Billionaires Battle for Bigger Battery in Australia
By: Kip Olkowski
South Australia has historically relied on coal plants to provide cheap and abundant electricity. In more recent years, Australia has phased out coal plants for natural gas to meet demand during peak hours when solar and wind generation are low. The fluctuations of available power on the grid have led to rolling blackouts throughout South Australia due to an antiquated infrastructure. To make the situation worse, natural gas prices have been on the rise. These factors have led South Australia to invest in the 100 MW tesla battery facility in Jamestown to reduce congestion and stabilize the grid while using solar panels to generate electricity. Elon Musk agreed to the deal, true to form, by taking to twitter.
Earlier this week another battery was announced in Port Augusta by Sanjeev Gupta, the recent owner of Whyalla steelworks and a controlling stake in a renewable energy firm Zen Energy in South Australia. This new facility has created 100 construction jobs and will generate 120 MW. These batteries, and more to come, are meant to reduce the areas dependence on natural gas to reduce the cost for consumers.
Although South Australia's dependence on natural gas has created this rather unique scenario, it is not hard to imagine coal becoming cost prohibitive and the rest of the world needing to adopt large scale batteries.