TOY SOUTH AUSTRALIA, BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED – Last year, Australia’s most mendicant state has discovered it’s hard to reliably power whatever economy it has got left with windmills. Last week, America’s most mendicant capitalist has offered to solve South Australia’s energy problems by supplying the state with batteries:

[Elon] Musk made the offer in response to a comment made on social media by Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder of Australian software maker Atlassian (TEAM) , who said he would be willing to line up funding and political support if Tesla could supply batteries that would solve South Australia’s problems.

Musk responded by tweeting: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?”

He quoted a price of $250 per kilowatt hour for 100 megawatt hour systems, which would imply a price of $25 million for the battery packs, when Cannon-Brookes asked for an estimate.

Faced with an ostensibly good deal with a price tag between $0 and $25 million, South Australia’s Labor government has now decided to do it all by themselves. As a result, their – or the long-suffering SA taxpayers’ – cost of getting the batteries will be $113 million, so somewhere between $88 and $113 million more expensive than Musk’s offer. Way to go, government. That’s by the way, part of a larger $385 million package to solve the energy crisis that could be solved at a fraction of the cost by allowing the state to be powered by energy sources which are economically viable at the current stage of technological development.

Elon Musk and South Australia’s Jay Weatherill have been made for each other. Weatherill rules over a state that pretty much survives only as Australia’s make work scheme, and should really be closed down in the interest of economic efficiency and federal budgetary sanity. Musk likewise survives thanks to an impressive talent for bullshit and self-promotion fuelled by $4.9 billion worth of government subsidies. Had the Weatherill government taken him up on his offer, ┬áSouth Australians would have been for a change subsidised by the American rather than the Australian taxpayers. Alas, Australia’s welfare queen state and America’s corporate welfare queen won’t be consummating their rent-seeking marriage.

As Reuters’ Clyde Russell writes, “Australia is becoming an interesting microcosm on how to, or how not to, transition an economy from being predominantly powered by coal to more climate-friendly alternatives.” So, situation normal.

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