Elon Musk is having a pretty good year.
The Tesla mogul is well on his way to saving the world from fossil fuel consumption – if the AI he creates doesn’t get us first – and his technology has just proven itself to be pretty handy.
Tesla’s giant battery has just bailed out a coal power station nearly 620 miles away. [Insert strong arm emoji here].
The world’s largest lithium ion battery, installed to alleviate South Australia’s severe energy issues, was put to the test when it supplied emergency power to one of Australia’s biggest coal units, reports Renew Economy.
It was expected to provide a small amount of wind energy, network services and emergency back-up in case of a major problem.
Yet last Thursday, when one of the biggest coal units in Australia, Loy Yang Power Station, tripped without warning at 1.59am, the Tesla tech went into overdrive, only a couple of weeks after it was activated on 1 December.
The trip caused the sudden loss of 560MW and a major slump in frequency on the network – which is bad, apparently.
However, Tesla to the rescue! Within milliseconds the big battery responded – a whole four seconds ahead of the generator contracted at that time to step in if a malfunction occurred.
The Tesla Powerpack, connected to Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm, near Jamestown, about three hours from Adelaide, responded by supplying the energy network with 7.3MW.
The Powerpack unit itself has a capacity of 100MW, so this job was a walk in the park for the big battery – a little like a body builder doing reps with a jar of pesto.
By the time the Gladstone coal generator in Queensland stepped in to do its job, Tesla’s big battery had rendered it completely redundant, according to data from AEMO gathered above by Dylan McConnell from the Climate and Energy College.
In fact, the Tesla big battery responded so quickly, it was too fast for the AEMO data to record… And all before the Gladstone generator has got out of bed and pulled its socks on.
The feat of science has stunned observers, largely because the Tesla battery wasn’t contracted to do any of the above.
The Renew Economy report mused over the causalities of such an unusual event:
One reason is because it can and so it did. The other reason is less clear, but more intriguing. It’s contracted to provide such grid services by the South Australia government.
The details of that contract are not released, but it wouldn’t surprise if that contract allowed, or even encouraged, such intervention – just to rub in the message about a cleaner, faster, smarter grid to the technology dinosaurs in the eastern states.
This is a true David and Goliath story – the big, lumbering coal power against the dainty, elegant and intelligent wind fuel…
If David was also a multi-billionaire with the world’s greatest scientific resources at the tips of his fingers, rather than a bag of rocks.
All the same, well done Elon!