On Friday Tesla activated the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery. The battery, with a storage capacity of 129 megawatt-hours, has now started feeding power into South Australia’s electricity grid. Though it officially started today, it did give some power on Thursday, thanks to the local hot weather, notes the BBC.
Biggest battery – not for long
Apart from being the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery, this project is also special for Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, who promised to construct the battery within 100 days or give it free. The launch comes just over 60 days after Tesla signed the deal for the project. More importantly, it comes on the first day of the Australian summer, the time of the year when power demand soars owing to the use of air conditioning.
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The battery, connected to a wind farm run by the French energy company Neoen, is located about 125 miles north of Adelaide. The battery, based on a grid system, uses the same technology that is used to power Tesla cars. Panasonic is Tesla’s official partner for the development and production of the Powerpack technology. However, for the South Australia facility, the U.S. firm partnered with Samsung, as Panasonic was unable to supply the needed batteries to meet the deadline, notes the BBC.
Musk claims that this battery is three times more powerful than the next biggest battery. At its full capacity, the battery can power up to 30,000 homes for about an hour. It may be the world’s biggest battery now, but it may not remain so for long. In South Korea, Hyundai Electric & Energy Systems is developing a system that is about 50% bigger than Tesla’s. The Korean facility is expected to start operating sometime early next year.
Will it solve South Australia’s power crisis?
Compared to the rest of the country, South Australia has been far quicker in adopting wind energy. Opponents to the state’s renewable energy push argued that a battery is not a permanent fix in a country which depends on fossil fuels for the majority of its electricity needs. On the other hand, advocates of renewable energy believed that the battery would support the grid when the wind energy is insufficient. Currently, South Australia meets about 40% of its electricity need from wind energy.
“Storage can respond within a fraction of a second. It can address those stability issues very quickly without needing to resort to using large power plants,” said the vice president of AES Energy, Praveen Kathpal, according to the Independent. AES Energy was one of the bidders to develop the battery for South Australia.
In recent times, South Australia has faced severe electricity problems. In one incident last year, the entire state lost power. This battery project is a part of the state’s $420 million push to make it independent of the grid. Weatherill announced the plan in March. How much Tesla has been paid for the project has not been revealed yet.
“This is history in the making,” said South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill at the official launch of the battery.
At 9:43 a.m. EST, Tesla shares were down 0.91% at $306.05.