Tesla CTO JB Straubel reveals 1 GWh milestone in energy storage projects

Tesla CTO and co-founder JB Straubel recently revealed that the company’s energy division had hit a milestone — since 2015, Tesla has installed a worldwide total of 1 GWh worth of energy storage. Such a figure is almost half of the total energy storage installed across the world in 2017.

“It’s at a scale now where it’s undeniably making an impact. We see it as absolutely core to our mission as a company of accelerating sustainability. Electric vehicles, where we started, are one critical piece of that puzzle. They’re an enabler for using sustainable energy and transportation, but they need to be linked to an energy generation source.

“We really want to solve this all the way, with a big-picture mindset of truly solving the problem, not just providing someone a piece of the [solution] and then they have to go and figure out how to charge their car sustainably,” Straubel said, according to a Fast Company report.  

Straubel’s statements bode well for Tesla’s energy business. While competitors such as South Korea’s LG and China’s BYD are emerging in the energy storage market, the California-based company has nonetheless established a lead in the emerging industry. Tesla has started the year strong, installing 373 MWh of energy storage projects during the first quarter alone.

Straubel reiterated Tesla’s goal of increasing its energy business threefold this 2018. According to the CTO, however, even if Tesla manages to scale its energy business 300% this year, transitioning the world to sustainable energy will still take a considerable amount of time. Ultimately, Straubel called on other energy companies to get involved.

“Even at 300%, we’ll need to grow it this way for decades, frankly, to really solve the problem. And not just us, but other companies need to get involved, too,” Straubel said.

Tesla’s energy business could very well be the dark horse of the Elon Musk-led company. While discussing the South Australia Powerpack farm near Jamestown during the company’s Q1 2018 earnings call, Musk teased that he is confident that Tesla would be able to announce a “gigawatt-hour scale deal within a matter of months.” Such a project would positively affect Tesla’s earnings, considering that its energy storage initiatives have so far proven to be lucrative.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Tesla’s 129 MWh Powerpack farm in SA earned $1 million in a few days back in January. Tesla’s 10-Q form for Q1 2018 also revealed that Tesla Energy’s revenue for the first quarter reached $410 million, a 92% increase from Q1 2017. Perhaps more importantly, however, the 10-Q form also provided the first real glimpse into how much revenue Tesla can gain from its large energy projects. Below is an excerpt from Tesla’s 10-Q form for Q1 2018.

“Energy generation and storage revenue increased by $196.1 million, or 92%, in the three months ended March 31, 2018 as compared to the three months ended March 31, 2017, predominantly due to increase in Powerpack and Powerwall deliveries as well as $72.5 million revenue related to the South Australia battery project.”

Tesla’s big battery near Jamestown is but the tip of the iceberg for the company’s energy initiatives. Currently, Tesla is in the process of rolling out the first phase of its proposed 50,000-strong virtual power plant comprised of solar panels and Powerwall 2 batteries in Australia. Elon Musk also revealed that Tesla has about 11,000 ongoing energy storage projects in Puerto Rico, where the company is helping the island nation get back on its feet after getting hit by Hurricane Maria last year. If Tesla does announce a 1-GWh scale energy storage project in 2018, Elon Musk’s prediction that the company would be profitable by Q3 or Q4 2018 becomes even more plausible.

Tesla CTO JB Straubel reveals 1 GWh milestone in energy storage projects
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