There’s Less To Tesla’s Big Australian Battery Deal Than Meets The Eye

Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks about a growth of a worlds biggest lithium-ion battery in Adelaide, Australia, Friday, Jul 7, 2017. Tesla will partner with French renewable appetite association Neoen to build a 100-megawatt battery plantation in South Australia state. (Ben Macmahon/AAP Image around AP)


It should warn no one to learn that Elon Musk, a master of promotion, is capturing worldwide media courtesy Friday for Tesla’s preference as a winning bidder for a plan to implement “the world’s largest grid-scale battery” in South Australia.

It also shouldn’t come as a warn to anyone who pays courtesy to claims done by promoters that a sum are not as sparkling as a headlines and are almost some-more formidable to discern.

Where Did The Story Begin?

Four months ago, during a predicament in that South Australia’s wind-heavy appetite grid regularly unsuccessful to deliver, Lyndon Rive, a conduct of Tesla’s appetite products division, bragged that his association could yield a discerning repair to a Australian state’s appetite supply problems.

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South Australian grid operators had indicated that their complement woes could be alleviated by adding quick reacting electricity storage able of providing 100 MW for somewhere between one and 3 hours. Supposedly, that volume of stored electricity would be sufficient to well-spoken out fluctuations constructed by variations in breeze speed.

Stating a obvious, there is a cause of 3 disproportion in distance between a 100 MWhr battery and a 300 MWhr battery. However, Rive seemed to prove during an interview with a Australian Financial Review that Tesla was meddlesome in provision a high finish of a range.

“We don’t have 300MWh sitting there prepared to go though I’ll make certain there are,” Mr. Rive said.

Rive’s certainty in his company’s ability to broach was upheld by a new opening of Tesla’s famous battery prolongation facility, a vast GigaFactory 1, nearby Sparks, Nevada. It was reinforced by a fact that Tesla had recently commissioned a 20 MW, 80 MWhr battery in Southern California.

That plan was finished in reduction than 3 months. It was partial of Southern California Edison’s response to electricity trustworthiness concerns compared with a detriment of internal healthy gas storage as a outcome of large, formidable to stop trickle during a Aliso Canyon storage facility.

Tesla Inc. Powerpacks and inverters mount during a Southern California Edison Co. Mira Loma appetite storage complement trickery in Ontario, California, U.S., on Thursday, Jun 1, 2017. The Mira Loma substation houses scarcely 400 Tesla Powerpack units, produces 20 MW of electrical appetite and stores 80 MW-hrs of energy. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Unsurprisingly, there was some doubt among observers about Tesla’s ability to broach a complement with 5 times a appetite rating and some-more than 3 times a storage ability in a same duration of time to a plcae approximately 8,000 miles over from a company’s Nevada prolongation trickery than Southern California.

Rive has an determined story of creation idealist claims, though his record of smoothness on those promises isn’t spotless. Before Tesla purchased a financially struggling SolarCity in Aug 2016, Lyndon Rive had been a CEO for 10 years. He and his hermit co-founded a association with financial subsidy from their cousin, Elon Musk.

Musk stoked heated seductiveness in Tesla’s enterprise to assistance South Australia – while generating broadside for a new line of grid-connected batteries – by publicly hire behind his cousin’s offer. The genuine attention-getter was a boon if their association fails to accommodate a deadline – Musk betrothed that a complement will be giveaway if it is not operational within 100 days after a agreement has been signed.

How Much Power Will The System Produce? How Much Energy Will It Store?

As a initial flurry of fad generated by Musk’s offer began to dissipate, serious people attempted to determine accurately what Musk and Rive had betrothed to do and to guess how most a plan would cost.

On Twitter, Musk had done an attractive, though guardedly competent cost guess of $250/kw-hr for installations incomparable than 100 MWhr. He quick certified that cost does not embody shipping, installation, taxes or tariffs. He unsuccessful to state that a cost expected does not embody site specific engineering, site suitable cooling systems or site specific grid tie infrastructure.

Adequate cooling systems are critical for high power, energy-dense battery installations. High liberate rates beget adequate feverishness to repairs a battery and a ancillary electronics. Fires and explosions are some-more visit occurrences than preferred and are a high risk for improperly cooled or tranquil systems.

With those additional designation investments, an guess of $500-$600  per kilowatt-hour of storage is substantially closer to reality. An commissioned 100 MW/300 MWhr lithium-ion appetite hire would cost somewhere between $150 million -$180 million (200 million Australian dollars to A$240 million)

Within a context of addressing South Australia’s electric appetite complement fortitude needs, a 300 MW-hr designation appears to have been unaffordable. Premier Jay Weatherill has a sum of A$550 million available, and Tesla’s vast battery is usually a partial of a required capability.

As Gizmodo has reported, a complement that Tesla will be installing will yield 129 MW-hr of appetite storage capacity, reduction than half of what Rive creatively hinted could be delivered. At a liberate rate of 100 MW, a battery will be totally depleted in reduction than 80 minutes. As all dungeon phone, inscription or laptop mechanism owners should know, it isn’t advisable to entirely liberate a Li-ion battery. It can dramatically revoke battery lifetime.

Are Tesla Type Batteries Renewable Energy Saviors?

The complement will not solve South Australia’s grid woes by itself.

The response plan also includes a new supervision funded, A$360 million, 250 MWe quick reacting gas turbine appetite plant, a bulk electricity squeeze agreement designed to inspire construction of a new secretly owned appetite plant, a taxpayer financed scrutiny account for additional healthy gas supplies, special powers postulated to a SA appetite apportion to sequence plants to operate, and a requirement for electricity retailers to squeeze a bound apportionment of their appetite from SA generators.

The South Australian supervision and Tesla have declined requests to yield details about a sum plan cost for a “world’s largest grid-connected battery.” Musk certified that Tesla could remove in additional of $50 million if it is incompetent to accommodate a betrothed deadline.

Lyndon Rive, a executive whose guarantee developed into this potentially game-changing project, was not partial of a final traffic and will not be concerned in a plan execution. He announced in May that he was withdrawal a association in Jun to spend some-more time with his family and to maybe start a new business try subsequent year. That preference competence have zero to do with a South Australian project.


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