Telsa Industries builds the world largest battery - on a bet

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On December 1, the premier of South Australia and executives from Telsa unveiled the largest lithium ion battery in the world. The scale of the project was staggering. It is an 100 megawatt battery and it cost 40 million dollars. The battery is connected to a wind turbine farm and it has the potential to power 30,000 homes for an hour. Despite it size the technology is fundamentally no different the battery in your phone or your laptop. The battery uses components that are commercial available from Telsa. Due to its simply the project was completed in only 60 days. Telsa also plans to use this technology in their plans to restore the Puerto Rico power grid.


The official name of this battery is the Hornsdale power reservoir, and it almost didn’t happen. The project is all a response to a complex political situation in Australia. On the national level, Prime Minister in Australia is a big support of coal and enacting policies to support the coal industry in Australia. On the local level, the premiers having been going against this policy. This conflict came a boil early this year when a major storm knocked out power in South Australia. Supporter of fossil fuel blamed renewables, while supporters of renewables blamed weakness with the infrastructure of the area. Elon Musk inserted himself in the situation, can claimed that he could upgrade the grid in South Australia with batteries in 100 days or it would be free. The project was completed in 60 days.


While Elon Musk’s showmanship can grow tiresome, this represents a huge win for Telsa and for entire renewable industry. The technology to change our reliance on fossil fuels exists but in my cases, it has not been implemented. Part of that is because some technology is not mature enough for large scale use, but on the other hand consumers are unaware that there is innovative technology that can cover all their needs. This project shows the maturity of battery technology and it a crucial step to showing the viability of renewables.


While battery store of energy is not widely used in Canada there is potential for it to be deployed. Residents of Ontario face some of the highest electricity prices in Ontario. Controversial, during times of peak production Ontario will sell off excess energy to surrounding provinces and states. Building giant batteries like the Australia reservoir in Ontario would allow us to store that energy for later use. This should increase the supply of electricity and lower utility bill. On the other hand, these types of projects can be costly, as clearly seen by the 50 million dollar price tag. Policy makers need to be careful on how these project are deployed to cover existing needs.



Matthew Griffin