Tesla’s Australian chair – surprise, surprise – has a Tesla car, battery and solar

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Tesla chair Robyn Denholm, an Australian, outlines her passion for the company’s products and says Australia can lead in the transition to clean energy.

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Australian Robyn Denholm, the chair of electric vehicle and storage company Tesla, has revealed her passion for the company’s products, and says Australia can be a leader in the transition to clean energy.

Denholm, the former Telstra CFO who took over as chair last November after CEO and major shareholder Elon Musk’s run-in with US regulatory authorities over a series of tweets last year, made a rare pubic appearance at the Clean Energy Summit in Sydney on Tuesday.

She began by describing her own use of Tesla products, a Model S electric car she dubs “lady bug” – it is bright red – and the Powerwall 2 battery that stores much of the 9kW of rooftop solar she has in her home.

Denholm said her average 50km of driving each day was easily met by her home energy systems. “Driving on sunshine is really great,” she said, adding that 79 per cent of her EV charging and household electricity needs are met through her rooftop solar and battery system.

Denholm revealed few new details about the company’s products and business plan – other than the announcement today of the new battery megapack (read our story here), but said she believed that Australia could lead the way in the transition to clean energy.

She detailed the company’s numerous projects in Australia, including its virtual power plant in South Australia that has signed up 1,100 customers and aims to have 50,000, in what would be the world’s biggest VPP at 250MW.

Denholm noted the performance of the Tesla big battery at Hornsdale, which had slashed 57 per cent off the costs of FCAS and saved $40 million, and the new solar battery at the Gannawarra solar farm.

She also chronicled the battery storage deployed elsewhere in the world, and the rollout of EVs – soon to include the Tesla truck and Tesla Ute (and in Australia the Model 3), and then the Model Y.

“I’m a technology optimist,” she said.

“We as nation are at tipping point of having sustainable energy solutions that are better for the environment and better from an economic point of view.

“The economics are right today to lead this journey and Australia can lead the way,” she said.

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