Tesla and Utilities

What do companies do once they’ve conquered their industry? Move to a different industry, of course.  After its launch in 2003, Tesla Motors quickly became a force to be reckoned with.  With the tremendous success of the Roadster and the Model S, Tesla became known for its impressive technology in energy efficient vehicles.  Now it is attempting to become a major player in energy efficient homes.

Solar power is nothing new, but being able to successfully and inexpensively store the energy produced by those panels is slowly becoming a reality.  Tesla is working on a battery pack that can be used in conjunction with solar panels.  Users can produce energy when the sun is shining, store it, and then use it at night when the sun goes down.  It’s genius!

Tesla’s lithium ion batteries have the potential to change the energy industry forever.  “If it can be a leader in commercializing battery packs, investors may never look at Tesla the same way again,” explains Morgan Stanley Analyst Adam Jonas.  “If Tesla can become the world’s low-cost producer in energy storage, we see significant optionality for Tesla to disrupt adjacent industries.”

For this to work, Tesla would have to increase the production of these batteries in order to sell them at a price consumers can afford.  Plans of a $5 billion, 10 million-square-foot “gigafactory” are being discussed to do just that.  “The scale of Tesla’s battery production, even for its own use as an auto manufacturer, thrusts the company into ‘key player’ status for grid storage,” said Jonas.

With the capability to store enough energy to power an average home for three and a half days, this battery will be a hot ticket item.  Storing extra energy would be a tremendous help to homeowners in areas where the price of electricity is extremely high, like Hawaii.  This technology will bring customers lower energy bills and a bit of freedom from local utilities and the grid.  They might even have the opportunity to sell electricity back to the grid for a small profit. 

“If you can get batteries cheap enough and combine them with solar panels, you no longer need the utility,” states Navigant Analyst Sam Jaffe.  He predicts the cost would have to decrease by more than 70 percent in order for these batteries to make sense for homeowners.

While this entire project remains in-the-works, there is rumor that Tesla will partner with Panasonic, which is already an investor and its main supplier.  If these two powerhouse companies do end up working together, the energy industry better get ready for an epic transformation.

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