Sprig Electric Pairs Tesla Powerpack With Solar PV

1 year ago by Mark Kane 29

Sprig Electric installs one of the first Tesla Powerpack commercial batteries at the Sprig Electric headquarters (Image courtesy Sprig Electric)

Sprig Electric installs one of the first Tesla Powerpack commercial batteries at the Sprig Electric headquarters (Image courtesy Sprig Electric)

Sprig Electric

Sprig Electric

Sprig Electric announced one of the first installations of a Tesla Powerpack energy storage system combined with solar installation at its headquarters in San Jose.

The goal for the project is to cut the building’s total energy costs by 80-95%.

Project includes:

  • 350 kW commercial rooftop photovoltaic (1,177 solar panels that are spread over 20,000 square feet of the building’s roof top)
  • 500kWh/250 kW Tesla Powerpack battery system (five blocks 100 kWh each)
  • 250 kW inverter and a DC combiner

According to the press release, during the first 8 wintery days, the combo PV/battery storage system generated 6.7 MWh of energy and saved 4.94 tons of carbon dioxide.

Tesla Energy For Utility Is Infinitely Scaleable

Tesla Energy For Utility Is Infinitely Scaleable

“The Powerpack system maximizes consumption of on-site solar power, avoids peak electrical charges, and facilitates the purchase of energy when it is the cheapest. It acts as an energy storage system for grid power and the photovoltaic system, significantly increasing the utility cost savings that Sprig Electric will realize from using solar electricity alone, thus cutting utility bills by as much as 80-95%.

Customers can use the battery’s stored electricity to reduce peak demand. The batteries are regulated to charge during a low demand period when a surplus of energy is available. They then discharge their stored power when demand is high and the rates are high. This makes for additional savings and lowers the utility bill.

The installation at Sprig Electric headquarters is regulated by a sophisticated control system, which looks at building loads, the amount of energy the panels are producing, and the amount of power that’s stored in the battery. It then shifts power around appropriately based on those conditions.”

Michael Clifton, engineering/operations manager for Sprig Electric’s Energy Efficiency Division said:

“We are extremely happy at how this combo solar system has performed in its first week. We are excited to begin tracking this unique systems’ metrics and ultimately provide alternative energy solutions for our clients and partners alike. We believe the market for battery storage is really going to take off in the coming years.” Clifton said that both rebates and tax credits are available for the battery system purchase.”

“Clifton said Sprig Electric chose to procure the Tesla Powerpack system because of Tesla Energy’s clear lead in battery technology. “Tesla is solid in their battery technology. They use a very sophisticated cooling system that keeps the batteries operating at even temperatures. Their batteries are quite compact, considering the energy within them. We did look at other manufacturers, but those are mostly in the developmental stage.”

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29 responses to "Sprig Electric Pairs Tesla Powerpack With Solar PV"

  1. drpawansharma says:

    Whenever I read such news items, it makes me so happy. I can not even begin to describe my feelings.

    1. lee says:

      the shift is here 🙂

    2. Philip d says:

      I would love to have 20 kW of PV on my roof and a Powerpack in the basement. Test it out for a year, make any needed tweaks and then cut my Georgia Power service.

  2. SparkEV says:

    What’s the initial cost to install, and amortized over expected lifetime cost? Does it cost less than utility?

    Few years ago, it took 6 acres (roughly 260K sq ft) in Carolina for 1 MW of solar. Now it’s 0.5 acres (about 20K sq ft) for 0.35MW, factor of 4 improvement. That’s just wow!

    1. John in AA says:

      I read this paper last year and found it quite interesting. According to their analysis off-grid solar isn’t cheaper than utility in California, yet. Not too far off though. Already cheaper in Hawaii. Of course, this was a projection done back in 2014, so it would be interesting to know how the installed cost measures up.

      Summary and teaser:

      full paper:

      1. Speculawyer says:

        Yeah, California has a very nice net-metering program such that there is economic incentive to install batteries.

        The people that do install batteries are just doing as test systems, collecting incentives, or doing it so they have battery back-up.

    2. Seth says:

      The utility costs and monthly fees that come with any sort of larger grid connections are nothing to be toyed with.

      For example, in the Netherlands a grid connection up to 160kVa is less then 5k euro. But the next step is up to 630kVa and costs 19k euro.

      Up to 2MVA is 36k euro, up to 5MVA is 230k euro.

      Then there’s the monthly tarifs. One of the charges is the highest peak in kW for the month. So if that’s 300kW somewhere in the month, that alone is 300 euros. On top of that are other connection fees.

      And then you still need to actually pay for the consumed power. Yay.

      So yes, you can buy and install this grid buffer (and install some solar while you’re busy) and save quite a serious amount of money without having to get a larger grid connection.

      Getting some of the larger grid connections is also generally a process that takes months, as with these kind of power figures that involves trenching new cable and cutting someone else’s fiber along the way.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Well, the system is in US, so I don’t know how it’d compared against EU. Given that the building was already there with power, I doubt they had to dig for more wires, etc.

  3. Mister G says:

    AWESOME. This is the fossil fuel industries worst nightmare…CHANGE IS HERE

  4. zzzzzzzzzz says:

    It is all great, but I wonder how it will scale up when everybody will do the same removing 80-90% of per kWh bill and grid will be left with 10-20% of current income an obligation still provide full power during this 10-20% of the time? India electric grid (or lack of it), or Nevada rate structures come to mind.

    1. ffbj says:

      You query/analysis is flawed.

    2. John in AA says:

      Clearly the current electric utility business model is not viable within the next few decades. As a contrast to the dystopian examples you offer, though, we can also look at Germany or New York State. The former has – as I understand it – already decoupled the grid power distribution business from the generation of business, each one stands on its own. My understanding is that New York is looking to follow suit. If both grid and generation are priced fairly without cross-subsidy, it seems like it ought to be possible for a level playing field to exist for renewable energy.

      If the field is level, I’m optimistic that grid-tied distributed generation will become the dominant way of getting power. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. On the other hand, if the utilities insist on digging in their heels and pretending the future isn’t coming, then we get a worst-case outcome like Nevada.

      1. John in AA says:

        “generation of business” should read “generation business” of course. I wish you could edit these things.

      2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        Germany got rates up to something like 0.30 EUR/kWh for residential customers. They have higher renewables share than US, but no way close to 100% yet.
        I’m not claiming that renewables are not possible or should not be done. Just that the current grid payment scheme that is mostly per kWh will be forced change, it is not sustainable.

      3. sven says:

        As a NYS resident, I can verify that in NYS the electric power generation business has been decoupled from the electric grid distribution business. It might sound good in theory, but in practice it’s a sh!tshow.

        Very often, numerous times a day when the electric supply momentarily exceeds demand, the marginal price of electricity jumps from $20 per MW to $100, $200, $300, or $400 per MW for a few minutes. This ends up increasing the average cost of electricity for NYS residents.



        1. John in AA says:

          Thanks for the info. Disappointing, though not shocking, that the invisible hand of the free-market fairy didn’t show up and deliver nirvana. 🙁 Still, it seems like decoupling the distribution business from the generation business at least potentially enables a reasonable outcome, even though it doesn’t guarantee it. Necessary, but not sufficient, as the mathematicians say. Having the two of them under one roof virtually guarantees a Nevada-like outcome though, I would think.

          What is the cost of power for retail residential customer in New York anyway? I assume it’s some predictable rate, you’re not buying on the spot market?

          Cool graphs.

          1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

            You can’t really expect grid to take significant amount of electricity at retail price at random times and avoid “spot” retail rates. Or Nevada rates, which basically leads to the same. You can only provide so much incentives (net-metering or whatever) until you run out of other people’s money.

            1. John in AA says:

              I do not understand your point. Also, you seem to be reading a political agenda into my comments that is not there (the “other people’s money” thing).

          2. sven says:

            I’m in NYC which has much higher electric rated than upstate NY. In NYC Con Edision charges an average rate of $0.31/kWh (fluctuates every month) on the regular plan. If you opt for a Time-of-Use plan then in the summer (June to September) you are charged an average rate (it also fluctuates every month) of $1.20/kWh for summer Super-Peak, $0.42/kWh for Peak, and $0.14 for Off-Peak. Winter rates average $0.30 for Peak and $0.14 for Off-Peak. It gets worse, Peak is from 8AM to 12 Midnight, Off-Peak is only from 12 Midnight to 8AM, and the dreaded Super-Peak is 2PM to 6PM in effect Monday through Friday from June 1 to September 30. On top of that you also have to pay a customer charge of $19.87 per month.

            Also, if I get the Time-of-Use Plan and install a solar system, under the Net Zero I can offset my excess solar generated during Peak-rate hours only against Peak-rate electricity usage. So I can’t use my excess solar electricity to offset the charging of my EV after Midnight during Off-Peak rate hours! I’m unsure (waiting for a response) to find out if I can offset excess solar during Peak-rate hours against electricity usage during $1.20/kWh Super-Peak rate hours. Con Edison doesn’t allow any Time-of-Use discussion/answer-questions over the telephone. TOU can be discussed only through email.

            It seems the regular plan is the way to go when I install solar panels, and try to size the system to get to Net Zero electric usage. The Peak and Super-Peak rates on the TOU plan make it too risky.

            To add insult to injury, if I wanted to install a Tesla Powerwall, I am prohibited from installing solar panels! But I can use a Powerwall with a TOU plan to arbitrage the 8AM-Midnight Peak and Super-Peak rates against the Midnight-8AM Off-Peak rates.

            Sorry for venting.



            1. sven says:

              I forgot to mention, the average prices vary monthly because the Con Edison is buying on the spot market, and the momentary spikes in price when demand exceeds supply gets averaged in to the monthly electric rate.

              The monthly prices usually doesn’t vary much, but a couple of winters ago I recall a big spike in electric prices because there was a shortage of natural gas due to insufficient pipeline capacity. The price spike was greater in New England, as NYC was the chock point in the pipeline system.


              1. John in AA says:

                That wasn’t venting, that was extremely interesting information!

                I think we will see more, not less, of this kind of messiness over the next few decades as we (society, markets, government, businesses, etc) grapple with how to put the technological building blocks together into a usable infrastructure. Sometimes it sucks to be in the middle of a revolution. 🙁

                It seems especially bizarre that they DO allow TOU arbitrage with the battery system but don’t allow its use with PV. I don’t get it, although I assume there’s a reason. I would hope there’s nothing (other than economics) preventing you from installing a PV+battery system completely off-grid. I’ve heard that in some areas you are prohibited by code from taking a residence off-grid, but I would guess you could still be nominally on-grid (“see, that lamp over there is grid-tied!”) but have an electrically separate system for PV+battery. However, it’s hard to imagine the economics of off-grid being favorable in NYC, even with the utility rates you cite.

    3. Tech01x says:

      Well, there’s many billions of dollars of investment required to even get close to contemplating that kind of scenario. Plus time.

      It really just means that the existing power plants will run their service life, possibly a little shorter. And investments into new production would change. We are already paying for the grid cost in our utility bills and the change isn’t going to happen so fast that the existing plants just go poof.

  5. Ocean Railroader says:

    If I where a Business or wealthy home owner in the Caribbean I would be a moron not to have something like this in that the Caribbean has hideously strong sun and hideously high power rates made from imported oil powered fuel oil.

    I also think we haven’t seen what can really happen with the demand for these Tesla power walls.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Indeed. Most islands burn diesel for electricity and that is hideously expensive. Solar PV and wind are much cheaper. Hawaii has official said they are going to 100% renewable and it is definitely do able. Lots of solar PV, some battery storage, some pumped hydro storage, some offshore wind farms, and boom . . . 100% renewable. Keep the existing diesel generation around to handle weird corner cases of extended calm winds and clouds.

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        Hawaii is sitting on one of the best green energy source, Geothermal!!!!!

        I am shocked that it hasn’t used Geothermal as backbone power in Hawaii.

  6. Speculawyer says:

    Interesting. I’ve always wondered how much those big commercial buildings did with solar PV and whether they covered their usage. I guess it really depends on what is going on inside the building. If it is heavy manufacturing with heavy electricity usage, it reduces the bill. If it is light usage, it is probably close to break even. If it is something like a warehouse with minimal electric usage, it probably produces more than it uses.

  7. Tyl says:

    I’d like to have a power pack for my solar home. I’m producing extra energy daily. A power wall is too small.
    A power pack has enough storage capacity to fill the car, run the pool, lighting, air conditioning etc. Yes! Many of us are ready to have stand a lone systems at the residential level. It just makes sense.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      You must have one damn big PV array!

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      Just $25,000 and 100 kWh Tesla Powerpack is yours 😉 Or will be available soon. You can ran average US house for about 3 days on it on average. May make sense on some tropical island powered by diesel, or when you need to pay a fortune to connect new construction to power line.
      Here are some basic math for alternatives: