(Australian Associated Press)
Aussie billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes who helped spark a social media debate about solving South Australia’s energy woes wasn’t expecting his conversation with Tesla to snowball.
But the co-founder of software firm Atlassian says there is a good chance of getting funding and a political commitment for a 100 day plan for large-scale battery storage, hatched by Tesla boss Elon Musk over Twitter.
“It’s been extremely surprising I have to say to me, the number of people who have reached out,” Mr Cannon-Brookes told ABC radio on Tuesday.
Mr Cannon-Brookes has already been approached by individuals, crowd-funding programs and superannuation funds interested in getting involved in the battery plan.
He is on the hunt for an economic model that will help South Australia and could deliver similar projects nationwide.
The billionaire believes Australian politicians are interested in solving the problem, after talking to more in the past week than in the previous year.
“I’m just trying to change the conversation so we talk about something other than coal and gas as a potential solution going forward for the country,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.
“It’s a little embarrassing as to how fast and how far it has gone.”
Mr Musk has pledged to have a 100MW solar and battery system up and running within 100 days of signing a contract, or provide it for free.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spent an hour over the weekend talking to Mr Musk about the proposal.
Mr Cannon-Brookes said the Tesla boss had almost halved the price in what he described as a “very bold offer”.
There’s an urgent need for a SA solution with fears of more summer blackouts unless something is done.
“We have about six or seven months to get something solved,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.
Major energy company AGL has offered Tesla a “one hundred day ready” site in South Australia where it was already considering installing battery storage.
“AGL welcomes ideas from all participants in the energy industry to help deliver solutions for our future energy mix,” chief executive Andy Vesey tweeted.
AGL is also testing a virtual power plant in SA, which uses residential batteries on 1000 homes to effectively create a 5MW power generator.
“While batteries will play a role it’s important to know what’s needed is an integrated national solution, which also considers other renewables and peaking plants in the energy generation mix.”