Photo: Andrew Evers/CNBC
Tesla’s batteries, which are relatively low-cost and high-performance, highlight the drawbacks of an expensive hydro and wind project in Australia called Marinus Link.
A federal government-backed plan to turn Tasmania into a power hub supplying the big cities in the southeast of the mainland would be a costly dud, according to a Victoria University-linked energy researcher, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The plan to build out pumped hydro and wind generation and transport electricity over a 250-kilometer (155 miles) submarine cable known as the Marinus Link will cost $7.1 billion, according to a report from the Victoria Energy Policy Center. Research has shown that it would be better to build the same number of generators in the form of lithium-ion grid-scale batteries, such as Tesla’s, directly in Victoria.
The Victorian Big Battery, which links dozens of Tesla Megapacks, will shortly be commissioned while a similar-sized unit at Jeeralan should be ready by 2026, according to the report by Bruce Mountain, the director of the center. A further four major batteries are likely to proceed.
“Battery storage capacity will be built and operational in Victoria long before Marinus Link and the ‘Battery of the Nation’ developments in Tasmania are close to operational,” the report said. “Marinus Link continues to have no prospect of competing against battery alternatives in Victoria.”
The federal government has committed nearly $100 million to fund Marinus Link and has set up a joint venture with the Tasmanian state government to move the project to a final investment decision expected in 2024. But there is a risk that the project could lead to the creation of ineffective assets, according to the report.
“Considering the much higher efficiency and responsiveness of chemical batteries than pumped hydro, if pumped hydro is developed in Tasmania it is surely likely that it, not batteries, will sit idle,” Mountain said.
Hydro Tasmania, which leads the Battery of the Nation project, said the chemical alternatives would not be able to meet all of the storage needs needed in the future. This is because they can only supply power for short periods of time, such as one to two hours, while lithium-ion batteries can provide power for much longer.
“It’s not a question of having one or the other,” the state-owned power company said. “We will need all the relevant, cost-competitive technologies to play their part to ensure all Australians have a power system that is reliable, secure and affordable.”
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.