Tesla’s 100 MW Battery Propped Up Australia’s Loy Yang A 3 Coal Power Plant

After winning a $50 million bet over its construction, Tesla’s Powerpack battery system in South Australia has been bailing out over-stressed coal plants with renewable energy.

Riding high after a $50 million bet by Elon Musk that Tesla would be able to install the world’s largest battery system in South Australia in under 100 days, the massive Powerpack is now proving its worth.

The Loy Yang A 3 coal power plant in Victoria is one of the biggest power plants in Australia. On two different occasions, Loy Yang’s power grid experienced an outage, and both times, Tesla’s Powerpack battery was able to stabilize it within milliseconds, an especially impressive feat given that the coal plant is over 620 miles away.

Musk’s enormous bet stems from a Twitter exchange in March, after Lyndon Rive, Tesla’s Vice President for energy products, bragged that an energy grid-stabilizing Powerpack could be installed in South Australia in under 100 days from signing the installation contract.

Musk noted his company had completed a similar 80MW battery in California in only 90 days, and that Tesla wouldn’t charge the South Australian government if it failed to meet the deadline. Tesla successfully met the goal and was able to claim its installation fee; however, Tesla didn’t actually sign the contract until September 29th when installation on the Powerpack was already halfway completed.

Commissioned to help further wean South Australia off of its use of fossil fuels, the Powerpack is intended to cover deficiencies in the grid and emergency outages during the summer, when the wind is at its strongest and blackouts are common.

As the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, the Powerpack receives its electricity from the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, and the Australian government has appropriately christened the battery the Hornsdale Power Reserve. The transition to renewables is already well underway in South Australia, as the state closed its last coal plant in May of 2016, and wind and solar currently generate 46% of the electricity consumed.

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