Decentralized electrical utility, one Megapack at a time
Elon Musk’s new hidden proposal is a massive grid battery in Texas intended to improve grid reliability. And while it’s not the first or the only grid storage facility Tesla has ever installed, it may be a blessing to the company’s goal to become a decentralised electrical utility.
Tesla’s energy sector expanded 200 per cent year-over-year in Q4 2020, and over the last three months, the firm installed a total of 1,584 MWh of energy storage. Elon Musk’s hope is to see Tesla Energy becoming a dispersed global utility that has finally outgrown the automotive industry. To this end, the firm has pressed hard for the acceptance of its Powerpack and Megapack installations.
Slammed by a number of power outages last month by a record-breaking deep freeze, millions of Texans witnessed one of the shortcomings of the state’s autonomous electrical grid. The winter storm demonstrated the need to link to other US power grids and update grid maintenance policies in preparation for any severe weather events.
According to the Bloomberg paper, Tesla set up a subsidiary registered as Gambit Energy Storage LLC to quietly instal a 100-megawatt energy storage facility in Angleton, Texas. It’s basically a vast number of batteries intended to fuel 20,000 homes on a hot summer day. The Texas Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT) is evaluating a plan to commence commercial service by June.
Musk has been involved in moving into residential energy storage for years. In 2015, he proudly unveiled the Powerwall, a home battery solution that has yet to make a real impact in the market, despite having been available for years in select Tesla-branded Home Depot stores. Although the Gambit project is not Tesla’s first grid energy storage facility, it demonstrates its contribution to the energy market almost as much as it does to the business of electric vehicles.
In 2017, Tesla announced a 100 megawatt grid storage facility installed in South Australia to store the surplus energy provided by the wind farm. Powerpack and Megapack devices for utility storage have been in operation for years near substations and in small towns, saving millions of dollars in the process. These are relatively limited networks, but Tesla and PG&E are currently installing an 182.5-megawatt facility at an electrical substation in the San Francisco Bay Area, which should be operating by the end of this summer.
Image credit: Bloomberg