Tesla forays into utility market with 'Megapack' energy storage solution

Carmaker Tesla has this week launched a new large-scale energy storage offering aimed at helping utilities to reduce costs and drive decarbonisation.

The solution has been designed for compatibility with new and existing solar arrays. Image: Tesla

The solution has been designed for compatibility with new and existing solar arrays. Image: Tesla

The lithium-ion battery solution is called Megapack and is aimed at helping utility businesses to replace gas peaking plants or to overcome the variable outputs of their solar generation assets.

According to Tesla, each Megapack unit will boat up to 3MWh of storage and 1.5MW of inverter capacity. The idea is that the units, which are supplied fully-assembled, can be installed more rapidly (up to ten times as fast) and at a lower cost than most battery storage units – or new fossil-fuel generation facilities of comparable size and capacity.

Moreover, Tesla claims that its solution takes up 40% less space than comparable battery storage solutions, requiring one-tenth of the number of parts typically needed.

One of the first businesses to install a full-scale Megapack array will be PG&E, which is investing in the technology for its Moss Landing project in California. The facility will play host to three energy storage arrays and is designed to act as an alternative to as gas peaking plant, as demand on the local utility grid grows.

Battery boon

The launch of Megapack builds on the success of Tesla’s smaller battery storage solution, called Powerpack. Each of its Powerpack batteries has a storage capacity of 210 kWh and power output at 50kW.

The first large-scale battery project featuring Tesla Powerpacks was completed in December 2017 in Hornsdale, Australia. It is a 100 MW/129 MWh battery system, paired with Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm – a facility which supplies electricity to more than 30,000 homes across the Jamestown region.

Tesla claims that this particular array is currently the world’s largest lithium-ion storage battery and that it saved Neon almost $40m in grid stabilisation and balancing costs within its first year of operation.

The launch of Megapack also falls on the same week that Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published its latest Energy Storage Outlook report, predicting that storage installations are poised for a 122-fold increase between now and 2040. BNEF puts this trend down to increased uptake of renewable energy and electric vehicles (EVs), compounded by falling costs of battery technology.  

Sarah George



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