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Elon Musk Wins his Bet, but Australia Hasn't Won Yet!

By Carl Ford November 28, 2017

When Elon Musk got called out on a Tesla boast that he could bring a battery storage system that could stop the power outage that occurred in South Australia, he was challenged by Mike Cannon-Brooks to show he was serious. Elon Musk responded by saying he would bring a 100 MW battery on–line in 100 days or it would be free.

While he delivered on the battery, it now has to get regulatory approval. Candidly Elon Musk may find himself mixed up in a political street fight he has no interest in.

Well, a partial interest because Australia is one of the largest miners of Lithium (an essential mineral for Tesla batteries), so his demonstration helps bring the mining and exporting of lithium to the forefront of consumer awareness.

Australians have seen the price of electricity skyrocket and it has been a political football where Labor and Conservatives positions are more about price relief than improvement. The politicians, who now will have to make up their mind to embrace or dismiss the value of the system, openly mocked Elon Musk.

It’s not clear that the battery system will stop another blackout. Electrical Grids have a cascading model of protection, where as systems experience surges or drains, the grid turns off vast sections. However, a resource like a 100MW battery can minimize the system failure and may stabilize the grid from a cascade.

The 100 MW battery is connected to a wind farm and the storage capacity translates into supplying 30,000 homes for more than an hour. This is substantial because this battery is 3x larger than present systems and represents a possible opportunity to support microgrids and change the nature of the business model for his Solar City offerings. Right now, the resale of power to the power companies is not particularly lucrative, but a 100 MW battery could change the game.

Specifically with the way the power industry has split itself into companies that produce power and companies that transmit power, Elon Musk could use his system combined with Solar City, while some great internal analytics could optimize the value to his Solar City customers by storing the equivalent energy they produce for peak usage or private placement of the power.

Once the compliance tests are completed, Tesla will be celebrating, but it’s unclear if the rates will improve. Once proven, however, the solution can be replicated and that will not only have an impact on Australia but the world.




Edited by Ken Briodagh

Partner, Crossfire Media

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