Battery wizard of Oz: Tesla’s footprint growing in Australia

7 Jul 2017

Tesla. Image: Jag_cz/Shutterstock

Tesla’s bid to secure the electricity network in the south of Australia sees the company plan for the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery.

Elon Musk’s growing importance in the electricity industry is continuing unabated, with news that his company Tesla is going big in Australia.

Partnering with French energy company Neoen, Tesla is building a 129MWh lithium-ion battery in the south of the country.

Future Human

This battery, paired with a wind farm, will – the two companies believe – improve electricity supplies across the region.

Tesla announced the news with a nod to a 2016 storm in southern Australia that saw more than 1.5m people without electricity. It also referenced electricity blackouts this year as temperatures soared during the Australian summer.

Officials in the region sought an industry solution, with Tesla and Neoen (the latter manages a wind farm in the region) stepping into the fray.

“Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure,” said the company in a statement.

Tasked with managing the entire energy storage system component of the project, Tesla hopes the giant battery will be completed by the end of the year.

“This system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of homes that lost power during the blackout period,” said the company.

Tesla has had a busy few months as its interests in various projects emerged.

TechCrunch reported that a $2m investment in a “months-old” start-up called Redwood Materials had Tesla fingerprints all over it in May.

Based in California, the company’s executive officers include Tesla co-founder and CTO, JB Straubel, as well as the company’s head of special projects, Andrew Stevenson.

Redwood is working on “advanced technology and process development for materials recycling, remanufacturing and reuse”.

The release of its hugely anticipated Model S is slowly emerging, though it could take years for buyers to get their hands on one of the more affordable EVs on the market.

Meanwhile the company is said to be looking into developing its own music streaming platform within its vehicle range.

Tesla. Image: Jag_cz/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic