Betting big: Tesla completes world’s largest battery ahead of schedule

Tesla’s newest feat may help mitigate one of renewable energy’s most persistent problems — how to use it when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

In March, Tesla founder Elon Musk vowed on Twitter to deliver a battery system for South Australia’s ailing power grid, and it came with a wager — if the system wasn’t ready within 100 days, it would be free.

State officials inked a deal with Tesla and French energy company Neoen in September and by Dec. 1 — ahead of schedule, even — the Hornsdale Power Reserve was up and running.

The battery system, which uses the same storage technology found in Tesla’s electric cars, is the size of an American football field and it is capable of powering up to 30,000 homes. Fed by wind turbines, the battery stores excess energy which could ease pressure during periods of high demand and better help manage South Australia’s electrical grid.


Jay Weatherill, the premier of South Australia, called the launch of the world’s largest battery “history in the making.  In a statement, Tesla said the project “shows that a sustainable, effective energy solution is possible.”

With around 50% of its energy supplied by renewables in 2016-2017, South Australia is a world leader in renewable energy, but had trouble integrating these technologies — until now.

Tony Wood, an energy director at the Grattan Institute, told the New York Times that the next several weeks, marking the beginning of Australia’s summer, will be crucial for judging the battery’s success. “It will be a very important and high-profile demonstration in the role that batteries can play,” he said.

We’ll be watching closely, too. Stay tuned to this space for more updates.