“I was in contact [with Elon Musk] overnight, unsurprisingly. Tesla builds fantastic batteries. If there was an option to be involved in a project as expected, they would say, sure, let’s have a look at it. Right?
“If you want a large-scale battery, there’s only a couple of companies that can do that.
“[But] if you say we’re building a gas plant no matter what, then guess what? They’re not going to be interested because they actually have nothing to bid for or against.“
SA battery a success
Last time the billionaires put their heads together on Australian energy policy in a Twitter exchange in early 2017, Mr Cannon-Brookes challenged Mr Musk – who said he could solve South Australia’s grid problems – to build a battery in less than 100 days.
That battery, deployed by French company Neoen at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, is considered a success, taking just a little over two years to recoup the cost of construction.
“If the government wants it done fast, great. Tell us there’s an April deadline. We’re great with deadlines. Tell us they have to be live by 2023 December. Great.
“These are the rules of the game. Let the market bid for that,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.
“My concern is having the rules there so that I could be open to it; without those rules there’s no no way that I could be open to it no matter what.”
Mr Cannon-Brookes told The Australian Financial Review some of what Mr Morrison announced was good news, such as new interconnectors to better integrate renewable energy into the grid.
“Offshore wind on the west coast of Tasmania is one of the best wind resources we have in the country. It’s largely untapped because Basslink is full. Why would you build a wind power plant if you can’t sell it to the Tasmanians that have all the energy they need?
“If you built the Marinus [undersea cable from Tasmania] then you’re going to have a lot more of that energy again coming into NSW or coming to Victoria.”
He queried whether that 1500MW link was included in the government’s modelling, joining the chorus of people questioning the need for a 1000MW gas-fired generator when the Australian Energy Market Operator says only 150MW would be needed after Liddel closed.
“I’d just like to see the numbers. Show us the numbers. I have not seen any numbers. I’ve just seen a press release with text on it,” he said.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor said the government’s been very clear on what’s needed.
“It’s very clear. We need 1000 megawatts of capacity. We need it committed by April next year. It’s got to be capable of running 365 days a year, 24/7. It’s got to be dispatchable,” he said.