Elon Musk’s massive Australian battery just chalked up another record

Elon Musk’s battery in South Australia made international headlines earlier this month for being the biggest of its type in the world.

And now, just weeks after being activated, the very same battery is claiming another world record for the time it took to spring into action following a power outage.

Built by Musk’s Tesla company, the lithium-ion battery has 100 megawatts of capacity and is reportedly three times larger than the next biggest battery. Paired with the Hornsdale wind farm 120 miles north of Adelaide, Australia and operated by French renewable energy provider Neoen, the battery stores excess energy created by the wind turbines and is used when the region’s power sources suffer outages.

Last week the battery bounded into action just 140 milliseconds after a power plant in the neighboring state of Victoria suffered a failure that would ordinarily have led to a lengthy power cut, the International Business Times reported. The battery fed its stored energy into the national power grid, preventing an inconvenient blackout from affecting numerous homes in nearby towns and cities.

“That’s a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market,” South Australia Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis told 5AA radio.

He said that the battery’s fast response time exceeded expectations, and it performed far better than others sources of backup power, adding that usually one of its power stations “would take half an hour to an hour to energize and synchronize into the market; the battery can do it in milliseconds.”

Musk became involved in the project to build a battery for South Australia when he heard that the local government was looking for solutions after the region was hit by a huge storm in September 2016. It was described as a once-in-every-50-years weather event and temporarily knocked out power for 1.7 million residents.

No slouch when it comes to grabbing headlines, Musk hit Twitter to make his pitch, saying that if Tesla failed to meet his own 100-day deadline to build the battery, he’d foot the $50 million bill. Tesla completed the project with about a week to spare.

The news of the battery’s record-breaking performance will be music to the ears of Musk. While Tesla is better known for its electric cars than the batteries that power them, their need for such a power source prompted the company to diversify into the field, going beyond vehicles to explore the home and commercial energy market. It’s now manufacturing batteries at its Gigafactory in Nevada, believed to be the largest facility of its kind in the world.


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