Australia powers up Tesla’s monster battery

Tesla batteries
Tesla’s battery bank is linked to wind turbines in South Australia. (Jay Weatherill via Twitter)

South Australia’s state government turned on the switch for the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery today, marking a signal achievement for rapid deployment of renewable energy resources.

Technically speaking, the 100-megawatt battery bank built by Tesla isn’t the highest-capacity power storage system: Molten-salt batteries, for example, can store more energy for distribution over a longer time. Alphabet’s X team, the “moonshot factory” associated with Google, is currently seeking commercial partners for a megawatt-scale, molten-salt battery project called Malta.

Even in the lithium-ion category, there are bigger power storage systems in the works: A battery bank that’s being built for Southern California Edison can be expanded to store 300 megawatts of power.

But that battery isn’t due for completion until 2021 or so. What’s most notable about the Tesla facility connected to Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm is that it was installed under the terms of a “100 Days or It’s Free” deal with Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Today’s switching-on ceremony took place just 63 days after the grid-connection agreement was signed in September, although Tesla got a head start on the project before the signing.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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