Megapack? Musk hints at the next big thing in Tesla batteries

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Musk hints the next big development in storage from Tesla will be an even bigger battery – maybe the mega-pack is not far off.

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Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has hinted that the next big development in storage from Tesla will be an even bigger battery – at least in unit size.

Musk’s comments, in an interview with the US podcast Recode, increase expectations that Tesla is about to release a new utility-scale battery storage unit known as the “Megapack”, expected to deliver one megawatt hour of storage.

“We’re gonna have some other exciting announcements on the stationary storage front,” Musk says in the interview. “I can’t talk more about it, but …. we have a large product on the stationary storage side that I think will be very compelling for utility customers.”

The interviewer seemed to have no idea what he was talking about and didn’t ask any further questions on that.

Tesla currently offers the Powerwall 2 product of 13.2kWh for domestic and small commercial use, and the 100kWh Powerpack that has been deployed at the Tesla big battery at Hornsdale in South Australia, and the soon-to-be complete Ganawarra solar farm in Victoria.

Speculation about the existence of the “Megapack”, at 1MWh, has increased since a now-deleted item posted on Reddit and spotted by the US web-site Electrek.

It also pointed to the LinkedIn profile of recently departed Tesla employee Jeff Johnston, whose work experience includes leading, for six months of this year until his departure in June, a new product line known as the “Megapack energy module”.

But the reference to Megapack has also since been deleted, leaving just “energy module”, indicating the sensitivity of the product to Tesla.

The Johnston profile notes he had worked on the Powerwall 2, the Tesla 3, and the Tesla Semi configurations before working on the now mysterious new module development.

Tesla makes its energy storage products at the so-called Gigafactory in Nevada, although due to bottlenecks and a focus on the tesla Model 3, it has been unable to keep up with demand.  It expects to open Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York in early 2019, and then Gigafactory 3 in China.

The Tesla big battery at Hornsdale has been an overwhelming success, delivering higher than expected revenues, cost savings for consumers, and impressing the market operator with its performance, particularly its speed, versatility and accuracy.

It now plays a key role in the market operator’s grid management, as highlighted by the major transmission faults caused by lightning strikes that caused outages and generator trips in all states of the National Electricity Market, with the exception of the South Australia, where the big battery is located.

The Ganawarra battery is to be completed by the end of this month, and will be followed by other Tesla big batteries at the Lake Bonney wind farm in South Australia, the Bulgana wind farm in Victoria, and the Kennedy wind and solar complex in Queensland.

Interestingly, Tesla in its detailed 10Q filing following its third quarter report, revealed that revenue from the sale of Powerpacks to the Hornsdale project in South Australia amounted to $US72 million.

At current exchange rates that equates to $99 million, which is in the ball-park of the €56 million ($A90 million) estimate given to the battery owner, Neoen, in its recent filing for an initial public offering. The variations could be explained by foreign exchange movements when the transactions were brought to book.

Giles Parkinson is the founder and editor of RenewEconomy.

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