Battery ‘to unlock more investment’

The world’s largest lithium ion battery, to be built in South Australia in a joint project by US billionaire Elon Musk’s company Tesla, will unlock more investment in renewable energy in the state, Premier Jay Weatherill says.

South Australia has derived an average of 53 per cent of its power from sun and wind after coal-fired power plants closed at Port Augusta in the state’s north and Hazelwood in Victoria.

As the Weatherill government spruiked its “world-first” battery in Adelaide’s The Sunday Mail newspaper, Mr Weatherill told journalists to expect to see “lots of pictures of me and Elon Musk” as he rolls out a $550 million energy plan to combat blackouts this summer.

Touring Hornsdale Wind Farm at Jamestown, 215km north of Adelaide where the 100-megawatt battery is to be built with French firm Neoen, Mr Weatherill yesterday said the project would become a tourist attraction and create investment in wind and farm projects. “What batteries do is provide the option of new solar projects, new wind farms, because we can now store the excess ­energy in a way which doesn’t create disturbances and instabilities for our networks,” he said.

The Telsa-Neoen project, to cost about $50m, will include batteries connected to Neoen’s wind farm to store excess wind power and feed it back into the grid. About 70 per cent of stored energy will be for SA and 30 per cent for sale on the market.

Despite Mr Musk’s assurance that the battery would be built in 100 days of contracts being signed, the state would still need to ship in a fleet of temporary diesel generators to prevent blackouts, at a cost of $100m.

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