Could Tesla’s world-first hybrid energy project modernise electricity grids?

Following the deal to develop a world-first renewable energy project that combines wind, solar and battery storage in Australia, automaker and energy disruptor Tesla has been invited to showcase the "power and scalability" of its products in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico.

Late last week it was revealed that Tesla would partner with Vestas and Windlab to create a 60MW hybrid wind, solar and energy storage project in central north Queensland. The Kennedy Energy Park will by supported by Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the project looks set to cost around $160m.

The joint venture between Windlab and Japanese firm Eurus Energy Holdings will be the first of its kind to combine wind solar and storage to connect to Australia’s national grid via a single connection point. The project will consist of 43.2MW of wind capacity, 15MW of tracking solar technology and a 4MWh battery storage unit provided by Tesla.

“We believe Kennedy Energy Park will demonstrate how effectively wind, solar and storage can be combined to provide low cost, reliable and clean energy for Australia’s future,” Windlab’s executive chairman Roger Price said.

“The broader adoption of projects like Kennedy can address the recommendations of the Finkel review and ensure that Australia can more than meet its Paris Commitments while putting downward pressure on energy prices”.

The Kennedy project will generate around 210,000MWh of electricity annually, which is the equivalent energy supply for more than 35,000 Australian homes.

Puerto Rico’s rescue

While the final agreements were being put together on that project, Tesla has been assisting Puerto Rico’s energy recovery following the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, which hit the island last week. As of today (24 October) 23% of Puerto Rico’s power has been restored, with companies such as Tesla sending hundreds of battery systems to the island to be paired with solar generators.

With Puerto Rico aiming to modernise its outdated electricity grid, battery storage could act as the foundation of any new strategy. In fact, Bloomberg reported that government officials were already discussing potential solutions, including microgrids and solar, with Tesla.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello previously reached out to Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk to discuss creating a “flagship project” to boost the island’s grid flexibility and create a proof of concept for Tesla’s island-based work.

Musk has used Twitter to highlight the potential of battery storage. He previously claimed that Tesla could solve South Australia’s energy crisis in 100 days, while the Ukrainian Prime Minister also reached out to the Tesla founder on the social media platform.

Tesla recently issued the sale of 272 Tesla Powerpacks to provide electricity after dark to energy firm Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). The firm will use the Powerpacks to store solar energy generated in the day from the island’s 13MW solar farm, to generate electricity during the night.

Matt Mace

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