Tesla Co-Founder J.B. Straubel Discusses Battery-Powered Future

AUG 23 2018 BY EVANNEX 9


When most people think of Tesla, they think of electric cars. Sure, Tesla is renowned for its leadership in electric vehicle batteries. But, this expertise can also be found in Tesla’s batteries designed for backup energy storage. Tesla’s co-founder and CTO, JB Straubel, recently opened up about his vision for the role of batteries. He sees products like Tesla’s Powerpack as an integral part of clean energy projects moving forward.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Tesla’s JB Straubel (Image: Co-op Think)

Straubel told The Verge, “You know, the electric grid hasn’t changed that much from 100-some years ago when Tesla and Edison were actually inventing it.” But the fossil fuel-powered grid is no longer the only option in places like the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia. Instead, Tesla’s Powerpacks are being deployed along with wind power. The big picture: it’s possible that the fossil fuel-powered grid (e.g. gas and coal-powered plants) could diminish in importance and play a far smaller role in the future.

That said, replacing fossil fuels altogether comes with its own set of obstacles. Simon Alvarez reports (via Teslarati), “It’s still going to take some time before clean energy solutions become capable of adequately supporting the power grid on their own. Renewable energy such as solar and wind, after all, are very promising, but they are not very consistent. Solar power can get compromised on a cloudy day, and wind power can be compromised when there is no wind.”

Above: Tesla’s 100 MW/129MWh Powerpack system at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia (Image: Teslarati)

However, “This is where battery storage comes in. Paired with renewable solutions, batteries such as Tesla’s industry-grade Powerpacks are able to store gathered energy and feed it to the grid when needed. Grid-scale chemical batteries only comprise a small part of the renewable energy market for now, but the use of batteries has been growing over the years.”

Tesla’s Straubel says, “That was kind of unheard of ten years ago. If you told someone that hey, a lithium-ion battery could do that sort of duty, storing solar energy every single day for ten years, they wouldn’t have believed it. I think the biggest thing is scalability. Batteries have this beautiful ability to vary economically, scale from gigawatt-hour-sized systems all the way down to 10 kilowatt-hours in your house.”

Above: Tesla co-founder and CTO, JB Straubel, discusses batteries, the grid, and the future for renewable energy (Youtube: Verge Science)

It’s reported that “As of June 2018, Tesla had deployed a total of 1 GWh of energy storage worldwide, and during the company’s Q2 earnings call, Elon Musk and CTO JB Straubel reaffirmed Tesla’s commitment to growing its energy business over the coming years. Straubel even remarked that it might only be a matter of time before Tesla Energy overtakes the company’s electric car business in size.”


Source: TeslaratiThe Verge

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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9 Comments on "Tesla Co-Founder J.B. Straubel Discusses Battery-Powered Future"

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We spent last Wednesday talking with CA Legislators about the idea of kickstarting home and commercial battery-wall adoption with some tax incentives like they did for solar panels and for EV’s. Let’s keep hope alive. I think many of us would welcome the idea of being able to get in on this as early adopters if there were sort-term incentives (like a 5 year plan) such as a tax write off for moving forward with a battery wall. I’d love to be able to store at least some of what we’re making with our solar panels.

Tesla has built the Powerpack brand, it has a good future.

Again, the cost currently for battery is only good for hours and maybe a day or two at most. For something that is scaled in terms of days and weeks, it is still other form of power.

Of course, if battery can come down in another 3x to 5x in cost, then I think we can install enough of them to back up the grid for days…

x3 to x5? If they come down that much forget about the grid, residential storage will explode…and then the grid may not need as much storage anyway.

Having a certain amount of storage at the user site is beneficial; having *all* storage there is probably not ideal. Long term, we are likely to keep seeing a mixture of grid storage and residential batteries.

Batteries are useful for other things than just power storage. They can help condition the power lines (in milliseconds), they can buffer sources, and they can form micro-grids. By using solar/wind/batteries near they use points (ie your house), the larger grid does not need to be as big (or doesn’t need upgrading), and can be made more efficient.

As much as I’d like to see Tesla crush it and knock this thing out of the part. I’d rather see something like the saltwater battery used in a fixed location application. I’d also like to see molten salt fast breeder reactors used to take over for fossil fuel based power plants.

The “saltwater battery” has such a low energy density, that logistics actually make it too expensive.

Li-Ion is likely to remain dominant for short-term storage applications up to a couple of hours, i.e. load-shifting etc. For longer-term storage, hopefully flow batteries can offer a cheaper option at some point.

Nuclear reactors are even less flexible than fossil plants — so they are entirely useless for complementing renewable generation.

Canada is considering a plan to use small modular nuclear reactors in remote towns to produce not only power, but also hydrogen that would be used for heating and transportation (fueling HFCVs).