Today, Tesla Energy is holding a ‘milestone event’ for Tesla’s Powerpack Project in South Australia, where it is expected Tesla will provide a major update on the company’s installation of the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery.
Though the media have been given few details, there is speculation that the event may be hosted by Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself, who will be in South Australia this week to appear at the South Australian government’s international space conference.
The event will be held in Jamestown, South Australia, a small farming town about three hours north of Adelaide that will soon provide the location for Tesla’s big battery. The event is open to Jamestown locals, the media, as well as owners of Tesla electric vehicles and battery storage.
What Tesla's Powerpack Project Involves:
Tesla’s Powerpack Project will involve thousands of lithium-ion batteries being connected to the Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown, which is currently under construction. The network will have a modular design, consisting of at least 600 ‘Powerpacks’, which are fridge-like bodies each containing 16 individual battery pods.
Collectively, the system will be capable of an output of 100 megawatts of power at a time. This output will be more than three times the size of the world’s next largest battery, which has an output of 30 megawatts. The battery will be able to store 129 megawatt hours of energy, equating to 1 hour and 18 minutes of power at full capacity. The system can be charged in the same way you charge a laptop or phone battery and direct them to discharge [electricity] when you want to.
Construction of the ‘Powerpack’ is already underway, with a number of batteries already being installed near Jamestown and is expected to be operational by December 1 this year.
What the Project is Intended to Do:
Tesla’s Powerpacks will be charged using excess electricity generated by the Hornsdale windfarm, and will help to maintain the reliable operation of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure.
Essentially, the project will help to cover any electrical network failures that occur around South Australia, and will act as back-up power, particularly during heatwaves and peak hours where there is excess demand for electricity. Having back-up mechanisms in place for electricity during heatwaves is critical, particularly as climate change is exacerbating the duration, frequency and intensity of heatwaves. Blackouts associated with heatwaves can expose vulnerable people to dangerous levels of heat, particularly if they’re unable to use air conditioners or fans to stay cool.
Additionally, Tesla’s big battery will increase the stability of electricity supply from renewable sources, providing back-up energy when there is too little wind to enable wind farms to generate enough electricity to meet demand.
Tesla’s big battery will also have other important benefits for South Australians. Since the closure of Port Augusta's coal-fired power stations last year, electricity prices have skyrocketed. However, Tesla’s battery should help to drive down prices by providing competition in the electricity market, which will eventually flow-on to South Australian power consumers.
Overall, Tesla’s project will not only be a major step forward for South Australians, but also for renewable energy and storage around the world. The move may present a chance for companies to develop cheaper battery models in the future, and give the industry the chance to overcome the technical challenges and opportunities currently associated with operating batteries in a smart grid. Additionally, it will also assist South Australia in continuing to develop their renewables sector, which is something we should all be excited about.