Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has joined the throng of entrepreneurs pitching potential solutions to South Australia's power woes.
But the boss of Tesla and Space X has made an intriguing pitch — declaring his company could install a battery farm capable of "fixing" the system within 100 days, or else do it for free.
External Link: Elon Mush tweets: @mcannonbrookes Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?
South Australia suffered a statewide blackout last September, while during a recent heatwave customers were intentionally blacked out because there was not enough power to meet demand.
Mr Musk backed up a suggestion by his vice president for energy products, Lyndon Reve, that they could help prevent increasingly regular blackouts in South Australia.
"Storage can solve the immediate problem within the next 100 days," he told ABC News.
Tesla has been spruiking its Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 battery products in Australia this week.
Mr Reve said Tesla had recently completed a similar challenge in California after a methane leakage at a gas peaking plant.
"From start to finish, we installed an 80MWh battery pack at one of the substations in Southern California," he said.
The startling claim certainly caught the attention of another billionaire tech guru.
"Holy s#%t" tweeted Australian Mike Cannon-Brookes, who co-founded software company Atlassian.
It was at that point that Mr Musk, the South African-born Tesla chief, doubled down and shot a tweet confirming the 100-day boast and ending with: "That serious enough for you?"
Mr Cannon-Brookes tweeted this afternoon, asking the Tesla boss for "mates rates" and time to sort things out.
External Link: Mike Cannon-Brookes tweets: @elonmusk legend! ☀️ You’re on mate. Give me 7 days to try sort out politics & funding. DM me a quote for approx 100MW cost - mates rates!
Is he for real?
Who knows? Perhaps it's an elaborate marketing push, but Tesla did deliver on the battery farm in Southern California.
It was built using an array of 400 of Tesla's Powerpack 2 batteries.
What's not clear is what an array in South Australia would cost, or who would pay for it.
Tesla hasn't revealed how much the Californian array cost, but its website says the Powerpack 2 is infinitely scalable.
With some quick maths — it's clear that a system big enough for South Australia would run into the tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.Will it happen?
Photo: A solar power battery storage has already been spruiked as a solution by Zen Energy. (Landline: Kerry Staight)
Electricity generation in South Australia is privatised, so it would be up to private companies to decide whether they'd want to buy Tesla's system.
Or Tesla would have to decide to become a market entrant, which it hasn't done elsewhere.
It's worth noting Tesla isn't the only company pitching grid scale storage to fix SA's power problems. But all have been looking for government funding.So is the Government interested?
The South Australian Government is currently in the market for a new source of electricity to power its own needs.
The tenders for the 10-year contract specified that 75 per cent of the government's supply would come from a new market entrant.
The remaining 25 per cent would come from dispatchable renewable sources.
Tesla's offer could tick both boxes. But it's hard to see someone taking it up given the tenders have already closed.
Contacted by the ABC, SA's Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said his Government is "up for the discussion".
But when asked whether his Government would be stumping up the cash, Mr Koutsantonis said the private sector should do the investing.
The SA Government has flagged its own "dramatic" intervention to the power crisis in coming weeks, and has explicitly not ruled out re-nationalising parts of the privatised system.