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Elon’ll Fix It!

March 12, 2017

By Paul Homewood


h/t Patsy Lacey




Ever the showman, Elon Musk has promised to fix South Australia’s power problems!

From Yahoo:


Elon Musk is not shy of a challenge. The billionaire entrepreneur behind Tesla has promised that he can install enough battery capacity in South Australia’s power grid to fix the state’s energy capacity problems within 100 days, and if he fails, will do the whole thing for free.

Musk made the promise after Tesla’s vice president for energy products Lyndon Rive told the Australian Financial Review that a battery storage grid that can store between 100 and 300 megawatt hours of energy, enough to provide the extra capacity needed to prevent blackouts in the region, could be installed 100 days after a contract was signed.

The boast about extra capacity comes after increased battery production at Tesla’s gigafactory in Nevada, but Musk showed he wasn’t kidding by saying that if he didn’t deliver, he’d do the whole thing for free. When Mike Cannon-Brookes, the billionaire founder of tech company Atlassian, asked if Rive was serious, Musk replied on Twitter with the promise.


So what is this miracle Mr Musk has offered? In fact, there is no guarantee he will solve the problems at all. All he has promised is to install the batteries within 100 days.


Mike Cannon-Brookes @mcannonbrookes

Lyndon & @elonmusk – how serious are you about this bet? If I can make the $ happen (& politics), can you guarantee the 100MW in 100 days? …


Elon Musk


@mcannonbrookes Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?

2:50 AM – 10 Mar 2017


And the cost?


Musk may well have to come through on his offer. Cannon-Brookes said he would take a week to try and raise the funds and political support for the project. At an estimate cost of some A$200 million (£125m), its an expensive bet for Musk to take.


In other words, £125m for 100 MWh of storage.


Let’s put these numbers into some sort of perspective.

Wind power provided 13 TWh in the UK during Q1 last year. This equates to 142,857 MWh/day.

So for £125m, we could have enough battery storage to replace this wind power for a whole minute, should the wind stop.





I have corrected my comment about 142,857MWh – it now reads “per day” (originally omitted in error)

  1. Lance Wallace permalink
    March 12, 2017 5:47 pm

    How does 13 Twh “equate to” 142,857 Mwh?

    • March 13, 2017 10:32 am

      Sorry, Lance

      I missed out the “per day”!!

      So it’s 142857 MWh/day (now fixed)

  2. Broadlands permalink
    March 12, 2017 6:19 pm

    Will all of these batteries be made with “alternative” energy from materials mined using alternative energy? And delivered with alternative energy?

    • Sheri permalink
      March 12, 2017 6:49 pm


    • mwhite permalink
      March 13, 2017 7:17 pm

      And how long before they need to be replaced???

  3. AlecM permalink
    March 12, 2017 6:19 pm

    The Tesla Wall costs £5,400/one off payment. However, Musk is a businessman and has financed a company, SolarCity, which offers a 9 year lease at £4,280/annum.

    This guarantees a minimum down time by replacing duff cells when needed. Therefore his willingness to finance battery based uptime will have an incredibly high cost.

  4. Sheri permalink
    March 12, 2017 6:51 pm

    Better than “installed and working or it’s free” would be a guarantee of twice the money back if South Australia ends up in the dark again when the turbines go down.

  5. March 12, 2017 6:53 pm

    According to the late Prof Sir David MacKay, for 33GW installed wind capacity, the UK would need 1200GWh to cope with a 5 day lull. So 1,200,000MWh of battery storage would be a snip at £1.5trillion.

    Dinorwig stores 9.1GWh, which is only 91 times the 100MWh to be provided to SA by Musk. A very small pumped storage scheme may be somewhat cheaper than batteries.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 12, 2017 8:58 pm

      Phillip Bratby:
      Hungry SNOUTERS agree. Already a scheme has been kited about building a pumped water scheme in the desert of South Australia. What could go wrong with such an idea in the driest area of the driest State in the driest continent?
      Perhaps the Hartnett scheme will be resurrected. This from 1945 when he proposed a channel be cut from Spencer Gulf to Lake Torrens and hence draining into Lake Eyre. All are salt lakes. usually dry, and Lake Eyre is up to 15metres below sea level (but averages more like 6 metres).
      Hartnett wanted to use up the thousands of tonnes of left over explosives from the war and counted on the evaporation to increase the flow of the inland rivers in NSW into the Murray river, which would benefit SA.

  6. Joe Public permalink
    March 12, 2017 6:59 pm

    Musk quoted a price of $250/kWh for 100MWh systems. i.e. $25m for 100 MWh of storage. (Presumably US$)

    It’s main benefit would be *if* (& it is an *if*) the batteries prevented a fatal grid destabilisation.

    As SA’s demand frequently exceeds 3,000MW, if they failed to prevent a fatal destabilisation, Musk’s $25m ‘solution’ would keep the lights on for …. 2 minutes.

  7. HotScot permalink
    March 12, 2017 7:17 pm

    Another ‘money no object’ scheme, because the taxpayer has bottomless pockets.

  8. Athelstan permalink
    March 12, 2017 8:35 pm

    Paul said:

    ” should the wind stop.”

    There is a place where hot air escapes aplenty, “BATTERY MAN”!!!! – he’s so full of it.

  9. March 12, 2017 8:45 pm

    When the figures Musk provides are analysed his storage devices are about as much use in practical situations as his supercars that if you are lucky will get you all the way to the end of your driveway without needing a battery charge.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 12, 2017 11:56 pm

      His company is installing (and running) a PV solar and Powerwall storage system in sunny Hawaii to provide electricity for ONLY £120 per MWh. How could any technically and arithmetically ignorant politician not love it?

  10. Bartemis permalink
    March 12, 2017 9:05 pm

    “Wind power provided 13 TWh in the UK during Q1 last year. This equates to 142,857 MWh.”

    Two things made this confusing to me. Would have helped first to say, “This equates to 142,857 MWh/day”.

    Second, UK? This is South Australia, which is sparsely populated. Its consumption could be much less. Let’s see here… Annual consumption in South Australia is on the order of 13 TWh. So, you appear to be off by a factor of 4. It appears 100 MWh could power them for 4 whole minutes, not just a measly 1 minute. So, take that, you stinkin’ denier of all that is holy 🙂

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 13, 2017 3:44 am

      SA normally uses 1600-1800 MW, but this peaks around 3000 Mw on hot days when the turbines aren’t working (they shut down at 40℃), solar panels deliver less because they’re hot and the main interconnector to Vic. is also heat affected. So 2 minutes only.
      Of course the peak used to be 10% higher but what with industry shutting down or moving interstate demand is dropping. In the next year that rate will increase, and the higher electricity bills may force others to use less (disconnection etc.) so it is possible that 4 minutes on a hot day may yet turn out to be an accurate estimate.

      On a random though can you estimate, if they were connected, how many incompetent, bungling, greedy politicians 100MW would eliminate?

    • March 13, 2017 10:39 am

      Yes, I omitted the “per day”!! (see earlier comments)

      I have now fixed.

      The UK comparison with SA is a good one. UK generation is about 340TWH pa, so 26 times as much. If we adopted Tesla batteries here in the UK, the £125m cost could rise to £3bn.

      • mikewaite permalink
        March 13, 2017 4:23 pm

        Paul , there was an item on BBC radio 4 at about 12.30 today talking about a scheme where volunteers test out £5000 batteries to save money on electricity , using local council money I think. The BBC presenter asked for the savings and payback time and was told by the battery company rep that the savings would be £100/year or £200 if combined with solar panels .
        The BBC journalist , to give him due credit, pointed out that would mean a payback time of at least 25 years.
        At this point the rep started waffling about future energy costs making the saving much more worthwhile in the future . No mention that the batteries would fail and have to be replaced about 3 times in that 25 year period of course.
        As one gushing recipient of this experiment put it – ” its the future isn’t it ” or words to that effect .
        I can only assume that Whitehall has sacked each and every accountant that it once employed and that the BBC has a standing policy not to hire anyone with a pass grade in GCSE Maths.

      • Bartemis permalink
        March 14, 2017 7:31 pm

        mikewaite – Yes! They always go on as if it’s a one time expense, and then free energy for perpetuity.

  11. March 12, 2017 9:05 pm

    South Australia may just be a rare place where some sort of storage would work, because the wind power from the hills near Adelaide is very reliable at night, and just as reliable to fade to almost nothing in the afternoon on at least one day of a heatwave. This may be due to the phenomenon known locally as gully winds:

    But, it won’t solve the main problem, which is that the wind power peaks have killed the concept of baseload power, cheered on by the establishment, such as the Chief Scientist, so the proper power stations have either closed, or soon will, partly due also to old age, and difficulty in getting gas.

    Musk will do more harm than good, the greenie mind set will clutch at any straws to continue “The Transition”.

  12. March 12, 2017 9:52 pm

    Australia has 300 sunny days a year and is perhaps the only place in the Anglo-sphere where Solar Power stations are viable. Battery storage is not, if you need storage Australia is a huge space filled with rock good enough for vast areas of compressed air storage at little to no cost. The dumb option is the Lithium ION battery which Musk makes, though small is unstable, expensive and of extremely short life. However the world is filled with politicians going for the dumbest most corrupt solution or else South Australia would not have had an energy supply problem to begin with. Perhaps it is time to advise the Aussie to go off grid until his betters can prove the Aussie is better off under the Yoke because the end result of letting the Peter principle take control of society is denial until failure can no longer be denied.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 12, 2017 10:57 pm

      ” ….. the Lithium ION battery…. extremely short life.

      On February 9, 2017 Tesla updated its Powerwall2 (European) warranty:

      Click to access Powerwall_2_AC_Warranty_Europe_1-0_English.pdf

      *If* it’s a similar warranty to be offered to the South Aussies, 10 years for national infrastructure wouldn’t be much to crow about.

      • March 13, 2017 8:07 am

        A warranty for 10 years for a product which usually fails before 5 is a bad deal for the company until you understand that it is a multinational ltd company, with insurance where the Australian branch could fall into bankruptcy without affecting Mr Musk in any way long after exporting the Australian taxpayers money. The waiver list is pretty exhaustive in that (EU) warranty including a remote control and update clause which leaves a security hole. I certainly would not want Tesla updating Sizewell B’s control room software from its office.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 13, 2017 3:50 am

      compressed air storage runs at 60% efficiency at best. You have to cool the compressed gas to store it, and reheat it when using it for generation. 10 units at $120 in = 6 units out at $200.
      SA has been paying well over that lately in spells so it might be acceptable to some. Indeed if the wind farms were forced to provide a steadier output it would be cheaper than running OCGT for peak demand.

      • March 13, 2017 8:34 am

        60% efficiency ‘is’ good enough if it is ‘cheap’ enough.

        As the article and most posters point out you are getting 2 minutes of backup power for your 10 year life at best battery, here it is potentially near infinite storage capacity with no appreciable infrastructure lifespan which is measured over a century.

        Those batteries are doing the same job as a granite flywheel far less ably and more expensively. 😦

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        March 13, 2017 9:02 am

        You do need suitable rock formations, preferably close to the demand. Also be prepared for rabid greenies to claim you will cause earthquakes, plagues and premature births among the lesser spotted desert toad (Like them I made that one up).

      • March 13, 2017 8:07 pm

        You could get by with a mostly good ‘bell’ in rock salt unfortunately they do not extract brine.
        I would chance using Australia’s 50,000 abandoned mines lined and sealed with concrete/fibreglass as a pressure vessel. enough would be in good enough shape to be useful.

  13. March 13, 2017 12:34 am

    First he said 100MWh now it’s upto 300MWh
    but that doesn’t seem enough to me

    Also from from the comments at JoNova
    It looks like Turnbull is a battery storage true believer and Musk has been telling him what to think.
    ABC says they are in talks.

    After Paypal Musk’s new businesses are pyramid scams

    • March 13, 2017 7:10 am

      I agree, around 1000 MWh needed, to guarantee 200 MW for 5 hours, the duration of a typical wind power lull there on very hot days.

    • Ken permalink
      March 13, 2017 6:52 pm

      A pyriamid scam with the US government at the base of the pyramid.

  14. March 13, 2017 3:33 am

    The wizard of subsidy milking at work

  15. March 13, 2017 9:32 am

    ‘we could have enough battery storage to replace this wind power for a whole minute’

    Just enough time to get to your diesel generator and fire it up before darkness strikes.

  16. March 13, 2017 11:44 am

    Appreciate the insight. I was wondering about his “solution”. Any problem can be fixed if resources are unlimited. We can fly the entire population to Mars with that kind of “fix”.

  17. Ken permalink
    March 13, 2017 6:50 pm

    Elon Musk … one of the largest beneficiaries of US government assistance in history.

    • David A permalink
      March 17, 2017 12:17 pm

      …Supplying the wealthy at the expense of the middle class!

  18. March 14, 2017 12:51 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “So for £125m, we could have enough battery storage to replace this wind power for a whole minute, should the wind stop.”

    Translated for South Australia:

    Subsidy sucking vampire Elon Musk’s 200 MILLION dollar toxic battery pack “could have enough battery storage to replace wind power for a whole minute (maybe 2), should the wind stop.”

    The great “unreliable” energy con just keeps getting better and better.

  19. Joe Public permalink
    March 14, 2017 8:41 am


    SA to spend $500m on Australia’s largest battery storage and gas-fired power plant – as it happened

    Sanity prevails, those Aussies realise they need some dependable & spinning generation.

  20. March 14, 2017 10:30 pm

    And when the batteries run out the grid will need twice? the capacity to both charge the batteries AND service the grid. OK you might get round that one; but nonetheless batteries do NOT produce electricity. They merely absorb it and later deliver some 60% ? (if that ) of it back into the system.
    The Dinorwick pumped hydro storage facility in Wales runs at about 75% efficiency and can supply Wales UK (not NSW) for about 6 hours; but cost a bomb. Fortunately it has the nuclear plant in Anglesey nearby which used to supply the aluminium plant which got dumped, so there is a bit of spare capacity there at the cost of importing aluminium.

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