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Asia Minute: Australia’s Massive Battery Project Sparks Renewable Energy Drive

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More than a third of the electricity generated by Hawai‘i’s largest utility last year came from renewable sources. Hawaiian Electric says the biggest source of renewable energy across the state is solar, followed by wind. A massive new project in Australia focuses on a different part of renewable energy: battery storage. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


South Australia will soon be home to the world’s biggest array of lithium ion batteries.

The government plans to link the batteries to a wind farm that’s under construction—all to stabilize an electrical grid.

Some big names are involved. Tesla will build the set of batteries which will be able to channel 100 megawatts of electricity—more than three times the power currently handled by the largest battery system on line.

Utility officials say that should be enough to provide electricity to tens of thousands of homes. Although the key to grid stability is its storage capability.

Tesla founder Elon Musk has promised to complete the project within 100 days—or provide it for free.

The battery system will be linked to a wind farm being built by the French renewable energy company Neoen.

The location is a critical part of the calculation: South Australia has been forced to cut back electricity during periods of high demand.

Last September, electric utilities suffered a state-wide blackout.

The challenge is to complete this project before the start of Australia’s summer—which in the southern hemisphere comes at a different time.

That puts the goal near the end of this year – summer down under starts December 1st.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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