The world’s largest lithium-ion battery, developed by technological philanthropist Elon Musk, has barely been in operation for a month, but it’s already exceeding all expectations.
With his company, Tesla, Musk unveiled a state-of-the-art back-up power system in South Australia, which is basically one giant battery, to see if it could provide sustainable energy to the region.
In the past three weeks alone the record-breaking battery has outperformed itself. The Hornsdale Power Reserve, where the battery is being kept, has responded in record time to two major energy outages already.
Just last week Tesla’s battery responded in an impressive 0.14 seconds after one of the country’s biggest plants Loy Yang facility (near Victoria), experienced a ‘sudden, unexplained drop in output’. A week before that, they came under another power outage which caused Musk’s battery to respond within four seconds – or less, beating rival power plants to the emergency.
According to local media, state officials are praising the Hornsdale battery for its reliability and ‘record’ timing. All eyes have been on Tesla since the installation of the battery as it hopes to deal with the region’s energy ‘crisis’. Electricity prices in Australia are skyrocketing, particularly in South Australia where an outage in 2016 led to 1.7 million residents losing power in a blackout.
Another varying factor in the energy crisis is due to storms and heat waves affecting the region. This has caused many residents in the area to brace for outages coming this summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is why the Hornsdale battery system has been so effective and beneficial to South Australia, it uses the same ‘energy-storage tech’ also used in Tesla’s groundbreaking electronic cars. Known for setting goals so high that he only ever occasionally meets them, the lithuim-ion battery in South Australia has been one of Elon Musk‘s prized projects.
In March he vowed, on Twitter, to create and have a battery ‘installed and working’ inside 100 days for South Australia’s ailing power grid or it would be free.
Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 10, 2017
Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at GTM Research told The Independent:
[Big batteries] definitely can be a game changer for island or island-type economies. Hawaii, for instance, has one of the highest retail rates in the U.S. [for electricity], and that’s because of the cost of shipping diesel or other fuel oils which currently are used by a lot of the existing facilities.
Around the start of July, the state had signed a deal with both Tesla and French-based energy company Neoen to make the battery and by the start of December officials in South Australia announced the Hornsdale Battery was fully functional.
Speaking to The Independent, Stephen Coughlin, vice president of energy storage platforms at AES Corporation said:
When you think about energy storage, it’s not a [power] generation resource. What it’s really doing is providing a much-needed injection of reliability and resiliency into the network overall.
This isn’t the first time Musk has used his resources to build an efficient energy supply for a region in desperate need, in October he and his company offered to build a solar grid for Puerto Rico in response to the devastation left by Hurricane Maria.
Last year he and Tesla built thousands of solar panels and batteries for the inhabitants of Ta’u island, America Samoa, which has helped them moved them away (entirely) from relying on fossil fuels.