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Elon Musk during today's press conference in South Australia. Photo: Jay Weatherill's YouTube

Tesla has won the bid to install the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in South Australia—and must do it within 100 days or it will be free.

Jay Weatherill, Premier of South Australia, announced the partnership—alongside Elon Musk—during a press conference streaming live on Weatherill’s Facebook account.

“[This] is something...that is three times more powerful than anything else on Earth,” Musk said during the announcement.

Musk’s company will team with French-based renewable energy company Neoen for the project. Per the agreement, Tesla will install a 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system that will be paired with Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, South Australia.

The Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm, and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the operation of South Australia's electrical infrastructure.

“I do see this as something the world will look at as an example of being able to do large-scale battery applications for the grid. It’s really going to be an example to the rest of the world,” Musk said.

Neoen’s Deputy CEO Romain Desrousseaux echoed Musk.

“This is really a pilot of how we should integrate renewables with storage to make long-term sustainable…and competitive energy for South Australia, but also for most of the places in the world,” Desrousseaux said.

Leading the charge

South Australia is no stranger to renewable energy. Environmentalists have applauded the state in the last few years as it moved from coal-fired power stations to wind, solar and gas. According to the state, wind now provides 40 percent of its energy.

However, last September, a storm damaged infrastructure, and the grid became overloaded and collapsed—leaving 1.7 million residents without electricity, some for up to two weeks. Further blackouts occurred in the heat of the Australian summer in early 2017.

Wanting to maintain a leadership role in renewable energy, the South Australian government asked for proposals from interested parties that could deploy grid-scale energy storage options with at least 100 megawatts of capacity. Tesla was chosen this week after a “competitive bidding process” that included dozens of global companies.

100 days

One would expect a project of this magnitude to take months, even a year, but Musk professed on Twitter in March 2017 that his company could solve South Australia’s power woes in only 100 days. He reiterated that stance during today’s press conference.

“We need to get it done, we need to make sure it’s working properly, and we want to do it in less than 100 days,” he said.

Musk said he insisted the 100-day deadline be written into the project’s contract since that’s what he said publically. If Tesla falters, Musk said it would cost the company “a very large sum of money, maybe $50 million or more.”

In addition to the Powerwall improving the overall reliability of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure, Tesla announced the system is also being installed for residential customers across Australia.

“The same technology that can help stabilize the South Australian grid can also be used by homeowners to collect energy during the day so it is stored and made available day and night, providing uninterrupted power even if the grid goes down,” Tesla said in a press release.

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