Tesla wins contract for world's largest battery system

By Yoke Wong
Published: Friday, 07 July 2017

A huge lithium battery installation in South Australia will store and distribute wind farm electricity.

Tesla will build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery instillation in South Australia, to solve an electricity grid crisis there.

The massive battery, three times the size of the second-largest, will be paid for by the State Government, which this week allowed contractors to bid for the construction of a 100MW energy storage solution, to ensure continuous energy supply.

South Australia’s energy infrastructure has been struggling with repeated blackouts, in the wake of a storm which damaged infrastructure in the region last year.

Tesla won the contract, with a 100MW battery storage system, to be paired with Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm.

On Friday the state’s premier, Jay Weatherill, confirmed the deal, which forms a key part of the government’s $550m energy plan.

Earlier in the bidding process, Tesla boss Elon Musk pledged that he could deliver the battery within 100 days of signing the contract or it would be delivered free.

In June 2017 Tesla won contracts to deploy storage batteries across New South Wales. This first instillation will be a 250k 500KWh station in Sidney.

"Upon completion by December 2017, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of homes that lost power during the blackout period," Tesla said.

The storage system will be charged with energy from the wind farm, which it can then add to the grid during peak hours. The system will have capacity of 129MWh, about 0.4% of annual battery production at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada.

Tesla declined to comment on the potential volumes of lithium, cobalt, and graphite needed for this project.

Drive to new battery projects

This latest Australia deal comes as the drive to replace petrol and diesel engines with battery-powered vehicles increases, with support from both governments and automakers.  

On 6 July, the French government pledged to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel engines by 2040.

Earlier this week, car manufacturer Volvo said all of its new car models would be at least partly electric from 2019.

Norway and the Netherlands plan to stop the sale of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2025, while Germany and India have proposed similar measures by 2030.

And in China, vice-premier Ma Kai recently emphasised the Chinese government’s commitment to electric vehicles.  

"Electric vehicle sales in China accounts for half of global demand, but the Chinese government will continue to seek breakthrough in battery technology," the Chinese government agency MIIT said.

"Beijing is funding research and development efforts to achieve the target of a battery system that could deliver 260 watts/kg by 2020.

"The government will also accelerate developments in advance charging technology and strengthen the construction of charging points," the ministry said. 

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