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France’s Neoen [NEE-yo-en] and the United States’ Tesla Inc., two renewable energy companies, have won the contract to improve a South Australian wind farm.
Tesla has pledged to create the largest lithium ion / ˈlɪθ i əm ˈaɪ ən / battery to support the wind farm made by Neoen. The battery is meant to solve the problem of intermittent wind power in the area. It is designed to operate at all times to forestall large-scale blackouts.
Tesla pledged to complete the battery project within 100 days of signing an agreement with the state. The battery should be operational by December 1, in time for Australia’s summer season where electricity demand is at its highest. Otherwise, Tesla said that it will give the battery for free.
Some speculate that the contract was made because of a state-wide blackout in 2016, caused by one of the worst storms in South Australia in 50 years. Electricity was down from afternoon until night, disabling electric trains and traffic lights and causing a state-wide traffic jam. Phone lines were also not functional, and schools and businesses were shut down.
According to some critics, the blackout was caused by the government’s rush to replace coal-powered electricity with renewable energy, like wind and solar power. The government is hoping that Tesla’s battery will be able to provide a more stable renewable energy source.
South Australia is leading in terms of large-scale renewable energy sources. Just last August, the government also gave a contract to an American developer for the creation of a solar thermal power plant. Once completed, the plant will be used to supply power for the state government.