Engadget Takes Us Inside The World’s Largest Tesla Powerpack Installation – Video

7 months ago by Steven Loveday 32

Tesla and Southern California Edison partnered up on the Mira Loma Tesla Powerpack substation project, to curtail anticipated power shortages in the area. The project went from planning to completion in a respectable six months! Construction only took about 90 days.

TThe Tesla Powerpack made this joint effort by Tesla and Southern California Edison possible.

The Tesla Powerpack made this joint effort by Tesla and Southern California Edison possible.

Tesla CTO J.B. Straubel explained:

“This project is exactly in line with our mission to accelerate sustainable technology and sustainable energy broadly for the world.”

“Storage is a piece that’s been missing on the grid since the grid was invented, so thanks to these technologies, we’re right at the turning point of being able to deliver storage and use renewables — solar, wind, and others — that can power people’s needs for longer parts of the day.”

This massive 20MW/80MWh site uses 396 Tesla Powerpacks and 48 inverters. The system is set up in two 10 megawatt systems that work in tandem. It can push back enough power into the grid to run 2,500 homes for an entire day, or 15,000 homes during a “peak” four-hour period. Straubel added:

“The Mira Loma site can provide the equivalent energy storage of several hundred acres of solar panels … (the facility) is able to to fit into this tight footprint right next to existing substations, and doesn’t really take up any substantial new land.”

“And every piece of this product — the battery, the battery modules, the power electronics, the inverters — was assembled by Tesla workers right here in the US.”

Source: Business Insider

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32 responses to "Engadget Takes Us Inside The World’s Largest Tesla Powerpack Installation – Video"

  1. “And every piece of this product — the battery, the battery modules, the power electronics, the inverters — was assembled by Tesla workers right here in the US.”
    Words that Donald Trump Loves to hear, in his “America First” direction!

    Now, can we get a tiny version, or a version that can do similar things, but small enough for just such things as a Fridge, Computer, etc.

    (My Fridge has used about 35 kWh, in just short of 3 Weeks, so about 12 kWh per Week, or about 1.6 kWh per day, so for a time of use time shift application for this Fridge, 1-2 kWh would be great, and normal use could power my Fridge about 15-30 hours if the Grid failed, even at such a small size!)

    (My Computers, 1 for Wife & 1 for me, will be monitored next, to see how much they use per 4 weeks, starting next Saturday Night, when 4 Weeks are complete on monitoring the Fridge!)

    1. Eco says:

      The Tesla “Power wall” at 14 kWh is for residential and available now.

      1. Absolutely! As you said…”For Residential Use”, which generally means…”Homeowners”, not Condo Owners, or Tenants! Plus, as I said, 2 kWh, and as we know and you mentioned, the Powerwall, is 7X bigger than that, at 14 kWh, hence I suggested a smaller module, at the tiny 2 kWh capacity!

        Something that can just plug in to a wall socket (15 Amp x 110-120V, in USA/CANADA), has a 1,500 to 1,800 Watt inverter, to match the typical Wall Plug power output, simple controls that you can set for lowest cost power, as in, best ‘Time of Use’ Rate, which basically instructs the module to charge during that period, and/or pass any loads during that time, direct to the eall socket/grid during the time it would be charging.

        A small 1 kWh unit might be sufficient for many applications, and a 2 kWh unit, would be about right sized for an inverter of 1.8 kW, since it is likely under 1C load!

        So, for non-House (As opposed to ‘Detached’ or ‘Semi-Detached’, or even ‘Townhouse’ owners), users, a small box (like a computer UPS, but a bit bigger, and not using heavy Lead Acid Batteries), would be closer to my goal.

        If Tesla Energy can sell a 14 kWh box for Homes, at just $5,500 plus about $1,000 to $1,500 to install, could they sell a 2 kWh box at 1/7th, or even 1/6th of the price?

        I can imagine a small 2 kWh module could easily sell at $995.00, and if it had a smart charge controller and inverter to set when to charge and when to cover the loads, they could sell them, about as fast as small companies sell $995.00 Drones, or faster!

        Since the new 2170 cells are said to be about 30% more Energy Dense than the 18650 cells, which are available up to 3.4 Ah from Panasonic, that makes me estimate the new cells at about 4.5 Ah!

        If still @ 3.6 Volts, that = 16.2 Wh per cell. So, 2,000 Wh = about 123.456 or 124 cells. If using a 12V (to 15V) inverter, that would be 4 cells in series X 31 cells in Parallel or about 139.5 Ah. Going to a rounded up 32 cells in Parallel, nets out at 128 cells, and 144.0 Ah for about 2.3328 kWh, for a nice little buffer!

        If the cells weight about 58.5 grams each (45 grams x 1.3), then the 128 cells would weigh about 7,488 grams or 7.5 Kg / ~16.5 Lbs. So a complete package with charger / inverter & smart controller, should be no more than 20 lbs to a max of 25 Lbs! Reasonably portable, I would thing!

        1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

          All you need is…

          Grid Tie inverter(s)
          2S3P LEAF batteries from ebay
          BMS for 4S Li-Ion
          Contactor
          Li-Ion charger for 4S 25A
          Wall timer for battery charger

          Wirem up and your golden!

        2. Doggydogworld says:

          Just hack your refrigerator so the compressor doesn’t run during peak times. Home brewers and such plug into the thermostat circuit but that might be overkill. A timer on the plug should work if you keep fridge and freezer full and/or add some gel packs. The light would be out during peak hours. You could hack that or leave it as a reminder.

        3. Jason says:

          This already exists, it’s called a UPS. Used all the time for computers. Plug it into your power point, plug your device into the UPS. Traditionally they use Lead Acid batteries, but Li are becoming available.

        4. no comment says:

          have you considered the economics of your 2kWh ideas? just looking at the numbers that you have proposed, i think you could be looking at lcoe’s in the $0.40/kWh to $0.90/kWh range. in that event, it is hard for me to see why anyone would have any incentive to buy such a thing.

    2. PresiTweet says:

      Careful! Elon is an immigrant!

      1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

        Legal Immigrant.
        Not sure why you left the “Legal” part out.

        So what’s your point?

        1. unlucky says:

          You meant to say “I’m not sure why you left the…”

          You left out the “I’m”. I’m not sure why.

          Oh wait, it’s because everyone knows its there, it’s implied.

          Same reason for the person you responded to. And indeed the same reason I left out the “This is the” at the beginning of the sentence at the start of this paragraph. Or the reason I left out the “it is” after “indeed” in the second sentence in this paragraph. It is also the reason that I left out “that” between “reason” and “I” in the third sentence in this paragraph.

          They’re all implied. Everyone knows what the speaker means, including you. There is no reason for you to make a feigned discovery about it.

          1. ffbj says:

            Not quite the same grammatically speaking, as one is a modifier. Still in the overall realm of implications you have a point.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5u8aARWAv4

      2. no comment says:

        so is trump’s current wife. some have questioned the extent to which she is “legal”, though.

  2. Alan says:

    They could do with a few of these to compliment the tidal lagoons that are in the planning stage here in the UK.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/12/tidal-lagoons-could-ensure-uk-power-supplies

  3. Scott B. says:

    I’m not taking anything away from Tesla here, but this isn’t the first of it’s kind or that exceptional of an installation. There’s actually a 28 MW system (~15 MWh) just down the road from me, in a very rural part of PA; that was installed a few years ago.

    1. So, a 20MW/80MWh site, is about the same as your 28 MW system (~15 MWh) site?

      First, it seems your example can run at peak power for about 0.5 Hours versus ths one that could run 4.0 hours!

      So, while similar, not the same! Or as some joke: “Same, but Different!”
      :*)

  4. pjwood1 says:

    To the shorts not following along, it isn’t so much the margin at which Tesla gets these done. Its the explosive volume that utilities begin to load balance, and peak, with dispatched storage. A tiny fraction of a 1TW grid is a whole lot of cells.

    1. ffbj says:

      It’s frightening. It has probably been one of the worst plays of all time, shorting Tesla.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Well, since TSLA (Tesla’s stock) is so volatile, there is a lot of potential money to be made in shorting the stock on a short-term basis.

        But shorting it long-term, as apparently all of the serial Tesla bashers posting here are doing?

        As you say, one of the worst investment plays of all time. It’s like these idiots started believing their own constant lies about how Tesla Inc. is supposedly going to collapse any day now!

  5. ffbj says:

    This installation was a response to the leaking gas storage facility in SoCal, Porter Ranch, last year. It took them about as long to cap that leak as it did for Tesla to build this facility.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-15/tesla-wins-utility-contract-to-supply-grid-scale-battery-storage-after-porter-ranch-gas-leak

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Well, that was disappointingly short.

    And personally, I’m not impressed with the installation taking “only” six months. There’s nothing there that looks particularly difficult to build or install.

    Once there was a strip mall which was constructed near where I lived at the time. Every day I drove by it on the way home from work, there was visible progress. The whole thing went up in only a bit over 6 weeks. Now that was an impressively fast job of construction!

    1. energymatters says:

      Comparatively speaking PG&E (in Northern California, takes 12-15 MONTHS just to install some larger wires. 11 months just to install meters in a otherwise completed project) We’ve seen projects take 3-4 YEARS if the Utility is not super-incented to get it done. (ie massively overcharging…)

      1. unlucky says:

        The 94 days only includes the construction time. That doesn’t mean the whole project was only 94 days start to finish. Planning and such takes a lot of time, even for this. If you only count the construction time, how long does it take PG&E to install those wires or a meter?

        You’re comparing apples and oranges.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Okay, that’s a fair cop. The article does quite clearly say “planning to completion”, and I was talking about only the actual construction phase. Six months including planning and regulatory approval does sound relatively quick.

          * * * * *

          Off-topic:

          There was once a PBS documentary series called, simply, “Skyscraper”, which was about building a high-rise building on Manhattan Island. The amount of regulatory red-tape that had to be dealt with, in getting the permits, was absolutely insane, and cause very substantial delays to a very expensive, large-scale project.

          Much of the challenge to in digging any large hole (such as what you need for the basement and foundation of a skyscraper) on Manhattan Island is that the various utility lines (water, gas, electrical, phone, sewer) have been patched and rebuilt so many times that there is no accurate map of those systems. That makes it very difficult for a construction company to get any of the regulatory agencies to sign off on digging a big hole. The construction company kept getting the bureaucratic runaround, being told “No, you need to go to this other department to get approval for that.” No individual department was willing to take the responsibility of giving them a “Yes”.

          Presumably that’s an extreme case. There are very few places on Earth more densely populated, or with more valuable real estate, than Manhattan Island! I wonder if there is a similar problem in downtown Tokyo?

    2. Jim Seko says:

      The construction time ought to be compared to the construction of a natural gas peaker plant not a strip mall

  7. Jim Seko says:

    The end is near for natural gas peaker plants

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      Not unless they reduce battery cost by a factor of 10.

      1. energymatters says:

        The LCoE over useful lifetime is the key figure to compare.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Yeah. I hate to sound negative about Tesla Energy’s market, but I just don’t see lithium-ion batteries being the basis for the future of large-scale energy storage. Surely there’s a better, more economic solution, such as flow batteries.

        Li-ion batteries are a good solution for transportation, where size and weight of the batteries are extremely important. Stationary storage, where weight is unimportant and size is much less important, should have a more economical solution than li-ion batteries.

        Just my opinion, of course. I suppose there is a counter-argument that if li-ion batteries come down in price far enough, then it doesn’t matter if they’re not the optimal engineering solution. In the business world, economics trumps engineering.

        1. Bill Howland says:

          Battery prices are coming down all the time.. Whether Lead-Acid, NiCad, New or used Lithium..

          Also, the ancillary electronics are also decreasing in price and handle mundane details like power factor correction either actively, or by virtue of charging a battery, intrinsically taking care of the capacitive power factor from the larger wind turbines…

          (Of course, the cheaper electronics are also making some of those take care of this issue as well as variable speed operation in certain models).

          My point is there is no one RIGHT WAY to do anything, but batteries now and in the future certainly will be used as an adjunct to photovoltaic Solar and Wind Farms.

          VERY large solar installations will use thermal storage for the forseeable future baring a doubling of solar cell efficiency. Each technology has their place.

          A large WindFarm and a colocated battery ‘buffer’ is much less cost, both FIRST COST and Operational cost, as compared to a large traditional Nuclear Generating Station.

          That will become self-evident in the stream of time.

  8. unlucky says:

    This is all due to AB 2514 (California Assembly bill). There will be many more of these. AES already started one in Long Beach and there is a third too from another company, I forget which. This might be the first one of this size to be completed though.

    1. Malevolence says:

      Actually, even thought it’s a good assumption, AB 2514 isn’t really responsible at all for this project or the other two you’re talking about. This came down from the Governor’s office to (hopefully) prevent rolling blackouts in southern CA this summer when natural gas shortages arrive. These projects would have happened regardless of AB 2514, though 2514 will probably spur additional builds moving forward. Rumor is that the governor even went so far as to tell state agencies to do anything in their power to expedite approvals, otherwise it would have been impossible to complete in the time-frame. Battery storage was the only technology that could potentially be built this fast where needed, period (any new major emissions source would have required CARB/EPA approval, including public comment period, which would have taken too long and natural gas is obviously a non-starter anyway).

      It is by far the biggest project in the US (and probably the world) that I know of (and I’m pretty aware of most projects being currently bid in the US). Most projects have been for frequency regulation up to this point so generally less than 10 MWh of storage and less than 20 MW of power output (the long standing Fairbanks facility excluded). Prices hadn’t (and arguably haven’t quite) dropped low enough to justify use for time-shifting energy, just for “ancillary services.” There are projects in development and construction, and already constructed for time shifting, but they’ve all been projects with extenuating circumstances that could justify a higher price. That’s quickly changing though.

  9. Nix says:

    For the record, this project was delivered on time, on schedule.

    Just like the Tesla Powerwall II was delivered on time, on schedule. And the Tesla Gigafactory began battery production on time, and on schedule.