Tesla's 650 MWH Pow­er­wall in Aus­tralia

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Tesla will soon be­gin con­struc­tion on what is about to be the big­gest vir­tual power plant in the world.

Just an­nounced by South Aus­tralia Premier Jay Weather­ill, the sys­tem will use 50,000 homes in the state as its base. Each of those homes will be set up with 5kw solar ar­rays to gen­er­ate en­ergy plus a 13.5 kwh Tesla Pow­er­wall 2 bat­tery sys­tem to store the ex­cess power gen­er­ated by the ar­rays.

That amounts to ap­prox­i­mately 650 MWH of en­ergy stor­age ca­pac­ity ar­ranged in the equiv­a­lent of a vast de­cen­tral­ized en­ergy stor­age sys­tem. Oth­ers call it a vir­tual power plant.

Sim­i­lar to the way in which Tesla’s Pow­er­pack sys­tem works, these bat­ter­ies will charge when the en­ergy de­mand and elec­tric­ity rates are low. They will then be avail­able to dis­charge power for sale to oth­ers when the de­mand is high and prices are up.

That makes for a strong pay­back jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the sys­tem. In Tesla’s pre­vi­ous “big­gest in the world” 100 MW/129 MWH Pow­er­pack pro­ject in South Aus­tralia, the power bank earned ap­prox­i­mately $1 mil­lion AUD (about US$800,000) in only a few days. That sys­tem was built by Tesla and op­er­ated by Neoen as part of its nearby wind farm. It was built with a plan to have about 30 MW/90 MWH of ca­pac­ity for whole­sale en­ergy re­sale, with the gov­ern­ment of South Aus­tralia hav­ing ac­cess to the rest for grid sta­bi­liza­tion.

Com­ment­ing on the cur­rent sys­tem, Tesla stated: “When the South Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment in­vited sub­mis­sions for in­no­va­tion in re­new­ables and stor­age, Tesla’s pro­posal to cre­ate a vir­tual power plant with 250 megawatts of solar en­ergy and 650 megawatt hours of bat­tery stor­age was suc­cess­ful. A vir­tual power plant uti­lizes Tesla Pow­er­wall bat­ter­ies to store en­ergy col­lec­tively from thou­sands of homes with solar pan­els. At key mo­ments, the vir­tual power plant could pro­vide as much ca­pac­ity as a large gas tur­bine or coal power plant.”

The pro­ject has been launched with the help of a $2 mil­lion grant and a $30 mil­lion loan from the Re­new­able Tech­nol­ogy Fund. Loans and any other costs will be paid for through power sales.

The first in­stal­la­tions of the pro­ject are planned for 1,100 lower-in­come Hous­ing Trust prop­er­ties in the state. The goal is to com­plete all the in­stal­la­tions by 2022.

It is un­for­tu­nate that Tesla has to go to Aus­tralia to build these types of large-scale distributed solar power sys­tems and is not build­ing them in the United States, where there is a dire need for distributed solar en­ergy sys­tems and green en­ergy stor­age.

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