American electric carmaker Tesla Motors appears to have gone into something different other than producing electric cars. It seems that the company has also ventured into power generation and some analysts think it is a showcase of the capability of the company in generating energy for homes.
Reports have it that a huge Tesla-installed power storage facility is now up and running at Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California, reports The Verge.
Apparently, the facility holds enough energy to power 15,000 homes for four hours, which is equivalent to 80 megawatt-hours of electricity with a peak output of 20 megawatts.
The power storage facility is designed to reduce the need for peaker plants, which are electricity generation facilities that run when electricity demands are particularly high, such as on a hot afternoon when air conditioners are running full steam.
These facilities are also very expensive to install and maintain, especially when in some areas they might only be used for a few hours a day or even in a year.
Own general contractor
Tesla actually acted as its own general contractor for SCE and the company installed 396 Powerpacks to take on the project. The Powerpacks were all assembled at the company’s Gigafactory in Nevada, notes Yahoo Tech!
Though 80 megawatt-hours of batteries might seem like a lot, it’s the same amount of battery capacity that the company puts into its cars in just three or four days of production.
The SCE facility at Mira Loma has 396 Powerpacks, each with 16 pods of batteries inside. Each pod has 12 bricks of cells, and each brick has 85 battery cells.
By adding them all up and it’s 6,462,720 individual “2170” battery cells, so named because they’re 21 x 70mm cylinders.
In addition to utility-grade storage systems, Tesla’s Powerpacks can also be used with solar panels or other small-scale electricity generation to build microgrids, small electrical systems for entire islands or other remote facilities.
A potential big business for Tesla
It seems that the company has realized that stationary energy storage has the potential to be big business.
Whether for big utilities like its pilot project in Southern California, as an alternative to diesel-generator backup systems at commercial or industrial buildings, or by using Tesla’s smaller Powerwall system at residences, it should be expected that the number of big battery installations will also grow.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted last year that the battery business would have a growth rate probably several times that of what the car business is per year.
While the majority of the battery production at the Gigafactory, which began last month, will eventually make its way into Tesla’s cars, the massive cell production will also drive down costs for stationary battery storage as well, making these sorts of enormous battery projects much more cost effective.
Stationary batteries and the solar panel business are at the core of Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity last year. They are just two of the reasons why Tesla Motors changed its name to Tesla because it is not just about cars anymore.
However, the priority of Tesla, for the time being, still remains the release of its first mass-production vehicle, the Model 3, later this year
It should be noted that the Beta prototypes of the Tesla Model 3 have yet to be unveiled by the company which is why fans are still waiting for its unveiling.
It is possible that Tesla would release another Beta prototype of the Tesla Model 3 before officially unveiling the main concept or design, which could happen shortly thereafter. Thus, speculations are rife that Tesla could unveil a prototype in the first quarter of this year.
In his January 4, 2017 visit to the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada for an investor event, Musk said that it would be good for fans to just wait for new announcements regarding the Tesla Model 3.