Elon Musk fulfills promise to build SA's lithium-ion battery in 100 days

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Elon Musk
Tesla Chief Executive, Elon Musk enters the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

The construction of the largest lithium-ion battery in the world was completed in less than 100 days. This means Tesla founder Elon Musk has won a Twitter bet and will get paid for his project in South Australia.

In March, Musk made a bet on Twitter with Atlassian's Mike Cannon-Brookes that he would build the battery within 100 days or it would be free. The former said that if the deadline was not met, it would cost him "probably $50 million or more.”

But Musk made it. State premier Jay Weatherill has declared that the battery is now complete.

The 100-megawatt project is set to start tests ahead of a December 1 deadline. Weatherill announced on Thursday that regulatory testing at the site would begin within days. The testing would guarantee it is optimised and meets energy market regulatory requirements.

Weatherill said the battery delivers the clearest message that SA will be a leader in renewable energy with battery storage. "An enormous amount of work has gone into delivering this project in such a short time, and I look forward to visiting Jamestown next week to personally thank those who have worked on this project,” he added, according to Business Insider.

The goal of the battery pack is to enable SA to be more self-sufficient and provide backup power and affordable energy to households and businesses during the summer months. Tesla's Powerpack, when fully charged, is expected to hold enough power for 8,000 homes for 24 hours. It can sustain over 30,000 houses for an hour during a blackout.

The Tesla plant is expected to be called upon during periods of "load shedding.” That’s when excess demand would otherwise result in blackouts. It is part of a $550 million plan by the state to help secure its power supply following a string of blackouts over the last 18 months. As part of the state’s efforts to help ease energy concerns, a 250MW gas-fired generator is expected to go online next summer.

Information on how much Musk will be getting for the battery was not immediately available. Musk also supplied battery power to assist Puerto Rico’s electrical grid after the hurricane earlier this year.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has earlier thanked Musk on Twitter for a great in-depth discussion about energy storage and its role in delivering affordable and reliable electricity. Musk replied, saying it was very exciting to discuss the future of electricity.

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