Tesla’s South Australia battery is ‘Kim Kardashian’ of energy, says minister

Tesla’s massive South Australia battery installation recently received some harsh words from LNP senator and Minister for Resources Matt Canavan, who likened the massive Powerpack system to reality TV star Kim Kardashian. According to Canavan, Tesla’s battery is not very useful at all, and that it is simply “famous for being famous.”

The Australian minister’s statements about the Tesla Powerpack installation in South Australia were spoken at the recently-held CERAWeek 2018 conference, an international gathering about the future of the energy industry, which was held in Houston, TX. During the event, Canavan optimistically talked about investments in Australia’s coal, gas, and other resource-driven industries.

As noted in a report from Renew Economy, however, the resource minister added a little extra to his talk, dismissing the success of Tesla’s big battery installation in South Australia. The Australia-based publication was able to get a transcript of Canavan’s comments about Tesla’s South Australia Powerpack installation in the CERAWeek 2018 conference. According to the resource minister, the big battery “really doesn’t deliver very much.”

“It’s the world’s biggest battery, I’m told. I think it can supply power for about five percent of the state that it’s in – South Australia, it’s a relatively small state – for about an hour.

“It’s not really a solution for the stability problems of South Australia… You’ll excuse me for a bit of rhetorical flourish – I’m a politician. I sometimes think this big battery is the Kim Kardashian of the energy world – it’s famous for being famous. It really doesn’t deliver very much.”

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The resource minister’s comparison of Tesla’s big battery to the reality TV star reveals a dismissive attitude towards the Elon Musk-led firm’s initiatives in Australia, especially since Kim Kardashian is one of the entertainment industry’s most polarizing figures. Breaking into mainstream popularity by the viral spread of a leaked home video, Kardashian is usually bashed by her critics for becoming “famous for being famous.”

Canavan’s comments have drawn a significant amount of criticism from his followers on Twitter and in the online forum community, many of whom believe that Tesla’s Powerpack system is actually helping South Australia’s energy grid. The Tesla Powerpack system, after all, has already achieved several milestones since it was powered on in November 2017.

Since coming online, the SA Powerpack system, which gets its energy from the Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown, has provided support for the region’s beleaguered grid. In December alone, the big battery installation provided backup energy to the region hundreds of times. It even supplied emergency power to one of Australia’s biggest coal-fired stations after the facility experienced an unexpected power loss on December 14.

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Tesla’s 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system dubbed as the ‘World’s largest battery’ in Jamestown, Australia

Recent findings from Australia Institute’s latest national energy emissions audit also show that Tesla’s Powerpack battery in South Australia is working to serve the peak energy demand of the region on a daily basis. The Institute further noted that emissions from the National Electricity Market (NEM) continued to decline during January, hitting their lowest levels since 2004.

As stated in a report from The Guardian, Hugh Saddler, an expert in the energy industry, recently examined the charging and discharging patterns of the Powerpack installation. According to the energy expert, the South Australia Powerpack followed a consistent pattern of charging overnight when wind power is abundant, and discharging into the energy grid during the day when market prices and demand are at their highest levels. Only 30% of the big battery’s 100MW capacity is devoted to this charge and discharge cycle, however, as the remaining capacity of the Hornsdale Power Reserve installation is set aside for the task of keeping the energy grid’s frequency at a steady 50 Hz and 240 volts.

Comprised of approximately 640 Powerpack units, the 100 MW/129MWh system currently stands as the world’s largest lithium-ion battery installation. The success of the South Australia Powerpack has been so notable, Victoria has also expressed its desire to have a similar battery system installed. A residential virtual power plant, comprised of 50,000 homes fitted with solar panels and Tesla’s Powerwall home units, is also being planned.

Unlike Australia’s resource minister Matt Canavan, State premier Jay Weatherill has expressed his full support of the country’s clean energy initiatives, stating that he is looking forward to the time when the planned 250 MW/650 MWh virtual power plan would come online.

“My government has already delivered the world’s biggest battery, and now we will deliver the world’s largest virtual power plant. We will use people’s homes as a way to generate energy for the South Australian grid, with participating households benefiting with significant savings in their energy bills. Our energy plan means that we are leading the world in renewable energy and now we are making it easier for more homes to become self-sufficient,” the state premier said.

 

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