The world's largest lithium ion battery has begun providing electricity into the power grid in South Australia. The project is a collaboration between the state government, American firm Tesla, and Neoen, a French energy company.
Tesla boss Elon Musk, who was not in attendance at the switch-on, had boldly promised to build the battery in South Australia within 100 days - a pledge that has been fulfilled. The 100-megawatt battery was officially activated Friday. Musk has said it was three times more powerful than the world's next biggest battery, and promised to deliver it for free had it not been built on schedule.
The South Australian state government hopes the project can prevent power outages because it can rapidly deploy electricity when it is most needed and reduce prices.
Last September, South Australia suffered a state-wide power outage when storms damaged the electricity network.
State premier Jay Weatherill believes the new battery will guarantee energy supplies.
“People were making fun of South Australia for its leadership in renewable energy and blaming it for the black-out," said Weatherill. "That, of course, has now been debunked as a myth. We now know that our leadership in renewable energy is not only leading the nation but leading the world, and we are more than happy to supply our beautiful renewable energy stored in a battery to help out the national electricity market.”
Located near Jamestown, about 200 kilometers north of Adelaide, the Tesla-built 100 megawatt lithium ion battery is connected to a wind farm run by French energy company Neoen.
The farm has 99 wind turbines and generates electricity that can be stored in the battery to serve 30,000 people for about an hour. In a statement, the California-based firm said the project in South Australia showed “that a sustainable, effective energy solution is possible”.
Critics of the battery have said the technology’s potential has been exaggerated.
The bulk of Australia’s electricity is still generated by coal, and the nation is one of the world’s worst per capita emitters of greenhouses gases.