60 Minutes Australia recently uploaded an interview and special that dealt with the ongoing Australian energy crisis. As part of their reporting they interviewed Elon Musk, who got involved with the situation, when he and Tesla deployed the world’s largest battery in Southern Australia back in 2017.
The country, which sees regular blackouts caused by storms and ineffective grid management, has been subject to a lot of political debate on how to address their energy needs. Even though, as Musk puts it, “Australia could actually export power to Asia. There’s actually so much land there that you could power a significant chunk of Asia.”
Australia’s really perfect for solar power because it’s not too far north or too far south. You could have the entire country be solar power or some combination of wind, solar, geothermal, hydro…
According to the 60 Minutes report, power disconnections in Australian states are up to record highs, with many seeing over double the number of homes losing power because they can’t afford to keep the light on. One couple they spoke to, was only cooking a couple of times a week, and then eating food cold, because it is so expensive to run the microwave or other appliances.
Another couple, who installed a Powerwall to save costs, saw their bill regularly cut in half. Considering their monthly power bill was getting to over $1000, that’s a huge savings. It’s surprising to find that electricity has become priced like a luxury good in Australia, something that Elon apparently didn’t realise when interviewed.
However, it’s been years now since the South Australian Megapack was deployed, 40 days ahead of schedule. It’s no wonder that it has seen unbelievable success. According to Bloomberg, the battery pack- which can supply 30,000 homes with an hour’s worth of power, “reduced network costs by about A$116 million ($76 million) in 2019.” Additionally, it has reduced the cost of regulating their grid by 91%, presumably by replacing peak plant costs.
But that’s not all. To expound upon the 100 MW grid battery, Tesla has also been experimenting with a “Virtual Power Plant.” This system, incorporates 50,000 private homes with 5 kW rooftop solar systems and 13.5 kWh Tesla batteries, with a total of 250 MW of solar power and 650 MWh of energy storage.
When completed, this VPP system will call upon all of these residences, like a hive mind, to supply power they have collected and stored back into the grid. This system is the true future of energy, and even though it is not fully deployed yet, it represents a giant leap from the state of things when Musk was originally interviewed.