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Local Energy Companies Compete Against Elon Musk To Solve South Australia’s Energy Crisis

19 March 2017, 11:09 am EDT By Luan Chan Tech Times
Elon Musk’ bet that Tesla can solve Australia’s energy crisis in 100 days gains competition from local companies that want a shot at saving their nation.  ( Tesla )

Tech Times reported on March 11 that Tesla co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk backed up Lyndon Rive's bold claim at the Powerwall 2 launch at Newport, near Melbourne, that the company can solve South Australia's energy storage problems in 100 days with its new battery.

Rive, Tesla's Vice President for Energy Products, cited the company's experience in building a power plant in South California in 90 days in 2016. Musk, a staunch advocate of solar energy confidently raised the stakes by offering to get an operational power plant up and running in 100 days or the fees would be waived, causing company executives and politicians to seriously look into Tesla's proclamation.

The Government's Challenge

South Australia's State government wants private companies to step up and be part of its grand plan to solve the energy crisis. The State government's plan involves the government building, operating, and owning a gas-fired power plant to provide stability and emergency energy while the private sector would build Australia's largest battery with a 100MW output by Summer, which happens to fall in December. According to SA Premiere Jay Weatherill, the government has set aside $115.36 million (A$150 million) from its renewable technology fund to finance the private sector portion of its grand plan

Elon Musk's Bet

If you've forgotten Musk's challenge already, read his tweet below.

He also revealed that Tesla's fixed and open pricing pegs a 100MWh+ system at $250 per kWh, which means that the government would need to pay a minimum of $25 million since there are still the labor and taxes that will be added on top of the system's price.

The Competition

Since Australia has its own clean energy companies and they all saw what Musk had to offer, local companies are now urging the government to give them a shot at solving South Australia's energy crisis. Two of the more notable companies keen on stepping up to Tesla's challenge are Zen Energy and Carnegie Clean Energy.

Zen Energy is, perhaps, a really close competition to Tesla's bet because the company has actually been developing plans to build and operate a 100MW battery storage in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

"The Government says it wants it in place by next summer and we're ready to put it in place by next summer [...] We can install our battery in less than three months, but that's not all you have to do [...] That means the Government process will have to be a short one or there just won't be time." Zen Energy Chairman Ross Garnaut said.

West Australia-based Carnegie Clean Energy also says it is prepared to meet the challenge, especially since getting the contract would create hundreds of jobs in a time of economic hardship in their region. It also claimed that the company's plan would not only solve most of South Australia's energy crisis but also benefit the entire nation.

"We've got a proven capability and we can certainly deliver what the SA Government and the SA people need to secure their energy supply [...] so what we'll be talking about is about 40 of these systems [that I'm standing in front of now] being deployed into SA," Michael Ottaviano, Carnegie's CEO, said in an interview.

The only question now is which clean energy company the government will choose to help the region. Tesla still may have the upper hand, though, since Musk had already discussed his plans with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull.

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