Tesla has been dominated the tech world with news of its new line of semi-trucks. The first of their kind, the entirely electric transport vehicles are not only impressive for their environmentally friendly system, but for the shockingly low retail price, which the company confirmed would start out at $180,000. While this project is certainly notable, it overshadowed another achievement recently attained by the company involving the construction of a new energy solution for South Australia.
Due to various infrastructure problems, South Australia has struggled to provide energy utilities to some segments of its population, much to the frustration of citizens and causing disruption for local businesses. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, made a public promise to solve the problem. In the statement, Musk declared his company would construct a massive ion battery farm, the world’s largest of its kind, designed to store solar and wind energy for use during peak demand periods. While a colossal undertaking in its own right, the entrepreneur stated that the project would be completed in 100 days; if not,the 100MW battery farm would be constructed and given over to the state for free.
While Tesla has often struggled to deliver on its promises according to timelines, a fact borne out by recent delays with their Model 3, many were surprised that the battery farm is already structurally complete. Within the next week the batteries will be charged and officially enter their testing phase. Once the testing phase is completed, the batteries are to finally enter official operation on December 1st, thus meeting the 100-day deadline. The counter officially began at the end of September 2017 so given that the farm is in its final testing phase, Musk’s project is actually well ahead of schedule. While the actual cost of the project is unclear, estimates place it around $50 million.
The batteries are integrated into the large Hornesdale Wind Farm, located some miles north of Adelaide, South Australia’s capital and the fifth most populated city in the country. In September of 2016 residents reacted angrily after blackouts occurred across the state, leading to a national dialogue about the future of the state’s energy security. For their part, the government cited the inability of renewable or green energy to adequately supply demand, but the battery farm installed by Musk should help to remedy the issue. The massive battery farm is capable of storing energy from both solar and wind and supplies it out through the wider grid when energy demands spike.