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Tesla is subtly building a giant battery to support Texas’ power grid

(Credit: Tesla)

It appears that Tesla is silently expanding the reach of its energy business into Texas’ energy sector, which was battered recently amidst unusually cold weather. As per recent reports, a Tesla subsidiary registered as Gambit Energy Storage LLC is currently building a 100MW-plus battery storage system in Angleton, Texas, about 40 miles south of Houston. The massive utility-scale battery will be connected to the same grid that failed during the past month’s freeze. 

Despite being built through a subsidiary, the 100MW battery in Angleton could be considered as Tesla’s first notable foray into Texas’ mainstream energy sector. Quite interestingly, the project almost seemed like it was being built in secret, as workers at the site reportedly kept equipment hidden and onlookers were discouraged. However, the presence of Tesla logos on a worker’s gear and several public documents have linked the project to the Elon Musk-led company, as per a Bloomberg report. 

The 100MW battery storage system currently being built by Gambit is registered with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which Elon Musk ironically called out on Twitter during the state’s power difficulties last month. ERCOT senior director of system planning Warren Lasher has noted that the battery system, which is being built adjacent to a Texas-New Mexico Power substation, has a proposed commercial operation date of June 1, 2021

The 100MW big battery in Angleton stands as one of the latest large-scale projects of Tesla Energy. Tesla’s solar and battery storage division does not typically attract as much news coverage as the company’s flashier electric car business, but company executives such as Elon Musk have highlighted that Tesla Energy can become as big, if not bigger, than the company’s EV branch. “I think long-term Tesla Energy will be roughly the same size as Tesla Automotive. The energy business is collectively bigger than the automotive business,” Musk said. 

While Tesla Energy is yet to recapture Solar City’s previous place in the US residential solar segment and the Powerwall home battery remains production constrained, the company’s grid-scale energy storage units, the Powerpack and Megapack, have seen resounding success. Powerpacks serve as the backbone of the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, for example, and Megapacks are currently being used for high-profile projects such as the highly-anticipated Moss Landing battery

Daniel Finn-Foley, head of energy storage at Wood MacKenzie Power and Renewables, highlighted Tesla’s standing in the energy sector in a statement. “Tesla’s energy storage business on a percentage basis is growing faster than their car business, and it’s only going to accelerate. They are absolutely respected as a player, competing aggressively on price,” he said. 

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Tesla is subtly building a giant battery to support Texas’ power grid
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