Fire erupts at Tesla Big Battery in Australia during testing

Big Battery at the Hornsdale Wind Farm, Mid-North South Australia. (Image courtesy of David Clarke | Flickr.)

A fire has erupted at one of Tesla Inc.’s biggest utility-scale batteries in Australia as the facility was preparing to begin operations.

The fire occurred within one of the Tesla Megapacks at the Victorian Big Battery during initial testing between 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. local time on Friday, Louis de Sambucy, managing director of Neoen Australia, which operates the facility, said in a statement. No one was injured, the site has been evacuated and the companies are working closely with emergency services, according the statement.

The site, near Geelong in Victoria, has been disconnected from the grid and there will be no impact to electricity supply, Neoen said. An Australian Energy Market Operator spokesperson confirmed that the site has been separated from the grid, and that the incident has not impacted electricity supply.

There is currently no threat to the community, Fire Rescue Victoria said.

Installing the 300-megawatt system in Australia’s second-most populous state is designed to modernize and stabilize the local grid, according to Neoen. AEMO has reserved 250 megawatts of the battery.

Battery storage technology is being deployed on an ever-growing scale to meet demand to back up the surge in wind and solar power generation, and Tesla’s technology has been used at several utility-scale projects across Australia.

Australia has been at the forefront of large-scale battery deployment since Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk in 2017 won a bet on Twitter that he could install one within 100 days and the Victorian Big Battery was the latest vying to be crowned the world’s largest. Tesla’s energy generation and storage business has been growing, though it still made up less than 7% of the company’s total revenue in the second quarter.

(By Stephen Stapczynski, with assistance from Craig Trudell)


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