Elon Musk, Solar Snake-Oil Salesman, Hits a New Mark…

Elon Musk, Solar Snake-Oil Salesman, Hits a New Mark…, by James Delingpole.

Elon Musk … has struck with the government of South Australia, promising to help resolve the state’s energy crisis by building the world’s largest grid-scale battery. The Independent reports:

“South Australia has picked Tesla to install the world’s largest grid-scale battery, which would be paired with a wind farm provided by France’s Neoen, in a major test of the reliability of large-scale renewable energy use.”

“South Australia, the fifth-biggest state with a population of 1.7 million, has raced ahead of the rest of the country in turning to wind power. Its shutdown of coal-fired plants has led to outages across the eastern part of the nation, driving up energy prices.”

“The drawback to South Australia’s heavy reliance on renewables has been an inability to adequately store that energy, leading to vulnerabilities when the wind doesn’t blow.” …

But who is paying for the giant battery?

Within the context of addressing South Australia’s electric power system stability needs, a 300 MW-hr installation appears to have been unaffordable. Premier Jay Weatherill has a total of A$550 million available, and Tesla’s massive battery is only a part of the necessary capability.

Musk’s unicorns-for-fairydust scheme hasn’t impressed this Australian writer, Graham Richardson, either:

“Call me a cynic but I am always suspicious when the zillionaire flies in to a fanfare of a hundred trumpets and a thousand cameras to make an announcement as big as this without mentioning, or even hinting at, what the enterprise might cost.”

“Musk is a proven grand master at relieving governments of huge chunks of taxpayers’ money. It is a fair assumption that he is not paying the whole of the bill. Well then, how much is he coughing up and how much is Jay Weatherill putting in. If Musk is putting it all in then surely the South Australian Premier would be crowing about his negotiation skills.” …

South Australia is the poster child for green energy:

South Australia is a green experiment gone horribly wrong: crippled with blackouts and crazily high energy prices which have been hugely damaging both to businesses and consumers, as well as reducing a state in one of the world’s civilized countries to a level in energy-reliability terms is more akin to Zimbabwe’s or Iraq’s.

Its miseries are entirely man-made. South Australia – like the rest of the continent – is sitting on mountains of cheap, abundant fossil fuel. This energy disaster is purely the result of the local government being hijacked by green zealots …

As a green evangelist himself, Elon Musk is very much part of the problem rather than the solution.

Like South Australia’s energy experiment, his business model is predicated on massive taxpayer subsidy being provided, indefinitely, till the glorious day — sometime in an unspecified future — when giant batteries can store renewable energy on a commercial scale.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific, Charles