Tesla boss Elon Musk just made a pretty remarkable wager; he's promised to install new batteries to fix South Australia's energy issues within 100 days, or the state gets the power system for free.
The Australian state of South Australia is the most heavily reliant on renewable energy in the country, taking 40 percent of its power supply from wind, solar and other green sources. The state has been embroiled in a number of electricity supply issues during recent heatwaves, and earlier during a large storm where the entire state plunged into blackout. Energy is currently a hot button issue in Australian federal politics, with the government looking to roll back its renewable energy target amidst debate about power prices and reliability.
The Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday that Tesla's battery division had offered to supply 100 to 300 megawatt hours of power to the state. That's reportedly enough "to prevent the blackouts South Australia has been experiencing", according to the AFR.
"We don't have 300MWh sitting there ready to go but I'll make sure there are," Lyndon Rive, the company's vice-president for energy products, told the AFR.
Mike Cannon-Brookes, another big-time tech wizard from Australian software company Atlassian, tweeted the story on Thursday night, challenging Musk to get it happening and saying he would stump up some cash himself.
Tesla's batteries collect power during the day from solar panels, and store it to use at night or when solar power is not directly available. Such storage capacity is required for renewable energy programs to function on a large scale, to store power when -- for instance -- the sun is not shining for solar panels or wind for wind turbines is not blowing. The company has rolled out models suitable for home use, small wall-mounted units that plug into a home's solar panels to collect power without need to connect to the electricity grid, but Tesla's moves to supply power on a much larger scale are still developing.
Tesla has power plants in California with millions of these small batteries linked together, and it seems such a concept may be headed our way before too long.
Musk, who has been spending a lot of his time recently talking about Hyperloop rail and sending private citizens into space, is not a huge Twitter user but he actually replied to Cannon-Brookes on Friday -- and his answer is pretty amazing.
@mcannonbrookes Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 10, 2017
That's the billionaire boss of Tesla/real-life Tony Stark putting out the challenge to the government of South Australia to sign a contract with his company to supply power to the state, and if he can't pull it off within a few months, the whole package is free.
That left it up to SA to either take up or reject the wager.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill responded to the offer on Friday, saying he's already "on it" and "looking forward" to a discussion with Musk and Tesla.
@samregester we're on it Sam— Jay Weatherill (@JayWeatherill) March 10, 2017
And now, we wait for the results.