At an event in Jamestown, South Australia on Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company was halfway through installing a utility grade 100MW/129MWh battery bank near the site of the 100MW Hornsdale wind farm.
The battery bank will be the largest grid-connected system in the world when completed. (Currently, the largest grid-connected system is a 30MW/120MWh facility built by AES Energy Storage in Southern California.) The project grew out of a Twitter bet between Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Telsa CEO Elon Musk and SpaceX. In response to Cannon-Brookes’ disbelief at the speed at which Tesla claimed to be able to install grid-connected batteries, Musk pledged to deliver a system to South Australia, a state that has experienced debilitating blackouts in recent summers, “in 100 days or it’s free. .”
But “100 days or it’s free” didn’t include time to negotiate contracts, and after the bet, Tesla went through a competitive bidding process with the state of South Australia for access to a A$150 million ($115 million) renewable energy fund. ) to reduce the cost of the batteries. Earlier this year, Musk gave estimates on Twitter suggesting a 129 MWh system would cost $32.35 million, not including taxes and labor. Tesla won the bidding round and entered into a partnership with French company Neoen, owner of the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia’s mid-northern region. Musk later noted that if Tesla missed the 100-day deadline, the company could lose “$50 million or more.”
This Friday, Tesla announced the start of the 100-day countdown, initiated after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) approved the project.
But Tesla has apparently given itself ample berth to meet that 100-day deadline, as the company has already worked to get the Hornsdale facility up and running. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Musk said Friday night that Tesla was about halfway through building the battery bank and installing the batteries. The batteries are made at the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.
ABC also noted that South Australian Prime Minister Jay Weatherill attended Tesla’s Friday night party, where he told the crowd: “There were a lot of people making fun of South Australia and making fun of our renewable energy leadership . laughing out the other side of their faces.”
Musk told the crowd, “To have that [construction] ready in two months… you can’t remodel your kitchen in that time.”
The Tesla CEO also appeared to be making an opening bid for more Tesla projects in Australia. According to ABC, the CEO told the Friday night audience that “Australia could be powered by 1,890 square kilometers of solar panels – about one-tenth the size of Sydney, backed by seven square kilometers of batteries.” Tesla’s recent purchase of solar panel manufacturer SolarCity could enable the company to offer solar arrays as well.