On December 2nd, 2017, a giant 129 MWh system was activated in South Australia. The system is a grid storage battery, which happens to be the largest grid storage battery in South Australia. On a daring bet, Elon Musk built and installed the Tesla battery power grid in 100 days after the contract was signed. The bet stated that he can build and install the grid in 100 days after the contract was signed or it would be free. It was done on time and proved to be worth all the talk.
The grid storage battery proved to be effective on December 14th, powering 170,000 homes after one of the country’s largest coal power plants went offline. The system is reported to have kicked into gear within 140 milliseconds, shedding 560 megawatts of electricity . To put that in perspective, 150 milliseconds = 0.15 seconds. The response was so amazingly fast that utility customers reportedly were mostly unaware that they had even lost power. According to the State energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis, with their usual emergency generators it would have taken 10 – 15 minutes to get them started and operating . The Tesla batteries effectively saved the operators about 14 minutes that they would have used to start up backup generators to find and fix the cause of the power outage.
Unfortunately as of now, the battery system is not meant to replace normal power grids because they can only run for a few hours at most depending on the wattage. The grid set up in South Australia can power up to 30,000 homes for 1 hour. It’s great for backing up existing power grids and there is work and research being done towards making it a sustainable grid on its own. They can back up and store power from various sources – wind turbines, coal, electricity dams, etc. Tesla makes sure to use electrons to their full potential in energy storage. Experts have predicted that as battery prices drop, there will be more use for the grid storage and it’ll become more common.
A bright future ahead for battery storage facilities and we’re here for it.