During the second quarter earnings call, Elon Musk discussed the inherent potential of Tesla Energy. According to the CEO, Tesla Energy has a lot of room to grow simply because the utility sector is far larger than the automotive market. And if Musk’s recent visit to Germany and the company’s recent initiatives are any indication, it appears that Tesla is now testing the waters for a potential push into the country’s energy market.
Tesla has recently acquired a license that would allow it to trade electricity across western Europe. The electric car maker has also been surveying potential customers in Germany about the idea of using Tesla power in their vehicles. As noted in a Reuters report, consultants and energy industry executives believe that these strategies could set the stage for Tesla, perhaps with one or more partners, to expand its business to German’s utility sector. Such a move would be strategic, considering that the country is Europe’s largest power market.
Interestingly enough, the survey that Tesla sent to German customers asked about switching from an existing energy supplier to a new power provider. The questionnaires were sent out about a month after Tesla became a member of the Paris-based EPEX Spot power exchange, a platform utilized to trade intraday cross-border electricity. Questions from the survey, which were retrieved by Reuters, hinted at some of the company’s speculated technologies, such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities for its vehicles.
“What would encourage you to switch from your existing energy supplier?” The survey noted, adding “Would you buy a Tesla photovoltaic system and home storage (Tesla Powerwall) if you could switch to a specially designed Tesla electricity tariff?” The survey also asked if customers would be willing to allow Tesla to control when their vehicles are charged.
Industry executives and consultants noted that such a system could allow the company to coincide charging with cheap electricity rates during off-peak hours. This could also open the doors for Tesla to utilize power gathered by its customers to help balance the power grid, an increasingly important service in Germany as the country starts to embrace more renewable solutions.
Granted, Tesla is only at the first stages of its energy business’ expansion, but the company has taken visible steps towards this goal in recent months. Back in May alone, Tesla applied for a license to supply power in the UK. This application was approved, paving the way for the company’s battery storage products and Autobidder software to test the waters in the UK’s utility sector.
Berthold Hannes, a consultant with 30 years of energy advisory experience, stated that an expansion into the utility sector actually makes sense for a business like Tesla. “The next and obvious step for Tesla is to get into production, especially of renewable power. Tesla could use its own locations, for example, the roofs of plants or the sites of charging points, and alternatively, or in addition, it could take stakes in solar plants or wind parks,” Hannes said.
In the Q2 2020 earnings call, Elon Musk explained that Tesla Energy plays a huge role in the company’s mission to accelerate the world’s shift to sustainability. “Tesla Energy will be roughly the same size as Tesla automotive. The energy business collectively is bigger than the automotive business. So you say like, how big is the energy sector? It’s bigger than automotive. And in order to achieve a sustainable energy future, we have to have sustainable energy generation,” the CEO said.