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Tesla taps Samsung cells for huge Aussie energy-storage facility

Need for quick delivery behind snubbing of partner Panasonic

Tesla Energy batteries for businesses and utility companies at the Tesla Motors Powerwall Home Battery event in Hawthorne, California, on April 30, 2015.   © AP

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- Tesla's massive Australian energy-storage facility, which CEO Elon Musk vowed to build quickly after regional outages, will be equipped with battery cells from Samsung SDI instead of main supplier Panasonic

The decision to use Samsung SDI is a blow to Panasonic, which has its hands full with orders for electric-vehicle batteries. To meet a self-imposed deadline of 100 days, Tesla turned to the South Korean company since it could swiftly supply the cells. Tesla is importing the cells to the U.S. for final assembly before sending them to Australia -- apparently taking the promotional benefits over profit.

Following blackouts last year in South Australia, Musk took to Twitter this March, offering to solve the state's problems in the form of a bet: "Tesla will get the [battery] system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free."

The South Australia state government then placed an order for one the world's largest battery systems, capable of storing 100,000kW -- enough to power roughly 30,000 homes. 

Tesla is poised to drastically expand sales of large energy-storage facilities in other regions. The U.S. company is likely to more heavily tap into Samsung SDI's excess capacity in the future as it grows the business.

Taiwan and other areas that have experienced widespread blackouts are considering purchasing Tesla battery storage as well.

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