Musk says storage orders surge on success of Tesla big battery

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Elon Musk says the Tesla big battery in South Australia has exceeded performance targets “significantly,” a success that has put a rocket under sales of the company’s commercial-scale Powerpacks.

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In what has been a “phenomenal” year for Tesla – think Model 3 production hell, the Tesla Semi, a Roadster in space – one of the company’s biggest victories has come from a rather unexpected source: the 100MW/129MWh Big Battery system it installed next to the Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown in South Australia.

That’s partly because Tesla managed to deliver – within 100 days – the largest grid-connected lithium-ion battery system in the world. But it’s mostly because, so far, the Tesla big battery has been a runaway success in its new role in the National Electricity Market as the Hornsdale Power Reserve.

And that’s not just because we say so (although, we do). According to Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, the SA big battery has been “exceeding its performance targets significantly,” since its installation.

And that success has lit a small fire under sales of the company’s commercial-scale battery packs.

“Due to the success of this project, we’re seeing an increase in demand for Powerpack, our commercial energy storage product,” Musk said in the company’s quarterly results letter on Tuesday.

“With more electric utilities and governments around the world recognising the reliability, environmental, and economic benefits of this product, it’s clear that there is a huge opportunity for us in large scale energy storage,” Musk said.

As we have reported on RenewEconomy, the Tesla big battery has been having a big impact since it was officially switched on in December – an impact that has extended far beyond the SA grid where it was expected to time shift a small amount of wind energy and provide network services and emergency back-up.

On December 19, for example, when one of Australia’s biggest coal units, Loy Yang A 3, tripped without warning taking out 560MW and causing a slump in frequency on the network, the big battery responded, injecting 7.3MW into the network to help arrest the slump .

Since then it has also been actively bidding in the wholesale electricity market, helping to cap market prices, and helping to bring Australia’s gas cartel to heel.

Tesla has since won a contract for the 20MW/34MWh battery that will be linked to the 196MW Bulgana wind farm and will provide a new greenhouse – Australia’s biggest – with 100 per cent renewable energy.

Tesla has also bid for the new big battery to be installed in northern Territory – to help the local utility to stop wasting money having gas turbines spinning in reserve in case one of them trips off – and is believed to be bidding for other projects in Victoria.

The Tesla big battery will also soon be joined by other projects such as Wattle Point, Lincoln Gap, and the newly announced solar plus battery storage project to be installed next to the Snowtown wind farm.

But it’s not just the Tesla 100kWh Powerpack battery storage module that is capturing interest.

Musk says demand for the 13.5kWh Powerwall 2 for home energy storage remains “exceptionally high”, with orders “consistently above production levels.”

Indeed, Australian installers and consumers experienced major delays as the production focus was switched to the Tesla big battery and to emergency projects in Puerto Rico, where the entire grid was knocked out by a hurricane.

Musk acknowledged those production difficulties:

“Solar deployments were affected by the short supply of Powerwalls for customers who wanted solar plus Powerwall in their house,” he said in a statement.

“While volumes may continue to be impacted by these factors over the near-term, we expect growth to resume later this year.”

Sales of Powerwalls should also be boosted by the deal – again with South Australia – to build the world’s biggest “virtual power plant” and install battery storage systems in 50,000 homes, along with 5kW of rooftop solar.

Musk said the company deployed 143MWh of energy storage products in the December quarter, not including the 100MW/129MWh Tesla big battery, which will be recognised in the March quarter.

“The production ramp of our storage products is just as steep as with Model 3,” Musk said.  “This year, we aim to deploy at least three times the storage capacity we deployed in 2017.”

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22 Comments
  1. GlennM 8 months ago

    New Markets always “boom and bust” the “solarcoaster” seems to have been replace by the “Batterycoaster”. We seem to be in a phase for at least three years of being “battery limited”.

    • Joe 8 months ago

      Solarcoaster?

      • GlennM 7 months ago

        That is the term people in the solar industry use to describe boom and bust ie up and down like a “rollercoaster”

      • solarguy 7 months ago

        The Solarcoaster is a shit of a ride man. Take it from me, for 10yrs I’ve been riding the bastard. And the stress has been unbelievable!

        • GlennM 7 months ago

          You have my sympathy….being a Pioneer in a new industry can wear you out. I hope 2018 is a good one for you..

          • solarguy 7 months ago

            Thanks mate. Apart from State and Federal governments changing the goal posts with rebates (in some cases, overnight) the biggest threat are the shonks, who con gullible people into believing their getting a bargain and stealing work from the good guys. No business can get stock of good quality panels and Inverters that cheap that they can offer prices that are 40% cheaper. But the shonks get them in and when they do get caught, they discover that their panels aren’t say Trina, but no names that aren’t accredited with the CEC and aren’t eligible for STC’s, if they actually get any thing at all.

            The other side of the coin is crap panels, inverters and crap workmanship. Some times Network inspectors shut the systems down until problems are fixed. It’s then that the bargin seekers, call someone like me to fix things for them. Only then does the penny drop, but most won’t pay the price to rectify the bad work or replace ineligible panels, preferring instead to leave them there doing nothing.

            Fair trading does nothing to get these bastards out of the market. Google Crap Solar for some extra enlightenment.

    • Robin_Harrison 7 months ago

      This new market, the exponentially growing renewable energy and electric transport market, won’t be limited by much at all this side of complete takeover, apart from futile resistance from the FF industry who are rapidly being out priced.
      But you’re right, boom and bust. The boom will be in new technology and the bust will be in the old.

    • solarguy 7 months ago

      Glenn, There are other batteries out there. Tesla ain’t the be all and end all.

      • GlennM 7 months ago

        I know, I was talking all suppliers…I just bought a LG RESU had to wait a long time. For work we are trying to buy Panasonic 18560’s they are like hens teeth and the pricing is going up

        • Mike Dill 7 months ago

          Oh, the HDPR has ?Samsung? batteries. My suspicion was that there is a shortage of cheap Panasonic batteries from the factory.

      • Greg Hudson 7 months ago

        True, but Tesla is the cheapest per hWh

        • solarguy 7 months ago

          Nah, not really.

    • eric 7 months ago

      Australia should do well mining all the minerals for these batteries. Hope there are enough!

  2. MaxG 7 months ago

    Love the company and what it stands for; still capitalist, but at least with a vision of changing things for the better.

  3. Michael Murray 7 months ago

    Spotters fee ?

    • Greg Hudson 7 months ago

      Spotters Fees abound… Ask any Model S or X owner for a referral code. Savings can be substantial, and the spotter makes money too !

  4. itdoesntaddup 7 months ago

    The $675m quarterly loss Tesla announced should be some pause for concern. Burning cash may be fun, until sentiment changes. Telas have to show they can make money, not just reap a subsidy harvest.

    • Tom 7 months ago

      Energy storage and solar is just marketing for them; a tiny slice of revenues.
      Cars are the main game and they aren’t making enough of them

      • neroden 7 months ago

        They’re also not making enough batteries for energy storage, as noted.

        Basic problem is that they can’t yet manufacture fast enough to come anywhere close to meeting demand. It’s a serious problem!

        • Greg Hudson 7 months ago

          True. The Giga factory is barely a mega factory of sorts at present. One day it might run at 100% but not yet…
          Disclaimer: Model 3 reservationist, and Tesla shareholder. (long)

  5. onesecond 7 months ago

    All the world wants more Tesla products than they can make right now, so they have to invest a lot to try to satisfy the ever growing demand.
    That is the only problem Tesla has and what a luxury problem it is!

  6. Joe 7 months ago

    “Crazy off the hook demand” huh? We’ve heard that one before. Too bad their quarterly reports tell a different story.

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