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Elon Musk Builds a Really Big Battery

A picture of Elon Musk as a superhero atop a really big battery on Australia.

Tesla is going to make the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery and install it in South Australia. This bold development came about serendipitously via an exchange of Tweets between Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-CEO of Atlassian.

…the Neoen/Tesla bid won due to the strong track record of the proponents, lowest cost, and the value-added elements.

South Australia has been experiencing problems with their power grid ever since a power outage took down the grid for the whole state. In a Tweet, Tesla said that it could solve South Australia’s shortage within 100 days. This would be done with the use of a lithium-ion battery supplying 100-300 MWh of stored energy.

Cannon-Brookes got into the twitter conversation by asking how serious Tesla was about the 100-day installation? Elon Musk, proud as ever, personally vouched for the Tweet by saying that Tesla will have the system installed and working within 100 days from contract signing – otherwise, it would be free! At which point, Cannon-Brookes started to help with the funding and the politics involved in getting the batteries to Australia.

Cannon-Brookes admitted that he did not know anything about batteries and energy before he interjected in the Twitter feed. However, he also worked and researched to catch up with the technology, enough to be able to talk to politicians, technical advisers, scientists and engineers to make this happen. The power will be generated by Neoen, a French renewable energy company which operates a wind-farm in South Australia.

Neoen and Tesla Team Up

In the process, Neoen and Tesla won the tender to build the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery (100MW/129MWh) which will be connected to major wind farm projects capable of 309 MW and operational by the end of 2017. In the tender announcement, Musk mentioned that the battery was “three times more powerful than any other system on earth.” Prior to this, Tesla had already installed a similar battery system in California with a 20MW/80MWh capacity.

The Tesla battery will serve as a frequency regulation and backup power to the Neoen Hornsdale Wind farm. With this installation, Neoen will have almost one billion Australian dollars in direct investment in South Australia. The project will also help stabilize and lower the cost of energy for the region. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill mentioned that the Neoen/Tesla bid won due to the strong track record of the proponents, lowest cost, and the value-added elements. It is not every day that a 100-day installation “or it’s free” clause is included in the contract, even if the end of 2017 is more than 100 days.

Elon Musk has been at the forefront of new technology ever since he launched Tesla Motors. The latest Tesla Model 3 was recently shown to the public and will be available to the first 30 customers in late July. Musk also has the Boring Company which is already creating a development tunnel for the Hyperloop transport.

In addition to this, he is also seriously working on space tourism with his Space X project. The bold end game is to make repeated trips to Mars for both tourism and colonization purposes.


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