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Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes asks Elon Musk for 'mates rates' in Tesla's Aussie energy plan

As the federal government grapples with talk of an energy crisis, two tech billionaires appear to be getting a ground-breaking deal done on Twitter.

The spur was Tesla's high-profile claim on Thursday that its batteries could solve South Australia's much-publicised energy problems in 100 days.

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Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes took up the claim with gusto, linking to an Australian Financial Review (AFR) article on the subject and asking Tesla founder Elon Musk if he was serious.

"Holy s#%t", he tweeted, then appealed to Musk directly: "Lyndon & @elonmusk - how serious are you about this bet? If I can make the $ happen (& politics), can you guarantee the 100MW in 100 days?"

Musk replied on Friday saying Tesla would install the system for free if it was not up and running within 100 days of a contract being signed.


Cannon-Brookes confirmed the deal with a digital handshake, calling Musk a "legend" and asking for "mates rates" and a week to sort out logistics.

Opting for transparency, Musk replied with a price of US$250 per kilowatt hour for 100MWh+ systems, about half the recently stated price of US$400-600.

Cannon-Brookes said his team had spent Thursday afternoon investigating the proposal, according to the AFR. And while it looks like a longshot, they concluded it is not unachievable.

"They [Tesla] could change the energy conversation in this country with a single deal - as well as prove their battery technology in a large scale application. It would be a huge win for them," he said in a message to the AFR.

His extremely preliminary analysis reportedly suggests the batteries alone would cost around $200 million reportedly, but funding potentially available from the government, various federal agencies, Telsa itself (and potentially Cannon-Brookes himself), means these costs should not be insurmountable.

"For sure! I'm not sure I could 100 per cent fund it yet but I'd certainly be a big contributor," Cannon-Brookes said to AFR.

South Australian premier Jay Weatherill quickly joined the Twitter conversation after being prompted, saying he had reached out to parties involved and was "looking forward to discussion".

"Storage is critical in managing the challenges posed by intermit sources of generation," Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said.

"The government continues to place a high priority on storage with the recent announcement that storage projects will be given priority by the CEFC (Clean Energy Finance Corporation) and ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency)."

The origins of the Twitter deal stem from Lyndon Rive, Tesla's vice-president for energy products, who was in Melbourne on Thursday and said the company could install up to 300 megawatt hours of grid-scale battery storage within 100 days if requested.

It is understood the company believes the proposal would require a change in electricity market rules, but not a direct subsidy.

"If you had storage deployed during the blackout [in] South Australia you wouldn't have had the blackout," Mr Rive said on Thursday.

He quoted prices of US$400-600 per kilowatt hour depending on configuration used, according to the AFR.

The proposal comes amid heated political debate about how to ensure energy security and reliability, and to limit price rises while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Zen Energy last month said its proposal for a $100 million large-scale solar plant with battery storage could solve most of South Australia's electricity problems if rules were changed to make it viable.

Proving they are capable of delivering on their promise, Tesla came to the rescue of California last year during an energy crisis caused by a gas plant. The company managed to build an 80MWh battery farm in 90 days to help solve the problem.

Tesla is building a $5 billion "Gigafactory" in the Nevada desert, reports the AFR, to meet demand for its batteries that can be used to store clean energy.

"We don't need more gas peaker plants or ridiculous "clean coal", Mr Cannon-Brooks continued on Twitter shortly after. Let's solve it with software and innovation."

He resumed this morning:


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