An innovative trial project by Western Power and Synergy, on behalf of the Western Australian Government and customers on the Western Power network, will utilise a 105kW (420kWh) Tesla battery.
The project will deliver ways for local economies to share their energy storage facilities and allow the technology to catch up with renewable energies, which need to store the power that they generate when not in use.
With the spotlight currently shining on alternative options to fossil fuels in the wake of increased interest in climate change discussions around the world, Australia is in place to capitalize on its bounty of natural resources.
In particular, much of the land in Western Australia is well-suited to generating lots through wind and solar, among others, but being able to properly harness and store these resources has been a problem until now.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk grabbed headlines a while back for saying that his company’s battery storage facilities would be able to offer what Australia needs, and Tesla has since set to work on making this possible.
The emerging publicity no doubt helped further Tesla’s cause, and it has now allocated 52 shares of its 420KWh batteries. In the city of Mandurah, Perth, Tesla was able to garner the concrete interest that it needed in just two weeks.
Western Australian officials have confirmed that the project will jointly coordinate through energy company Synergy and Western Power, which is state-owned.
They said that this will enable better management of the power grid, providing power at peak demand times when needed and not having to ship in power from elsewhere when generation does not meet demand.
Part of the excitement behind the deal and where it could lead Australia, particularly in regions further away from big cities, is that there is no upfront cost to pay with this partnership, and residents can still benefit from better energy availability.
Energy prices have been notably high in locations such as Western Australia, which somewhat explains the level of interest in the project. There have been plenty of community energy programs launched in recent years, but none has been able to tap into shared energy distribution until now.
Ben Wyatt, Energy Minister for Western Australia, said that the country should encourage this type of forward-thinking, calling it ‘another example of smarter investment…that has the potential to benefit all customers with an existing grid connection.’
Officials have confirmed Powerbank, Tesla’s battery, to be the first that can deal with commercial use in areas of large populace in Australia.
The batteries that Tesla installed last year cut grid costs massively, bringing them down by 90%. Western Australia officials will certainly be hoping for more of the same, and Wyatt said that ‘investing in battery storage across the grid is a more cost-efficient way of managing the growth in residential solar’ and confirmed that he feels that this is preferable to ‘traditional infrastructure spends like substation or transformer upgrades.’
Wyatt also said that this project is ‘a cheaper and far better community solution to hundreds or thousands of behind-the-meter individual household batteries.’ With interest and investment only set to carry on pouring in, Western Australia will carry on being a pilot area.