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Tesla gets a headstart in 100-day battery race

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Tesla’s promise to build South Australia’s “world’s biggest battery” within 100 days or it’s free is starting to look a little hollow, with work beginning on the facility before the clock starts ticking.

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When Premier Jay Weatherill and Tesla boss Elon Musk stole international headlines with the battery announcement in July, the fine print of the tech billionaire’s freebie promise was also revealed.

According to the Premier at the time, Telsa would install the battery within 100 days of the signing of the grid interconnection agreement, or it would be free – a slightly different take on the promise made by Musk via Twitter in March.

The other key undertaking was that the 100MW battery would be up and running by summer, storing energy from Neoen’s wind farm near Jamestown to add stability to the South Australian electricity grid.

Today, we are within 100 days of summer beginning and the grid interconnection agreement has not yet been signed.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis confirmed to InDaily today that the clock hadn’t started ticking on the 100-day guarantee, but construction work had already started on the battery site.

“Neoen, Tesla and the SA Government are working closely with key stakeholders, including AEMO and ElectraNet, to progress approval of the connection agreement as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.

“Construction at the site has started and the batteries are on their way to South Australia, with the facility on track to be operational by December 1.”

He said the construction timeline was “a matter for the private sector proponents Tesla and Neoen”.

“It’s good that Tesla and Neoen are being proactive and that construction has already begun in preparation for the arrival of the Tesla batteries.”

A failure to hit the 100-day deadline would have been a bonus to the South Australian taxpayer: Musk predicted it would cost him at least $50 million if he missed the deadline.

InDaily reported earlier this month that South Australian company Consolidated Power Projects (CPP) had been contracted to provide engineering and construction services for the battery.

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