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Giant Tesla battery providing explosion in renewable energy – not as intended

Toxic smoke from fire forces Australian residents indoors just two days after COVID lockdown lifted

Tesla's battery technology is extremely hot in Australia right now – but not in a good way. A 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery built in the state of Victoria using Tesla tech is literally on fire.

The "Victorian Big Battery" – an installation due to come online later this year – was commissioned by authorities "to boost the state's energy reliability, drive down electricity prices and support Victoria's transition to renewable energy – as well as creating local jobs as we take steps towards a COVID normal."

The battery is currently succeeding on the jobs front: The Register understands that over 20 fire brigade units have scrambled to extinguish the blaze.

Fire and Rescue Victoria stated the fire is burning in just one shipping container and that emergency crews are "working to contain the fire and stop it spreading to nearby batteries".

The blaze has sparked an air quality warning that suggests residents of nearby suburbs should move indoors, close doors and windows, and even turn off heating and cooling systems that suck air from outside homes or offices. The stay-at-home warnings came just after a COVID-19 lockdown ended in Victoria.

While the battery uses Tesla hardware, French renewable energy outfit Neoen is responsible for its construction, ongoing operation and maintenance.

Three weeks ago, Neoen touted the swift progress of the construction project.

Victoria's government commissioned the battery to create storage capacity that would offset the closure of coal-fired electricity plants. The battery was due to come online ahead of the southern summer.

The Register has approached Tesla and Neoen for comment on the cause of the fire. ®

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