Tesla beats deadline, switches on gigantic Australian battery array

Tesla switched on the world’s biggest lithium ion battery to feed Australia’s shaky power grid, meeting a promise by Elon Musk to build it in 100 days or give it free.

Musk promised to build the 100-megawatt battery within 100 days of the contracts being signed at the end of September or the company would hand it over to the South Australia state government for free.

The battery was officially launched as the Hornsdale Power Reserve in the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia on Friday by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and Romain Desrousseaux, the deputy CEO of Neoen, the renewable energy company who owns the wind farm. It is now operational.

“South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy,” state premier Jay Weatherill said at the official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, owned by private French firm Neoen.

“Tesla powerpacks, connected to Neoen’s Hornsdale windfarm, are now operational and delivering power to the National Energy Market, providing system security services to South Australia,” Weatherill said in a statement.

“The ability to dispatch into the system when needed, also opens up the opportunity for Hornsdale Power Reserve to sign competitive long term contracts with medium-sized business directly.”

The launch of the world’s biggest battery means that, for the first time, clean and affordable wind energy can be dispatched to the grid 24 hours a day, seven days a week Neoen, whether the wind is blowing or not, improving system reliability.

Highlighting industry hopes for the take-up of battery storage, Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited the site some 225 kms (141 miles) north of the state capital Adelaide in July, hailing the battery as “just the beginning”.