After electric cars and reusable space rockets, the next logical step for Tesla is the energy-storage business. On Thursday, Tesla will unveil its plans to expand the battery pack market for private users, companies, and utilities.
Tesla announced that its battery factory in the vicinity of Reno, Nevada, which is currently under construction, would use 25 percent of its production capacity for battery packs designed to store “stationary” energy. The plant is mainly designed to produce lithium-ion batteries for the company’s line of electric cars.
But critics claim that Tesla’s efforts are set to fail since there is no market for the technology. On the other hand, Tesla officials said in January that the stationary battery market was growing “very quickly.”
The battery packs could be a game-changer because they can store green energy when plenty for later use when scarce. They can be used in homes, at wind farms, and even near power grids.
One of the company’s early adopters is SolarCity Corp, a solar-panel producer, which bought more than 300 battery packs for household use in an attempt to make some savings on the electricity bill of its clients.
Tesla promised that its Nevada-based battery factory, which would start production next year, would lower battery price by up to 30 percent. But until then, they would have to boost public interest in the products.
On the other hand, the company hopes that stationary battery business would compensate some losses if the electric car business fails. The factory can currently make 35 GWh of lithium-ion batteries and 50 GWh of stationary batteries per year.
One potential client for Tesla’s new business is the state of California, which has already experimented with several technologies to store energy generated by power grids, wind farms or solar panels. California lawmakers requested energy industry to make sure that they could store about 1,300 megawatts of energy in nine years’ time.
In Texas, power grids are also equipped with energy storage devices and instruments to tackle disturbances in the electricity flow across lines.
California and other states hold Samsung SDI and LG Chem as their main suppliers of lithium-ion batteries, which help them store and save energy for later use. Advanced Microgrid Solutions and AES have also big plans for the energy-storage business and have closed deals with independent producers for more batteries to be produced.
Cygnus Energy Storage, a new player on the market, negotiates with authorities to supply energy-storage devices for utility poles.All in all, the above mentioned companies hope that as the price would drop more and more contracts would flow.
But until then, all eyes are upon Tesla. Everybody wants to know whether its stationary batteries would be a game-changer or a just witty marketing strategy. People are interested to learn about the batteries’ capacity, their viability, how much they would last and last but not least how much they would cost.
We only know that last year Tesla told California officials that a 5-kilowatt home battery would cost on average about $23,429. Although it looks rather discouraging for private customers, the price could be cut by 40 percent with help from state subsidies or even more via federal tax credits.
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