Elon Musk and Tesla aren’t known for their timeliness. However, one case may be an exception. Musk had bet in March he would be able to make a 100 megawatt Powerpack operational in South Australia or he would pay for it. It seems he may win this round, despite a history of crossing his own deadlines for the project.
Tesla completed installing a 100 megawatt lithium-ion based system, which makes it the world’s biggest battery, in South Australia on Wednesday. The battery will now face regulatory testing to ensure it is optimized and meets the government’s standard, before operations commence Dec. 1.
Musk had made the bet Sept. 29, at a time when the company was halfway through completing the project.
While the bet was made on Twitter and may not have any legal binding, Musk has delivered before time for once and this may be saving him a lot of money — the 100 megawatt Powerpack is capable of storing energy equivalent to what a small power plant generates and costs 65 million Australian dollars (around $50 million).
It could also create better avenues for the renewable industry to replace similar fossil fuel-based power plants. The Tesla Powerpack unit will resolve many issues for South Australia, which suffered through a blackout in Sept. 2016. The Powerpack is expected to stabilize the grid and supply power to 30,000 homes.
"While others are just talking, we are delivering our energy plan, making South Australia more self-sufficient, and providing back up power and more affordable energy for South Australians this summer. The world's largest lithium-ion battery will be an important part of our energy mix, and it sends the clearest message that South Australia will be a leader in renewable energy with battery storage," Jay Weatherill, the Premier of the Australian state, said in a statement.
Musk’s large Powerpacks seem to hold out hope for a fledgling solar industry. Even though the Powerpacks have been facing demand in China and India, they are running into various challenges globally. Some world leaders including President Donald J. Trump have been advocating a move towards ‘clean coal’ or even regular to safeguard the jobs of coal miners.
Even in Australia, a political coalition of the center-right parties has been advocating a return to coal. In other countries, solar projects are marred by financing and implementation concerns. India, which had claimed it will generate 40,000 gigawatts of solar energy by 2020, has been mired in an issue nobody anticipated — the prices of solar panels are so low that they have ceased to be a profitable investment.
If Musk’s 100 megawatt Powerpack passes tests, it could mean installation time for solar energy grids could be minimized. This would entail a reduction in the cost of supplying energy to homes and could make for significant savings for the regular Joe.
While the solar industry goes through the grind, Musk’s Powerpack comes as welcome announcement.