Elon Musk throws down “serious” challenge to tackle South Australia’s energy crisis


Elon Musk is putting his money where his mouth is. Never far from a headline or short of chutzpah, Musk has risen to the Twitter bait and put the issue of battery storage immediately in the center of a debate currently raging in Australia about the security of the nation's electricity supply.

In response to an online comment made by an Australian technology entrepreneur, Musk has committed deliver a 100 MWh battery array to South Australia, 100 days after a contract for the system is sized.

South Australia has experienced a period of instability in its electricity supply, as the effects of limited interstate connectivity, high temperatures and therefore air conditioning load, and the closure of older local coal generators have left the state's electricity network prone to frequency and voltage issues. After a serious storm downed interstate interconnectors earlier late last year, South Australia suffered a state-wide blackout. It recently suffered brownouts during a heatwave.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, the founder of Australian software company Atlassian, drew the response from Musk, by saying that he would arrange finance and political support for a battery array to stabilize the South Australian grid if Tesla could supply the batteries.

“Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?” Musk tweeted.

Musk said the battery array would cost $250/kWh, so, therefore, $25 million for the entire system.

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Since the exchange, Cannon-Brookes says he has been inundated from those expressing interest in investing in the battery array.

“My phone hasn't stopped buzzing. The support is flooding in, both from individuals in terms of ‘Hell yes!' and from corporates who are asking: ‘Can we buy power? Can we contribute dollars?',” Cannon-Brookes told Reuters.

Reuters also asked for a response from the Federal Government, who has been front-and-center both in efforts to find a solution to the grid issues in South Australia and also to politicize the issue.

Josh Frydenberg responded in a written statement that it “stands ready” to provide funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, to which it has slashed funding, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Tesla launched its Powerwall 2 residential battery system in Australia earlier this week. In February, Tesla inaugurated a 80 MWh battery system in California.

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