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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Tesla’s Australian Battery Pack Fire

Tesla electric car sign
NPR

Investigators in Australia are sorting through the aftermath of a Tesla battery fire in southern Australia. It’s part of a huge utility-scale project to store renewable energy.

Fire officials in Australia’s Victoria state say it took a crew of about 150 more than three days to control a burning 13-ton lithium battery — what Tesla calls a “Megapack.”

More than 30 fire trucks responded after the blaze broke out while the battery was being tested — flames also spread to a second Megapack.

Tesla says the massive batteries are designed to store renewable energy produced from solar panels and wind turbines — and to smooth the transmission of power to end-users — avoiding interruptions in the power supply.

The project is made up of 210 Megapacks — and involves Tesla, the state and federal governments, and renewable energy developer Neoen, a French company that owns and operates the facility.

The state government says the finished plant will store enough energy to power more than a million homes in the state for half an hour if needed to prevent a disruption of electricity flow.

But the main goal is to support a broader transition to shift the electrical grid, helping to achieve Victoria’s goal of providing half its energy from renewable sources by the year 2030.

The French company operating the site says it doesn’t know how long the investigation will delay work on the project, which had been expected to come online in Australia’s summer which begins in December.

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