Musk, Tesla and Sustainability: Synonyms?

During a recent coal-plant failure, Tesla’s megabattery in Southern Australia proved its potential – not just for the security of the Australian power grid, but for the future of renewable energy.

Elon Musk is a busy man. He has been announcing something new almost every week. Among many of his recent accomplishments and establishments is Tesla’s largest lithium-ion battery set up in Southern Australia. The story begins with Musk winning a $50 million bet as Tesla’s lithium-ion battery was set and built in less than 100 days. The battery was then, on December 1st 2017, officially switched on with the aim of tackling the problem of blackouts in Southern Australia (that had gone on to become a key topic of political debate) owing to the limitations of green power which provides more than 40% of the region’s energy demands.

Then, on December 14th 2017, within a matter of just a few days of being turned on, the battery was put to the test when a regional coal plant failed. The device immediately proved its worth, providing 100 megawatts to the national electricity grid in just ‘140 milliseconds’. Although it did not actually prevent a blackout since the coal-powered backup of the concerned plant had also kicked in, the speed at which the megabattery entered the fray went on to show how useful a role this technology could play for power-grid security. This is especially notable considering that had an intervention on the part of another one of South Australia’s power plants been required, namely that of South Australia’s Torrens Island Power Station (most preferred), it would have taken half an hour to energise and synchronise into the market according to State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis.

Additionally, the battery also allows for power to be collected during non-peak time slots for use when power demand exceeds what the grid itself can supply. Even from a narrow financial standpoint, the battery has been a worthy investment as the company that owns the battery, Neoen, may have earned $800,000 over just a couple of days according to recent reports by ‘Renew Economy’.

However, that is still not the end of the tale as Tesla and Neoen have already begun collaborations to develop a 20MW battery in the state of Victoria and are supposedly undergoing negotiations to build a battery in Queensland that is even bigger than the one in Southern Australia.

The collaboration mentioned above between Neoen and Tesla has just highlighted the efficiency and reliability of Tesla product. Not only is it an operationally viable solution for limitations faced by renewable energy plants (and for situations wherein non-renewable energy plants trip or fail to meet demand), but also it turns out to be financially profitable as seen by the profits earned by Neoen over a short time-frame.

This technology has a bright future and the potential to move humanity towards greater efficiency and sustainability in the energy sector.