Elon Musk And Tesla Continue To Help Australia Leave Fossil Fuels Behind With Big Batteries

South Australia is the home of the first Tesla Big Battery. The company’s 2016 installation of the Big Battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve made waves and fueled skeptics who thought the region was putting its grid and residents at risk. 

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The operation developed after a massive storm damaged critical infrastructure throughout the region, and leaders wanted a more sustainable and reliable electrical infrastructure. Tesla Inc. stepped in with the world’s largest lithium-ion battery at the time to provide a more stable grid for South Australians. 

Local grid storage solutions have been the subject of heavy research and innovation recently. Startups like Qnetic. Qnetic uses flywheel technology to store and discharge electrical power. It’s a scalable solution for reserving power generated by solar panels and wind farms and making it available at night and during calm conditions with low wind power output. The startup has seen significant traction in recently. The company is currently raising on Wefunder, which means anyone can invest, and already raised over $500,000 from retail investors. 

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The location saw an expansion in 2020 and was upgraded with Tesla’s Virtual Machine Mode, a software update that recognizes the challenges operators face as wind and solar replace fossil fuel generation. There’s less mechanical inertia within the grid so the Virtual Machine Mode emulates this inertia to strengthen the grid and improve stability. The update to the Hornsdale Power Reserve allows its battery to provide inertia services to the electricity grid and generate up to 3,000 megawatt seconds of inertia. It’s a large-scale proof of concept for the viability of wind and solar to power a grid and for batteries to provide it with reliable and safe backup. 

It differs from traditional batteries by using a motor to spin a rotor, which turns electrical energy into kinetic energy at high speeds. It uses a vacuum and rotor that floats on magnets to reduce loss and keep the Qnetic battery system charged and available. To produce power, it becomes a generator by reversing the process, spinning slower to produce electricity for the grid. The company is leveraging the equity crowd to raise funds for expansion and refine its revolutionary technology. 

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In South Australia, Tesla’s efforts and commitment to wind and solar power generation make the region the world leader in terms of percentage of power that comes from these renewable sources. It frequently reaches levels where wind and solar produce more than 100% of demand with excess capacity sent off to other regions. It is set to become the first grid of its size to operate without gas-burning synchronous generators to provide backup capacity. 

South Australian customers see sharp declines in their monthly electrical bills with the combination of solar power and a Tesla Powerwall for energy storage. When virtual power plant software makes energy more efficiently shared throughout the grid, customers’ bills drop. 

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