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Tesla big battery will be on time, but households need to wait

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(Please see our updated story: Musk gets connection deal for big battery, then switches it on):

Tesla’s big battery is certain to be delivered by December 1, as scheduled, and may even come on line a little earlier, but households wanting their own Tesla Powerwall to store their excess rooftop solar are having to join a waiting list growing up to six months in some areas.

Tesla is due to make a major “milestone” announcement on the Tesla big battery adjacent to the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia’s mid north on Friday evening – expected to be delivered by CEO and founder Elon Musk, who is in Adelaide to explain his vision for life on Mars (sending cargo rockets in 2022), and his vision for life on the Moon and to use the rockets to link the world’s major cities within 30 minutes of flight.

The company is keeping mum on the big battery details, apart from describing it variously as a “milestone event” and a “PowerPack celebration” – but it promises to be big, and around 400 people are expected at the event.

It could be confirmation of the connection agreement that triggers the “100-day” countdown – which would set new standards for the opening of an envelope – or it could even be a demonstration of the 100kWh Powerpack batteries already assembled near the Hornsdale sub-station.

The 100-day countdown, in which Musk promised to install the 100MW/129MWh array “or it’s free”, is more of a marketing ploy in any case.

That is because the contract with the South Australia government requires it to be in place by December 1, 63 days away, and the Australian Energy Market Operator is counting on it as part of a suite of measure to prevent any further blackouts.

RenewEconomy has been seeking confirmation from Tesla, wind farm owner Neoen, AEMO, ElectraNet and the South Australian government on progress. All have said it is going along “as scheduled”, but offered little other information ahead of the event.

The Tesla big battery will perform two primary functions: One is to provide “network” services to the grid – super fast response in case of an emergency – while the rest will be used by Hornsdale operator Neoen to “time shift” wind output or store excess production. See here for a full explanation of what it can and can’t do.

But while the Powerpack installation is expected to meet deadlines, solar and battery storage installers are growing frustrated about the growing wait time for deliveries of the popular 14kWh PowerWall 2 batteries designed for individual households and some commercial use.

Demand is running hot, but as several installers told RenewEconomy on Thursday, customers now have to wait until February or March to get their equipment.

Nigel Morris, from energy monitoring SolarAnalytics, said on the latest Solar Insiders podcast that the delay in deliveries could have an impact on battery storage insalltaion numbers for 2017. Some suggest it could be 2,000 deliveries by the end of the year, but the waiting time could hit that.

Morris said installers were getting lifted supplies, even if their order books were much larger. (You can listen to the Solar Insiders podcast, which also discusses other battery brand names, here).

The exact reason for supply not meeting demand is not known – whether the shortfall comes from a bottleneck in production, in shipping to Australia, or is due to diversions to hurricane-affected areas in the US and the Caribbean, or because of the resources devoted to the big battery installation in Hornsdale.

Tesla has just installed an extension of its super-charging network to ensure that Tesla electric vehicle users can reach the Hornsdale site, and see the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in operation.

And despite the delays elsewhere, positive stories continue to emerge. And like the deliveries to hurricane-affected Puerto Rico, it’s about being able to save on expensive grid upgrades, or in the tragic case of Puerto Rico, the lack of an existing grid.

In Queensland, a council says it is saving $1.9 million in grid costs by installing a single 100kWh Powerpack at a water disinfection system in a relatively unique off-grid situation.

Sophie Vorrath also reports that a Domino’s Pizza outlet is beating a costly network upgrade by installing 10 of the PowerWall units in what is being described as the “world’s biggest commercial” installation of Powerwall units. Is this the new normal for small businesses?

Meanwhile, the battery storage industry eagerly awaits the outcomes of other key tenders. In Victoria, the result of a tender for two 20MW batteries totalling 100MWh of storage is yet to be announced (it was due at the end of August).

The industry is also awaiting the result of tenders and expressions of interest that have also closed for South Australia’s renewable energy innovation fund, which will include storage, and Queensland’s RE400 tender, seeking at least 400MW of large scale renewables with 100MW of storage included.

(RenewEconomy has provided an update following the Tesla event).  

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  • Joe

    I wonder if home owners will be willing to wait for their Powerwall 2, the delay may be longer than Feb-March next year. Competing battery companies have the temporary advantage of install ‘now’.

    • Patrick Comerford

      Maybe but as a early recipient of my Powerwall 2 no other battery comes close to it performance and specification. I have racked up six weeks now with the battery and my grid import for that period is ZERO. Well worth the wait in my view.

      • Joe

        Patrick, well done to you. You installed at the right time given the delays. Enjoy !

      • Ken

        Curious about the performance and price bit Patrick ?
        How is it different from another battery supplier of the equivalent kWh rating ?
        Was speaking to someone last week about batteries and they said something similar that its hard to compete against Tesla because they are so vertically integrated.

        What sort of cost are you looking at for the Powerwall ?
        Tesla spoke of $8k plus the cost of the install which was suggested at $1.5k.

        Was also speaking with BYD a couple of days ago and they were asking “why their batteries are not taking off in Oz?” ( Hire Elon to do your marketing…)

        If the govt, attached STCs to batteries then all brands would take off same as solar panels have, adding to the further death spiral of the network owners ..

      • solarguy

        That’s a big brave statement to make……….”no other battery comes close”. What is your reason for saying that. What experience do you have with other batteries of the same capacity?

        • Patrick Comerford

          Big brave or otherwise after the early performance indications of my PW2 I am a fully satisfied customer and the product has exceeded my expectations. You can’t always say that these days. I began my battery install project in Nov16 with a strong interest in the Sonnen 6kwh battery. I received a firm quote which put the installed price at over $2500/kWh. A bit outside my budget. I followed up and investigated the LG RESU 10H coupled with the SMA Sunny Storage inverter. Again firm quote gave installed price of $1300/kWh. This included extra for consumption meter and some additional degree of connect ability and a discount as it would be the installers first. Note none of these products could backup a grid failure. As I was about to go with the LG but with reservations Tesla announced their PW2 and the limited details were enough to say Wooagh all stop. So I spent the next six months waiting for each bit of detail on PW2 to firm up if it really was all it was cracked up to be. There was however one detail that could not be disputed and at around $800/kWh it was a no brainer on cost. Just to be on the safe side I got updated costs for the Sonnen and could do no better that $2000/kWh. So my PW2 came in at $11450 all up including the backup gateway which amazingly provides a UPS experience in the event of a grid failure, it allows my PV system to remain connected hence continuing to charge the battery and providing I don’t let the battery fully drain and switch off overnight the PV will commence recharging the next day.
          Coupled with the Tesla App giving mind blowing live info at your fingertips and the promise that only Elon can provide regarding future connectivity and functionality Crazy Brave statement? Maybe.

          • solarguy

            Thank you Patrick, clearly your a very happy chappy. Would you mind giving the cost breakdown of the system, i.e. battery, gateway and installation costs please. Plus what circuits are backed up?

  • Michael Murray

    Is it a coincidence that Simon Hackett is going for a drive somewhere ?

    https://twitter.com/simonhackett/status/913622982357950464

    • Scottman

      Nah, he’s just coming over with a ZBM2 cause I can’t quite afford one.

  • Mike Dill

    I have had the down payment for the PW2 now in place for 4 months. Yes, it is annoying to wait, but perhaps the batteries will get a bit better by the time I get mine sometime in the next year.

    • Allan Barr

      Early this year Tesla had a major breakthrough from their Canadian researcher which would effectively double the lifespan of their battery. As Tesla always improves their product as fast as they can am not sure at what point this improvement goes in, perhaps its already gone into the batteries.