Elon Musk’s Tesla just switched on the world’s largest battery in Australia

True to his word, and ahead of schedule, Elon Musk has switched on the world’s biggest Lithium-ion battery in South Australia.

The giant battery array was completed just two weeks ago and following a phase of tests, the powerplant is now operational.   

Back in September, Tesla’s vice president for energy products (and Musk’s cousin) Lyndon Rive claimed the company could build enough battery storage capacity with its Powerwall 2, to solve energy supply woes in the region in just 100 days. 

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Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has previously bemoaned the use of coal and other energy issues in the state, responded by saying that if Tesla was serious and could deliver on its claim, he would help pay for it.

 In a tweet to Musk, Lyndon wrote: “How serious are you about this bet? If I can make the $ happen (& politics), can you guarantee 100 MW in 100 days?” to which Musk replied: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?”

The 100-megawatt battery array has been installed alongside French company Neoen’s Hornsdale windfarm near Jamestown and has been designed to “provide security to the state’s electricity grid.” The array will be charged by the windfarm and operators will be able to sell some of this energy back to the grid when demand or prices are higher. 

At that capacity, the Tesla array is capable of storing enough energy to power 30,000 homes in the region for around an hour. It will not be used as the main power source, instead the local government will be able to tap into it when needed, during surges or when energy supply from the windfarm is low in the summer, for example.

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Although the installation costs have been covered,  local residents will need to subside the battery and reports suggest this will be in the region of $50 million.

South Australia suffers from so-called “load shedding” blackouts which left people without power in September last year, and again in February. These blackouts happen when supply can’t meet demand and the power companies are told to switch off electricity to protect the grid. 

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