Elon Musk’s Battery Farm Is an Undeniable Success


    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: More than two years after winning an electricity bet, Elon Musk’s resulting Australian solar and wind farm is an almost total success. The facility powers rural South Australia, whose population density falls between Wyoming and Alaska, the two least dense U.S. states. In 2016, South Australia experienced a near total blackout after “an apocalyptic storm — involving 80,000 lightning strikes and at least two tornadoes,” Vox explains. In the aftermath, a Conservative politician blamed the push for renewable energy for the extent of the blackouts. For those even passingly familiar with Musk and Tesla’s online presence, the rest won’t be surprising. The head of batteries at Tesla said he was sure the company could do better, an Australian billionaire asked if he was serious, and Musk jumped in to promise his team was. The rest is history. Musk reached his goal 40 days early, and the Australian billionaire funded the project as promised. We can argue about whether or not private citizens should have to rely on a billionaire angel investor to get a steady supply of power or make the shift to renewable energy, but in this case, the bet benefited a shortchanged rural population beginning almost immediately. […] Just 1.7 million people live in South Australia, which is a nice size to consider a test market for technology like this. Rural grids tend to be left behind, because the ratio of required hardware and infrastructure is still so high per consumer — much more-so than in a big city, where the same short length of wiring could power thousands of homes. And building a facility that acts as a battery can help smooth out the natural ebbs and flows that come both from renewable energy technology and from the spread out, failure-prone nature of more rural grid sections. This smoothing has saved South Australians a ton of money, already much more than the $50 million cost that Tesla passed on to its Australian investor. The battery facility “reduced network costs by about $76 million in 2019,” Bloomberg explains, “savings [Garth] Heron, [Neoen’s head of development in Australia] said would be passed on to businesses and households in the state. The battery’s introduction also slashed the cost to regulate South Australia’s grid by 91 [percent], bringing it in line with other regions in the nation.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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