Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Australia

Elon Musk: I Can Fix South Australia Power Network in 100 Days Or It's Free (theguardian.com) 274

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state's energy woes within 100 days -- or he'll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free. On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla's vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state. Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla's new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days. Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Atlassian, on Friday tweeted Elon Musk, asking if Tesla was serious about being able to install the capacity. Musk replied that the company could do it in 100 days of the contract being signed, or else provide it free, adding: "That serious enough for you?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Elon Musk: I Can Fix South Australia Power Network in 100 Days Or It's Free

Comments Filter:
  • If the batteries will be made in Nevada, and shipped to Australia, I'm curious to know how they plan to transport them. It seems to me the most logical way would be by boat but could they get there quickly enough? If these are lithium ion batteries would it be possible to ship them by air given all the shipping restrictions that are placed on lithium ion batteries currently? If they go by boat how would they be packed to minimize the chance of a catastrophe en route?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They'll be delivered by a suborbital flight made by a Falcon rocket, of course. ;)

    • by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:06PM (#54012785)

      The only logical solution is a hyperloop between Nevada and Australia. It wouldn't take long at the 600 mph, plus in a low-pressure environment the resulting fire from a mishap wouldn't spread quickly. :-)

    • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:16PM (#54012857) Journal

      charter air freight.
      Or regular air freight (but with the HazMat surcharge from the freight company).

      They're only banned on passenger aircraft.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      if he used his (or his company's) own aircraft, or even chartered them vs using an air freight service, i don't think the same restrictions apply.

      this is a straightforward marketing ploy.. win-win all the way. whether he meets the deadline or not, its big huge PR. and when (not if) the grid storage capacity works at this scale, it's advertising gold for similar installations. so ya, he'd pull out all the stops and spare no expenses on getting the product from nevada to australia.

    • They have this thing called 'insurance' so if something happens to the boat the person shipping the items will be reimbursed.
      • They have this thing called 'insurance' so if something happens to the boat the person shipping the items will be reimbursed.

        I don't think Musk needs insurance. He could just pay for the ship.

        And why are people worrying so much about the battery blowing up? Presumably it will be transported uncharged.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @02:13PM (#54013775) Homepage Journal

          And why are people worrying so much about the battery blowing up? Presumably it will be transported uncharged.

          Despite what some think, Lithium-Ion based batteries are most at risk when either overcharged or undercharged. You want to keep them at around 40% charge to minimize the reactions in the battery.
          Depleted Li-Ion batteries are dangerous enough that there's protection circuitry in them that kills the battery if it drops low enough, after which it will refuse to charge.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Getting them there is only a small part of the problem. The real issue is that Australia can throw lots of roadblocks in Elon's way, from customs to building permits. And there is a hell of a difference between delivering enough batteries in the stated time and building up a power system to use them. I think Musk's ego go the better of him here and he shot off his mouth too fast. Betting that you can do something in 100 days or it is free against the very people who can block you at every move isn't the sm
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        100 days from signing the contract.

        I'm certain that the contract will deal with all the roadblocks.
      • by jedrek ( 79264 )

        He said from the "day the contract is signed", meaning all those things will be covered by the contract.

    • by bareman ( 60518 )

      " how would they be packed to minimize the chance of a catastrophe en route?"

      With an insurance policy.

      It's about 3 weeks by boat. That gives about 25 days for production, 25 to ship, and 40 for installation with 10 leftover for the party afterwards.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        Plus if they're in-negotiations and it looks like the contract will be signed, they'd probably speculatively allocate production for the project, both of the batteries and of other system components. If that ~month manufacturing time under-contract can be reduced then that gives more time for on-site installation and troubleshooting prior to going live. And if the contract falls through those batteries and other components would probably find uses elsewhere anyway.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Are you imagining that 10,000 Tesla employees board commercial aircraft carrying batteries in their carry-ons and checked luggage? You DO realize that good are often transported in ways that are different from the way in which you transport your own person, right?
    • I'm curious to know how they plan to transport them. It seems to me the most logical way would be by boat but could they get there quickly enough?

      A container ship can cross the pacific in 2-4 weeks so that's not a big deal. Lead time would be a serious problem though for his 100 day boast. Presume it takes 20 days to transport the batteries and maybe another 30-40 to build them all (probably optimistic), they would be left with maybe a month to design, install and test the whole thing. Not saying it would be impossible but it would be a tight squeeze most likely unless he has already built the batteries and designed the system. He could probably

      • Scrum, eh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:59PM (#54013109) Journal

        > Presume it takes 20 days to transport the batteries and maybe another 30-40 to build them all (probably optimistic), they would be left with maybe a month to design, install and test the whole thing.

        So you would build it and deliver it, THEN start designing it? A Scrum advocate I'm guessing.

    • If these are lithium ion batteries would it be possible to ship them by air given all the shipping restrictions that are placed on lithium ion batteries currently?

      The restrictions are on shipping them on passenger airplanes [iata.org]. You can still fly them around on a cargo plane [iata.org], where the tolerance for risk has always been significantly higher.

    • If they go by boat how would they be packed to minimize the chance of a catastrophe en route?

      Maybe there's an autonomous drone ship available for a jaunt down under.

      n/t: if /. is so desparate for ad revenue that they're willing to make the site nearly unusable with these half-page ads, I guess we're counting the days to a parked page. Sad, really.

    • Well anyway they do it will requires fleets of vessels. We are talking hundreds of tons batteries.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Well anyway they do it will requires fleets of vessels. We are talking hundreds of tons batteries.

        A standard, old-school "Panamax" freighter can carry about 45,000 tons of cargo (plus the weight of the containers). The new freighters for the bigger canal can carry more than twice that. There's a reason freight moves by water where practical.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      If I were Tesla, I'd make the entire system fit in shipping containers. Given he has the things already produced, ship them right away, spread them out across 5 boats and ship an extra boat or two for redundancy (the government is going to be paying for it ANYWAY), plug the shipping containers in the grid and where necessary to each other. Within Australia, you can dispatch hundreds of trucks right away with some geographical redundancy (so a new container isn't too far away regardless of losses)

      The entire

    • The regulations on shipping via air including provisions based on the State of Charge of a battery, so an uncharged (or minimally charged) battery would be able to be shipped. I may be wrong, but this seems like something that won't be an issue.

    • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @01:53PM (#54013591) Journal

      https://www.anl.com.au/ebusine... [anl.com.au]

      Long Beach loading March 12, arrival Sydney Apr 4.
      23 days ocean transit, plus a couple of days screwing around at both ends, easily from origin to destination 30d.

    • Um You ship them UPS...

      https://www.ups.com/media/news... [ups.com]

      Seriously the stringent regulations only apply to passenger air craft. Since most US mail is transported by passenger aircraft, you can't mail batteries. But you can ship them UPS with pre-approval from UPS. For sufficient cash, I'm sure UPS or any other cargo airliner will happily load an entire plane with lithium ion batteries.

    • It seems to me the most logical way would be by boat but could they get there quickly enough?

      About 8-12 days.

      Now you can add another 40 days for logistics on the sending side, customs out, customs in and logistics on the receiving side, but those exist with a plane too.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      If the batteries will be made in Nevada, and shipped to Australia, I'm curious to know how they plan to transport them. It seems to me the most logical way would be by boat but could they get there quickly enough? If these are lithium ion batteries would it be possible to ship them by air given all the shipping restrictions that are placed on lithium ion batteries currently? If they go by boat how would they be packed to minimize the chance of a catastrophe en route?

      I take it Elon Musk has never been to Australia, especially South Australia.

      Around Australia there exists a rift in space and time that not only ensures there is a minimum 6 month wait time before something reaches Australia, but it also makes it cost twice as much. I call this the Oceanic Price Dilation Field (OPDF).

      Besides, then the South Australian government will just go down to Bunnings and get it for 10% less.

  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:05PM (#54012769) Homepage Journal

    The first is always free

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      And, as we all know, politicians become addicted to power quickly.

  • So one month to pack up the batteries and another 2 weeks to ship that's 44 days leaving 56 days for installation? It's not the materials, it's the manpower..
    • Re:100 days (Score:4, Funny)

      by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:29PM (#54012939) Homepage Journal

      If they can perform enough of the "installation" work prior to actually having the batteries present, then I'd make -j 1000000 that thing.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      It doesn't take two weeks to fly from Nevada to Australia.
      • The logistics of moving hundreds of tons of dangerous materials makes a few weeks seem overly ambitious to me.

        • The ability to land a rocket using vectored thrust on a moving platform is also a silly, nearly impossible task.

          Given the right price, hiring a dedicated transport to do the work is probably not a big deal. That's what, 4kg/kWh, so 4000kg per MWh or 400,000kg for the system.
          Sea transport makes the most sense, but it's also only ~4 chartered 777s worth of cargo (based on Fedex custom charters). For a special case, you can get lots of regs waived.

  • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:07PM (#54012799)
    Then they'll be back on Elon's doorstep in 5 - 10 years getting replacements because nobody else sells the batteries and they don't last forever...

    Of course he'd make this bet. It's not about solving a problem, it's about creating a very expensive dependency on his company.
    • by gmack ( 197796 ) <gmack@innerfi[ ]net ['re.' in gap]> on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:14PM (#54012843) Homepage Journal
      If the contract is large enough, you can get a third party to make the batteries for you.
    • by MrLogic17 ( 233498 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:20PM (#54012885) Journal

      It's a solution to blackouts. Of course it's going to cost money - but the question is, does this solution make economic sense?
      I'd wager (and so it Elon) that a big lump of batteries just might be cheaper than a new peaker power plant.

      • by kuzb ( 724081 )

        It's a solution to blackouts. Of course it's going to cost money - but the question is, does this solution make economic sense? I'd wager (and so it Elon) that a big lump of batteries just might be cheaper than a new peaker power plant.

        Sure, but is it cheaper in the long run? I agree with you in so far as to say that this is a question about total cost of ownership and continued maintenance. Power plants require their own expensive maintenance but those parts can be acquired from a number of different sources. Those sources can compete on pricing. Who does Elon presently have to compete with?

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Power plants take fuel, too, which can be the dominant expense. Some percentage--perhaps all--of the "peak only" generation capacity has to be kept spinning so that it can ramp up fast enough to matter, which adds significantly to fuel and maintenance costs.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2017 @01:21PM (#54013307)

        Lacking electric reliability is a drag on the economy [utilitydive.com]. Energy prices in this part of Australia are skyrocketing [decarbonisesa.com]. The economics on this are pretty straight-forward.

        As reported in the Australian Financial Review, prices in the state have been “frequently surging above $1000 a MWh this month and at one point hitting the $14000MWh maximum price”. The Australian Financial Review reports that average monthly prices have been three to four times higher than in the eastern states during the month of July and new contract prices in South Australia are nearly double the prices in the eastern states.

    • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:43PM (#54013015) Journal

      Of course he'd make this bet. It's not about solving a problem, it's about creating a very expensive dependency on his company.

      It's probably also about making a big PR splash. Even if he has to bust ass to get it done, ever other municipality in the world that has inconsistent power supply problems will ask "gee, if Elon could do it in Australia, why not here?"

    • Huh? I'm pretty a company filled EEs could swap out one battery storage system for another. Slashdot. Where did all the nerds go?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@NOSpam.world3.net> on Friday March 10, 2017 @01:16PM (#54013253) Homepage Journal

      They would be insane to buy them with less than a 20 year warranty. That's well within what you would expect for lithium batteries.

      For example, quality cells of the type used in Tesla cars (developed by Panasonic, who are partners in the gigafactory) are rated for 3000 cycles to 80% remaining capacity. That's the minimum you would expect to get from a cell that doesn't have manufacturing defects, not the average.

      So 3000 cycles, with one full cycle a day is over 8 years. But of course you won't do one full cycle a day. I don't know what the energy situation is down in Aus, but let's say they are pushing the batteries hard and getting 1 cycle every 4 days, or 25MWh/day average. That pushes them to 32 years, although there is some self-discharge and ageing so that might be pushing it. I'd expect a 20 year warranty though.

      For comparison their 6.6kWh Powerwall comes with a 10 year warranty. It will be lower because the environment is less controlled and there isn't any regular maintenance. Again, 10 years is the absolute minimum, just like your car doesn't fall apart the second the warranty expires either.

    • As apposed to every other solution which creates a dependency upon a different company.

      What's your point ?
    • Then they'll be back on Elon's doorstep in 5 - 10 years getting replacements because nobody else sells the batteries and they don't last forever...

      And we'd do it too given how cheap that would be compared to what we have now.

  • Given what seems like pretty steep logistical challenges, this is quite a bold claim. It'll be interesting watching this unfold...I for one am hoping the process is documented and presented either way.

  • Drop bears (Score:4, Funny)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @12:26PM (#54012925)

    Drop bears are attracted to batteries. I can't see the battery storage solution surviving the first drop bear attack.

  • Whether this is a good offer or not depends on the price etc. It is just a sales pitch. Buy my stuff and I guarantee it will be delivered within 3 months... Nothing special here. If he is asking some ridiculous price or if his product is not suitable for the job it is just air being emitted.
  • by r0kk3rz ( 825106 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @01:02PM (#54013129)

    As popular as Musk is, and he is no doubt doing cool things, I can't help but think that the SA Government should be looking locally for a possible solution before importing battery units from Nevada.

    We have an Australian company that is bringing Grid Storage products to market using Flow Battery tech called RedFlow [redflow.com], and it seems to be better suited for grid based applications rather than a re-purposed automotive unit, particularly when it comes to risk of fires.

  • 100 MW hrs solds a similar amount of energy to 100 tons of TNT. I really hope they plan on distributing the energy storage across the country, and not just having a few giant plants.

    • Not to minimize the devastation on Hiroshima, but they're not putting this 1mi directly above a city, and the results won't be radioactive.

      • So ~4% of Fat Man nuclear bomb

        I am not really sure. From what I was reading, Hiroshima was incredibly inefficient. On the order of 1%. And next to the "15 kilotons of TNT", they seem to be indicating that that is just the theoretical number based on the mass of the payload. Implying that the Hiroshima explosion was just 1% of the number given (15 kt).

        So it might actually be something closer to 400% of Fat Man. As for Little Boy (aka Hiroshima) it is either .7% or if I am reading this right 70% of the actual explosion of Hiroshima (minus

  • The just finished a similar project in Hawaii, just scale it up a bit. http://www.theverge.com/2017/3... [theverge.com]
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @02:29PM (#54013963)

    I find it interesting that lots of high-level business is now done through Twitter - both Trump and Musk are doing it, soon others will follow.

  • In what way is the Australian company Atlassian a Silicon Valley startup?

    Sure, it has an office in San Fran, but really .... (yes, yes, I know it listed on the NASDAQ)

    Maybe, "Billionaire tech founder Mikey Cannon-Brookes" or whatever. No need to co-opt everything ;)

    --Q

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday March 10, 2017 @02:52PM (#54014159)

    There was no power shortage in south Australia.

    There was:
    - A huge storm which took down several UHV power distribution towers.
    - The Heywood interconnector was down so the state was short some 650MW of capacity.
    - A massive upset from the infrastructure damage that tripped off the base load energy suppliers.
    - The loss of baseload caused the Murrylink interconnector (HVDC) to loose sync and trip (another 220MW gone)
    - A loss in all that wonderful green energy they have because without the baseload or the interconnect there was nothing left to synchronise wind, solar, storage, or anything else to the grid.

    You want to fix South Australia? Fund the upgrades to the SA/VIC interconnects that have been requested for the past 10 years. Do some much needed maintenance on the distribution network. SA currently has some capacity left in its generation. In 2018 they are expected to have a 600MW shortage during peak periods leaving them 200MW spare on the interconnect capacity.

    Throwing in a 100MW battery system won't do anything to prevent the next major blackout.

    • The Heywood interconnect was online but it did trip on overload when much of the wind capacity couldn't handle the upset caused by downed transmission lines.

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27

Working...