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07 July 2017

Elon Musk’s Tesla to build SA’s giant battery

TESLA, the company of tech billionaire Elon Musk, will partner with French renewable energy developer Neoen to build the “world’s biggest lithium ion battery” in South Australia.

And if they don’t deliver the battery in under 100 days, it will be free.

Premier Jay Weatherill announced on Friday that Tesla and Neoen would be tasked with providing the 100MW battery under a “historic agreement”.

Tesla will build the battery, which will store energy generated at Neoen’s 99-turbine wind farm at Hornsdale, near Jamestown in the Mid North.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. Picture: Tait Schmaal

Tesla CEO Elon Musk with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. Picture: Tait SchmaalSource:News Corp Australia

Under the agreement between Mr Musk and the State Government, if the battery is not delivered by Tesla within 100 days of the grid interconnection agreement being signed, it will be free.

Mr Weatherill said it was an “extraordinary offer” and would help South Australia become a world-leader in battery storage technology.

“Battery storage is the future of our national energy market, and the eyes of the world will be following our leadership in this space,” he said.

“This historic agreement does more than bring a sustainable energy giant in Tesla to South Australia, it will also have some significant economic spin-offs.”

There were 91 international bidders according to Mr Weatherill.

The charismatic entrepreneur behind such companies as PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX is one of the richest people on the planet. But it’s more than just making money for Musk. He has a vision for the future of humanity, and it includes leaving this planet entirely.

Speaking at a media conference in Adelaide, the Telsa chief executive admitted his gambit to deliver a lithium ion battery — which is three times more powerful than any other system on earth — within 100 days was “risky”.

“If South Australia is willing to take a risk, so are we,” Mr Musk said.

The battery is expected to create an ‘initial huge input’ of local jobs during the construction phase but Mr Musk says there will be few ongoing positions since the system is designed to self-sustaining.

Local company Consolidated Power Projects won a contract for ongoing work and maintenance.

Neoen deputy chief executive Romain Desrousseaux said the Hornsdale Power Reserve would become the state’s largest renewable generator.

“South Australian customers will be the first to benefit from this technology which will demonstrate that large-scale battery storage is both possible and now, commercially viable.”

Mr Musk claimed he could fix SA’s power crisis for $33 million and in under 100 days after Premier Jay Weatherill revealed his $550 million plan to secure the state’s energy supply in March.

An example of what South Australia’s planned new battery plant could look like.

He was first linked to the giant battery project when he responded to a tweet from fellow tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who challenged him to build a 100MW battery farm in SA.

Musk tweeted in response: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?”

Another of the applicants, Carnegie Clean Energy, were informed its bid had been unsuccessful earlier on Friday morning.

“We are disappointed with the outcome … we felt we had a compelling and local proposition but we wish the South Australian Government well,” Carnegie’s managing director Dr Michael Ottaviano said.

THE $550M PLAN TO SOLVE SA’S POWER CRISIS

The Government’s six-point plan to provide energy security for SA involves:

BUILDING a State Government-owned, fast start gas-fired power station that can come on when the market does not provide enough energy to keep the lights on. It is expected to cost about $360 million. No site has yet been selected. It would be 250MW, enough to deliver close to 10 per cent of SA’S peak demand.

SUPPORTING construction of the biggest battery in Australia — and possibly the world — as part of a $150 million spend on a new renewable technology fund.

ENCOURAGING the construction of a new privately-owned power station using a Government bulk buy power contract.

INCENTIVISING the extraction of more gas for use in SA power stations, through a taxpayer-backed exploration fund.

GIVING the SA energy minister powers to override other regulators and force power stations to fire up in times of need.

CREATING an “energy security target”, which requires retailers to buy 36 per cent of their power from baseload sources in SA.

South Australia’s energy plan will give the state greater local control of our energy security. The Govt are incentivising local exploration for more gas supplies to feed new generation. The state will be at the forefront of next-generation renewable storage technology.

The power plan was released after the entire state was plunged into darkness in September last year.

Mr Weatherill claims the plan will reduce bills and blackouts while also creating renewable energy jobs.

In March, he invited Mr Musk to tender for the battery.

“The battery must have a capacity of approximately 100MW and be operational in time for this summer. The private sector will own, operate and maintain the battery,” Mr Weatherill said.

The charismatic entrepreneur behind such companies as PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX is one of the richest people on the planet. But it’s more than just making money for Musk. He has a vision for the future of humanity, and it includes leaving this planet entirely.

Originally published as Billionaire delivers on promise to Australia

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