On Friday, the state of South Australia plugged in a 100-megawatt lithium ion battery the size of a football field, attaching it to its shaky power grid in a massive bet on renewable energy against a national government that is promoting coal and natural gas. Tesla's Elon Musk had proposed the battery, promising first on Twitter and then to South Australia's premier, Jay Weatherill, that "Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free." Musk and French partner Neoen — a renewable energy company that runs a wind farm near the battery — delivered it within about 60 days of announcing the contract.
Weatherill, with the Labor Party, touted the battery as an integral part of his $420 million plan to take his state off the national power grid.
South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy, delivered to homes and businesses 24/7. The world’s biggest lithium ion battery. History in the making. @Tesla #cleanenergy #renewables pic.twitter.com/QCDfr1gob4
— Jay Weatherill (@JayWeatherill) December 1, 2017
The $50 million Tesla battery is three times larger than its closest competitor, in Mira Loma, California, USA Today reports. Musk says it will power 30,000 homes for an hour during a blackout. South Australia was hit by several blackouts last year. With energy costs in the state 50-100 percent higher than what Americans pay, and the Liberal national government betting Weatherill will fail, the battery's success is important to both the premier and to Musk. "He needs these battery packs to really become effective," Musk biographer Ashlee Vance tells The New York Times. "He needs this to justify the entire reason of Tesla's existence." Peter Weber