Posted on August 17, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Last week, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] CEO Elon Musk made a rare appearance on SolarCity's quarterly earnings call. As Tesla is (soon) to combine with SolarCity, the call was chock full of insights into how Musk plans to revolutionize energy as we know it. Tesla and SolarCity will integrate solar power and stationary battery storage under one company. And, although the lion's share of media focus has been on the Tesla Powerwall for homes, stationary battery storage has potential far beyond residential applications. Musk explained some of the broader opportunities that lay ahead for Tesla and the future of energy.
Above: Musk talks about the solar power and Tesla Energy (Source: Teslarati*)
Teslarati* reports that Musk had joked, "solar and battery go together like peanut butter and jelly. You obviously need the battery, particularly as you get to scale and you want to have solar be a bigger and bigger percentage of the grid. If you don’t have the batteries there to balance the grid and buffer the power, you really can’t go beyond a certain percentage of solar in a particular neighborhood. Maybe you can go up to about 20% solar, but more than that, it starts to unbalance the grid and you need to buffer it, because the energy generation is low at dawn and dusk, it’s high in middle of the day, and it’s at zero during at night. So you [have] got to smooth that out.”
Above: The economics of battery energy storage (Source: RMI)
“You’ll have millions of these batteries, you’ve got to manage that and integrate it with the utility,” said Elon. “I do want to emphasize, there’s still a very important role for utilities here, sometimes people think that this is an either/or thing, it’s like either [solar] rooftops are going to win or centralized generation is going to win and actually both are going to win, because the electricity usage is going to increase dramatically as we transition away from burning old dinosaurs [via gas-powered cars] to electric cars, and then to electric transport, we would see roughly a doubling of electricity consumption as all transport moves to electric.”
Above: Elon Musk and cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive will soon combine SolarCity and Tesla (Source: CleanTechnica)
CleanTechnica reports that comments on this SolarCity earnings call, "added flesh to the bones of Elon Musk’s dream of creating a global solar, storage and EV [electric vehicle] powerhouse, including plans to manufacture and build integrated solar roofing and to target Australia as a key market for cheap and efficient solar and storage." To that end, Australia is a country that is already benefiting from Tesla Energy. In fact, Tesla just released a video showcasing how it's home battery product, the Tesla Powerwall, was having a remarkable impact on one of its Australian customers.
Above: Watch a Tesla Model S and Powerwall owner outline the benefits of combining the Powerwall with solar and integrated software aggregation for control, savings and a change towards a more sustainable future (Source: Tesla)
SolarCity CTO Peter Rive explained, "Tesla is currently operating in over 40 countries, and as we have a presence around the world… we’d love to bring solar solutions to all of those countries – our solar battery solutions. And I think this is particularly powerful in states like Germany and Australia and in many other parts of the world. So, I think there’s a lot of potential to amplify the expansion of sustainable energy generation." Australia remains at the vanguard of these changes. As other countries continue to join this movement, it's clear that change is coming to the energy industry.