Skip to main content
Who's laughing now?

Who's laughing now?

Oh, I know. Elon Musk. 

He made it, with days to spare. When Musk made a bet that he'd deliver to an impossible deadline of 100 megawatts of lithium-ion battery storage in 100 days to Jamestown, in South Australia's mid-north or it would be free, plenty of people thought his come-up-pence had finally arrived.

Not just for Musk, but so too for the greenie, renewable power loving, risk taking new age premier, Jay Weatherill. 

Well Weatherill bet on Musk and he's won. At an estimated cost of $AUD65.5 million, it was a big bet that left many smirking in their coal powered lattes waiting for SA's next blackout. And  yet, here we are, going live on 1 December 2017 and not a hitch in sight.


And there it is. Done. A win for sustainability. And a win for no bullshit leadership. Staring down the coal lobby, the wind turbines are ugly, the renewable energy is irresponsible and the every other undermining, uninformed, unified planet smashing silliness.

The climate change movement needs big wins like these and champions with both the capacity and the willingness to just do it in that no excuses, we'll just show you, impossible is just your word, kind of way. And the good news is that more and more of these leaders and events are coming.

The story of the impact of this installation on industry and the residents of SA cannot be understated and will be well covered by media everywhere. As will Musk's next steps, now he has the proverbial battery on the landscape. (It seems like yesterday that the first teeny Tesla household batteries arrived, but are now table stakes, even for new frontier solar companies like Evergen.) 

What I am really interested in is the way this manoeuvre, along with many others like it is realigning the way large scale work really gets done and risks are taken, when key people, with real commitment to good outcomes get involved.

Contrary to the usual bloated corporations of over zealous decision makers more interested in their own personal agenda than fixing (in this case) a state's crappy energy back up system. And prime ministers who don't fancy the look of a wind turbine or their disappointing replacements who try to blame renewable energy as a thing when it's a back up system problem.

Well, here's how it's done. First up, Musk got this gig by tweeting an offer across the world to a man he'd never met. (I guess if idiotic excuses for Presidents can tweet whatever pops into their teeny brains at midnight, it shouldn't be surprising that one of the most powerful tech biz owners on the planet would tweet a $65 million offer of batteries to a Australian Premier in the middle of an energy crisis.)  Anyways, that's what happened. Just like that, we have a kind of a new age speed business date.

Mike Cannon-Brookes even weighed in on Twitter with an offer of help to navigate the politics / business and help facilitate the deal. A 3 way, no less!

Next, while Musk rustles up one of his planes for a flight to Australia, Weatherill is still in full flight being beaten up by pretty much everyone from the Prime Minister to those sheltering from storms and falling trees around the street corners of his embattled state.

Wouldn't you love to know if Weatherill thought Musk really was the goods or he was so far in that he might as well just go for it?

Either way, both men had a lot to gain and realistically not much too lose. I say this because I am pretty sure Musk could drop $65m before dinner any week day and Weatherill, because his determined support for SA renewable energy seemed to have pretty much set himself alight with the traditional energy boys fanning the flames with his own wind turbines.

Well, Musk arrived, made his offer, won the deal, gave a speech or two and his team set to work. 

And it all just goes to show exactly what can happen when you have one determined CEO & a Premier who cares to back what he stands for. (Got that, Malcolm?)

Imagine if this thing had been commissioned, send out to tender and evaluated? We'd still be arguing about if it was even possible. And some high risk tech spiv from USA would certainly not be getting the gig ahead of one of our tried & true dirty energy solutions. Time would have been turned back. The dirty energy guys would have mobilsed their PR machine, Weatherill would be out of parliament, retired to his beach house, counting his sea shell collection. And SA would have pulled into whatever responsible line it had apparently gotten out of.

Now I know this little syllogism isn't perfect, but whatever happens next, the way this deal was done will change the course of history. For starters, Elon Musk's cheer leader, Mike Cannon-Brookes is getting educated by Dr Alan Finkel on how the energy sector works and he's looking to make old energy history and a few pollies with it. 

And speaking of history, Tesla's new Truck has been unveiled and is open for orders in 2019. 

Images: Tesla | SA Government

Something incorrect here? Suggest an update below:
Fluer N

Switched over today! Victory for sanity. Congrats to Jay Weatherill for backing himself. Not many Premiers left who would do what he did. Friday, 1 December 2017

Manda E

Love this!!! So much. Thursday, 30 November 2017


Thanks for penning such a brilliant and witty piece. What a win! And, you know the trucks will be a game changer... Thursday, 30 November 2017