Tesla’s Game-Changer In Renewable Energy
by mmccalli on October 6, 2017 - 10:34pm
One week ago, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla announced that the company was approximately halfway done building and installing a 100 MW/ 129 MWh utility-grade lithium ion battery bank near the 100 MW Hornsdale Wind Farm in Southern Australia. When complete, Tesla’s battery bank will be three times larger than the largest grid-tied system in the world. Musk promised to deliver this massive project to South Australia after years of sporadic power outages. He also promised that he would finish installing the battery bank in 100 days of the project’s approval or it would be free.
What This Means for the Energy Sector
This development in grid-scale battery storage will help to stabilise the reliability of the electrical grid, while reducing prices for consumers. The batteries can be charged when there is excess or cheap power, which can be used when power becomes more expensive to produce; moderating the cost to customers. For a long time, energy storage has been one of the biggest limiting factors in renewables. With new technology, it is becoming more and more feasible for cities that were previously powered by coal, gas, and oil to switch to wind and solar. It is now possible that Tesla could power the entire country of Australia with a solar field around one-tenth the size of Sydney. Tesla is proving just how quickly this technology can be integrated on a large scale. South Australia is becoming a great example of how countries can begin to tackle climate change while powering economies efficiently. Because of new innovation from all over the world, renewables are quickly becoming the cheapest energy source available.
What This Means for Canada
From a Canadian context, I would argue that these technological developments give us the opportunity to reevaluate the idea the Canada is a resource-based economy that depends on oil for growth. I think that we should take this as a sign that we should lessen our fossil fuel dependency and allow ourselves the flexibility to move into new sectors of renewable energy technology. If we do not react to these changes in technology, we could soon find ourselves in a staples trap, depending on a market that might become obsolete.
*Staples Trap: The theory that in economies dominated by the export of staple goods, these staples will control the pace of economic growth.