Tesla to build titanic battery facility – by Dennis Normile (Science Magazine – July 7, 2017)


Tesla announced today that it will build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system to store electricity in Australia. The 100-megawatt installation—more than three times as powerful as the biggest existing battery system—will be paired with the Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, operated by the French renewable energy company Neoen, in a deal with the state of South Australia. The Tesla battery should smooth out the variability inherent in sustainable power generation schemes.

“Cost-effective storage of electrical energy is the only problem holding us back from getting all of our power from wind and solar,” says Ian Lowe, an energy policy specialist at Griffith University in Nathan, Australia, near Brisbane.

The Tesla system, he says, will “demonstrate the feasibility of large-scale storage.” It might also win over skeptics who doubt that renewables can match the dependability of conventional fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, says Geoffrey James, a renewable energy engineer at University of Technology Sydney.

Tesla may be known best for its pioneering electric cars, but it has also been extending the lithium-ion battery technology used in its cars to the storage of renewably generated electricity, with products aimed at both home and industrial applications. The agreement with South Australia is by far its biggest sale yet. (Tesla did not reveal the price tag).

The battery installation will be a key feature of the state’s aggressive move toward reliably generating half of its electricity from renewables by 2025. That drive suffered an image problem last September and again in February, when power blackouts hobbled the state.

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