A whirlwind decision led South Australian sheep graziers Paul and Bill Stacey to end up with the world’s largest battery being planned for their property.
French company Neoen called them up on Tuesday afternoon and asked whether they wanted to house Tesla’s lithium ion battery on their land near Jamestown in SA’s mid-north.
Neoen owns the Hornsdale Wind Farm and leases three hectares from the fifth generation farmers’ 4,655-hectare station for nine turbines.
“In less than 24 hours we had to make up our mind whether we wanted it or not,” Paul said.
“Very fast, unbelievably quick actually, but I suppose they’ve only got a certain time to do it.”
With little time to decide for or against the decision, their concerns about the 10-megawatt battery were all about location.
“You don’t want to stand in the way of progress but we don’t want it where it’s going to be a nuisance for the rest of our life either,” Paul said.
“We had to make quick decisions but also wanted to see where it was going to go before we signed anything.
“And we were happy where they were putting it.”
By Thursday they had signed the contract and the following day it was in the news.
“It was a bit unbelievable but I sort of thought, they’re going to have to have batteries somewhere … but never thought we would end up with it,” Paul said.
The battery will sit next to a substation for the 99-turbine wind farm.
Premier Jay Weather says the battery has drawn attention from world media. (ABC News: Nicola Gage)
In support of progress
Bill Stacey said they supported turbines and the battery because they did not want to stand in the way of progress and renewable energy.
“When they first started putting them up [turbines] I thought it was a bit of an eyesore, but we’re used to it now and it’s just part of your daily routine,” he said.
For both Paul and Bill, it is the prospect of cheaper power bills that excites them most.
“It would be a lot better for us if power prices weren’t so expensive,” Bill said.
“Save money any way you can.”
Premier Jay Weatherill said the project had caught the eye of international media outlets and could attract other big investors to the state.
“When billionaire investors like [Tesla’s] Elon Musk decide to invest in a place, other people around the world pay attention to that,” he said.
“They make their decisions based on what he thinks and what he says.”