Elon Musk’s brave bet to fix Australia’s energy crisis — or hand the money back — landed the tech entrepreneur an hour-long phone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and quickly threw him into a debate over whether battery technology is the solution for a nation still wedded to coal for much of its power.
Sunday’s call followed a Twitter conversation last week between Musk and Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes in which Musk promised to install and get working a Tesla Inc. battery storage system designed to prevent blackouts in South Australia, the Australian mainland state most reliant on renewable energy. The promise injected Musk into the middle of a messy political spat in Australia over energy policy.
Musk’s 100-day battery promise found a receptive ear in Turnbull who made innovation a flagship policy ahead of an election last year and prior to politics made a fortune in the late 1990s dotcom boom. Energy storage will “be a priority this year,” Turnbull tweeted after the call. Musk replied on Twitter that renewables and storage were huge disrupters to traditional electricity supply while Cannon-Brookes said in an emailed statement that the “space age” technology could be a speedy solution for South Australia.
AGL Energy Ltd. lent its support to the project Monday saying it had offered Tesla a battery storage site in South Australia.
“It sounds like a bit of a crazy idea but sometimes crazy ideas can have a big impact,” said Tony Wood, director of energy at the Melbourne-based Grattan Institute.
A series of blackouts in South Australia have raised fears of more widespread outages across the nation’s electricity market and raised questions as to why one of the world’s largest producers of coal and gas is struggling to keep the lights on in a mainland state.
source : renewableenergyworld magazine