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Tesla, America's leader in renewable energy, powered up the world's largest lithium-ion battery today in time to power Australia's unstable power grid for the first official day of summer, fulfilling Elon Musk's promise to build it in 100 days or give it free.
"South Australia now leads the world in renewable energy," said Prime Minister Jay Weatherill during the official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, owned by private French firm Neoen.
Tesla won a bid in July to build the 129 megawatt-hour battery for South Australia, which has expanded to wind power much faster than the rest of the country, but has suffered a series of blackouts in the past 18 months.
The worst moment was caused by a large storm that destroyed a large number of transmission towers.
In a politically charged debate, opponents of the state's renewable energy push have argued that the battery is a "Hollywood fix" in a country that still relies on fossil fuels, primarily coal, for two-thirds of its electricity.
Supporters, however, say it will help stabilize the grid in a state that now gets more than 40 percent of its electricity from wind power, but needs help when the wind dies down.
"Storage can respond in a fraction of a second," said Praveen Kathpal, vice president of AES Energy, a losing bidder to build the battery.
"You can address those stability issues very quickly without resorting to the use of large power plants," added Mr. Kathpal.
Highlighting the industry's hopes for battery storage, Tesla CEO Elon Musk visited the site some 225kms north of Adelaide, the state capital in July, calling the battery "just the beginning."
The state has yet to reveal how much it is paying Tesla.
Mr. Weatherill came under fire last year after the entire state went black after a major storm, and he raced to shore up the state's grid with a $ 510 million plan, which included ordering the giant battery and installing fuel turbines. diesel.
Kathpal, who is also president of the US Energy Storage Association, said South Australia's commitment to turn to energy storage was an important step for the rest of the industry.
"We think that's what is really going to accelerate the absorption of energy storage in Australia," he said.
Source (in English)