Elon Musk has just set down a challenge – the sort that only Musk can muster. The SpaceX emperor and Tesla overlord has been keeping an eye on the power blackouts that keep hitting South Australia, and he’s decided to step in and lend a hand.
Musk is now claiming that he can solve the energy crisis the region is currently facing in one of two ways – either he’ll give them a 100-megawatt battery storage system in 100 days at a cost, or, if it takes Tesla longer to make one, he’ll give it to them for free.
The blackouts – all happening in quick succession over the last couple of months – were caused by higher-than-expected demand, which overloaded some major thermal energy generators at a time when wind power generation was surprisingly low. A 100-megawatt battery will certainly help, although regional electricity providers claim that they need something around three times the capacity.
The promise was made during a series of tweets between Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-founder of Atlassian, a Silicon Valley enterprise software company. The latter was impressed by the offer, who asked for Musk to message him the approximate costs for a 100-megawatt battery, cheekily adding “mates rates!”
In response to Musk’s proposal, South Australia’s Senator Sarah Hanson-Young got in touch with the rocket man to open discussions on the project. It won’t be up to the federal government to approve the plan or not, though – the electricity generation in the region is privatized, so Musk’s proposal is in the hands of individual companies.
Although other companies have been involved in lengthy discussions with the region in order to solve its energy crisis, the government seem keen to hear Musk out even at the eleventh hour.
“South Australia has over 1700 MW of wind installed and 700 MW of solar,” South Australia’s Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis told ABC News. “Battery storage is something the South Australian Government would welcome and support.”
Musk has a good reason to be confident with his 100-day time limit. Just in January, the stellar entrepreneur managed to get his company to install a massive 80-megawatt battery farm in California in just 90 days.
Watch this space!