 80MWh battery array in southern California, outputs energy at 20MW.
For context, when South Australia ran short of power on a hot day last month, the Australian Energy Market Operator ordered 100MW of electricity demand be switched off.
Zen Energy estimates a battery output of 100MW would be needed to prevent such load-shedding blackouts, and up to 150MW would be needed to provide the sort of grid stability issues that caused a statewide blackout last year.
That’s not to say Tesla’s idea wouldn’t help, or that it couldn’t provide more batteries. But it is worth bearing in mind when we’re talking about a system “fix” at a certain price.
So what will happen?
Batteries will happen. It’s just a question of when.
Some of the proponents think they’ll be up and operating in time for next summer, when potential power shortfalls have been predicted across South Australia and Victoria.
It is too early to write off the Tesla proposal entirely. But it’s worth noting they’ll need a customereither an energy company, or a government. Both of those entities have known about Tesla’s batteries for a while now. Yet as far as we know, none of the developed proposals are based on Tesla’s proprietary technology.