Tesla to reportedly connect massive battery storage to Texas power grid this summer

nanoguy

Posts: 742   +12
Staff member
In brief: Elon Musk's latest secret project is a large grid battery in Texas designed to increase its electrical grid stability. And while it's not the first nor the only grid storage system Tesla has ever built, this could be a boon for the company's ambition to become a decentralized electric utility.

Tesla's energy business grew 200 percent year-over-year in Q4 2020, and the company deployed a whopping 1,584 MWh of energy storage over those three months. Elon Musk's dream is to see Tesla Energy become a distributed global utility that will eventually outgrow the automotive business. To that end, the company has pushed hard for the adoption of its Powerpack and Megapack installations.

Slammed by several electrical outages last month by a record-breaking hard freeze, millions of Texans experienced one of the disadvantages of the state's independent electrical grid. The winter storm exemplified the need to connect to other US electrical grids and reform grid management practices in preparation for future extreme weather events.

According to a Bloomberg report, Tesla created a subsidiary registered as Gambit Energy Storage LLC to silently build a 100-megawatt energy storage system in Angleton, Texas. It's essentially a large battery array designed to power 20,000 homes on a hot summer day. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is evaluating a proposal to start commercial operation by June.

For years, Musk has been interested in expanding into residential energy storage. In 2015, he proudly announced the Powerwall, a home battery system that has yet to make a real dent in the market despite being available for years in select Tesla-branded Home Depot selling spaces. While the Gambit project is not the first grid energy storage system built by Tesla, it shows its commitment to the energy business just as much as it is to the electric vehicle business.

In 2017, Tesla unveiled a 100-megawatt grid storage system built in South Australia to store the surplus electricity generated by a wind farm. The company's Powerpack and Megapack systems for utility storage have been in use for years near substations and in small towns, saving millions of dollars in the process. Those are relatively small systems, but Tesla and PG&E are currently building a 182.5-megawatt system at an electric substation in the San Francisco Bay Area, which could become operational by the end of this summer.

Image credit: Bloomberg

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Dimitriid

Posts: 390   +675
Not saying this isn't a good advancement but you know what else kind of works great to make sure a power grid is not very susceptible? Redundancy, like the one afforded by having interconnection to the rest of the national grid system.

Seriously there's just not a good reason why February 2021 needed to happen in Texas other than this ridiculous need to have Texas be just a literal island and not cooperate with all other power grids from other states which is the sensible thing to do.
 

yRaz

Posts: 3,606   +3,526
Not saying this isn't a good advancement but you know what else kind of works great to make sure a power grid is not very susceptible? Redundancy, like the one afforded by having interconnection to the rest of the national grid system.

Seriously there's just not a good reason why February 2021 needed to happen in Texas other than this ridiculous need to have Texas be just a literal island and not cooperate with all other power grids from other states which is the sensible thing to do.
I would argue that adding a megapack to the power grid is adding redundancy. What difference does it make if the electricity comes from a battery or a second powerplant?
 

dob_1

Posts: 79   +46
Seriously there's just not a good reason why February 2021 needed to happen in Texas other than this ridiculous need to have Texas be just a literal island and not cooperate with all other power grids from other states which is the sensible thing to do.
I understand that the reason Texas stands alone has to do with some US Federal Taxes that come into play if Texas links to another state - and the Texans don't want to pay the extra money to the Feds!

The battery in South Australia that Elon Musk built in 2017 is said to have already saved the consumers of that state millions because it stores when wholesale energy prices are low and feeds back into the grid when prices go high so overall consumers are charged less. It has also apparently helped prevent blackouts by supporting the grid when power stations break down until backup generators can be brought on line.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 404   +562
I understand that the reason Texas stands alone has to do with some US Federal Taxes that come into play if Texas links to another state - and the Texans don't want to pay the extra money to the Feds!

The battery in South Australia that Elon Musk built in 2017 is said to have already saved the consumers of that state millions because it stores when wholesale energy prices are low and feeds back into the grid when prices go high so overall consumers are charged less. It has also apparently helped prevent blackouts by supporting the grid when power stations break down until backup generators can be brought on line.
This is the most accurate take. Batteries are not energy generation, but store both backup power for stabilization and provide peak load balancing. It can solve high demand or low supply of energy by taking advantage of low demand or extra supply. And it works with immediate responses to grid issues with very little manual labor, so it becomes cheap and smart as a grid energy component.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,320
I would argue that adding a megapack to the power grid is adding redundancy. What difference does it make if the electricity comes from a battery or a second powerplant?
Well, largely because the battery pack has to siphon its power off the primary grid in the first place.

As for Musk's, "megapack", temporary power for 20,000 homes, a does not a secondary power grid for half a state make.

The "Lone Star State", needs to put on its big boy pants, and secede from the union altogether. That way, they can, "keep their cowboy hats screwed on real tight in case they get in a fight", and continue to wander around, "Enron land", for the rest of eternity, or until Armageddon arrives, whichever comes first.

Plus, secession would have the added benefit of being able to crown that block headed imbecile Ted Cruz, "emperor of Tejas". "Ave Cruzperator, moritori te salutan". :rolleyes:

Please note I'm using "moritori", (those who are about to die), in the figurative sense meaning, "those of of us who are about to do without light, heat, food, and water", salute you.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,320
Elon Musk's latest secret project is a large grid battery in Texas designed to increase its electrical grid stability. And while it's not the first nor the only grid storage system Tesla has ever built, this could be a boon for the company's ambition to become a decentralized electric utility.
OK, by the time an article hits Techspot news, I think it's hardly fair to call it a "secret".
For years, Musk has been interested in expanding into residential energy storage.
As for Musk's "ambitions", I think they're pretty much the same as any other sociopathic demagogue's, he wants all of everything.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 390   +675
I understand that the reason Texas stands alone has to do with some US Federal Taxes that come into play if Texas links to another state - and the Texans don't want to pay the extra money to the Feds!

I am aware that's the reason, among others. In my opinion it's just not a good reason: taxes have a purpose and so does regulations that would come into play if they were interconnected. For example, they would help avoid the very thing that happened to the state.

To go any further would be to much into politics for a tech forum so I'll leave it has this "Less taxes, less government" desire many Libertarians so staunchily defend is meaningless without a viable alternative, something Texas clearly did not and does not offer for the power grid issues.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,320
To go any further would be to much into politics for a tech forum so I'll leave it has this "Less taxes, less government" desire many Libertarians so staunchily defend is meaningless without a viable alternative, something Texas clearly did not and does not offer for the power grid issues.
The topic of politics IMHO, can't be avoided when discussing the cost of utilities.

I live in PA, where we have an abundance of companies vying for the right to sell you electricity,. The thing is, we also have enough governmental regulation to keep them honest.

During the first cold winter, the people who had chosen "variable rate plans", found out the true meaning of what they had signed up for. Those who normally expected a $300.00 bill, got hit with at least triple that. The government and local news stepped in and said, (pretty much), "listen up you m0r0ns, don'r sign up for variable rate plans, because you can expect sh!t like this to happen". Then, they booted those suppliers from the state.

Anytime you have this price gouging abuse, you can be certain that politicians in the area are getting plenty of free lunches and campaign contributions. If not for the perks, why would anybody get into politics in the first place? (Well, except maybe to sate their massively overinflated egos and narcissism.

My local supplier PECO, is good enough that its largely driven out alternative suppliers from ts domain. There use to be legions of salespeople banging on the door day and night, then they took to the phones, then to junk mail, but you simply don't hear from them anymore.

Since PECO doesn't generate the bulk of electricity every 3 months, they're obligated to give you a full breakdown of the individual charges on your bill. The cost per kilowatt hour doesn't change more than a few hundredths of a cent, from quarter to quarter.

And consider this, Pennsylvania has managed all this, without the help of Elon Musk.
 
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Dimitriid

Posts: 390   +675
The topic of politics IMHO, can't be avoided when discussing the cost of utilities.

I live in PA, where we have an abundance of companies vying for the right to sell you electricity,. The thing is, we also have enough governmental regulation to keep them honest.

During the first cold winter, the people who had chosen "variable rate plans", found out the true meaning of what they had signed up for. Those who normally expected a $300.00 bill, got hit with at least triple that. The government and local news stepped in and said, (pretty much), "listen up you m0r0ns, don'r sign up for variable rate plans, because you can expect sh!t like this to happen". Then, they booted those suppliers from the state.

Anytime you have this price gouging abuse, you can be certain that politicians in the area are getting plenty of free lunches and campaign contributions. If not for the perks, why would anybody get into politics in the first place? (Well, except maybe to sate their massively overinflated egos and narcissism.

My local supplier PECO, is good enough that its largely driven out alternative suppliers from ts domain. There use to be legions of salespeople banging on the door day and night, then they took to the phones, then to junk mail, but you simply don't hear from them anymore.

Since PECO doesn't generate the bulk of electricity every 3 months, they're obligated to give you a full breakdown of the individual charges on your bill. The cost per kilowatt hour doesn't change more than a few hundredths of a cent, from quarter to quarter.

And consider this, Pennsylvania has managed all this, without the help of Elon Musk.

As long as you don't mind going into politics....What you're describing here works better I will give you that, but it's still fundamentally trying to patch out a broken system, for profit utility delivery, by being very heavy handed.

You know what would work better? If such a fundamental basic need as electricity (And other utilities) were never in need of patching and heavy regulation because we decided it's too important to let people trying to have a profit motive whatsoever: A nationalized production and delivery would work better and the only reason it gets such a bad rep it's because of how many publicly owned operations get intentionally de-funded and sabotaged to make room for private interests to come in.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,320
As long as you don't mind going into politics....What you're describing here works better I will give you that, but it's still fundamentally trying to patch out a broken system, for profit utility delivery, by being very heavy handed.

You know what would work better? If such a fundamental basic need as electricity (And other utilities) were never in need of patching and heavy regulation because we decided it's too important to let people trying to have a profit motive whatsoever:
Well uh, aren't those Texas power companies supposed to be NPOs? Because that's what you're describing

A nationalized production and delivery would work better and the only reason it gets such a bad rep it's because of how many publicly owned operations get intentionally de-funded and sabotaged to make room for private interests to come in.
You Socialist left wing devil, you...:p

You can't separate people from their instincts, basic nature, or ulterior motives.

Sic: Doctors go to school because they grew up "just wanting to help people",(as long as they get to live in a million dollar house along the way).

True Altruism is as rare as plutonium, or closer to the farm, hen's teeth.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 390   +675
You can't separate people from their instincts, basic nature, or ulterior motives.

Sic: Doctors go to school because they grew up "just wanting to help people",(as long as they get to live in a million dollar house along the way).

True Altruism is as rare as plutonium, or closer to the farm, hen's teeth.

The default is to assume that competition goes hand in hand with evolutionary forces. But there's been studies and analysis suggesting that on nature, mutual aid is just as common and viable as a factor for evolution.

But regardless of all that, we know public or state controlled grids work because well, they work for many other countries and even from a capitalist stand point, infrastructure and utilities are such a fundamental requirement for everyone to do business is a good idea to eliminate it as a market force anyway to level the playing field for everybody so even following strictly capitalist logic, unless you are a free market absolutist, common ownership of strategic means of production it's still desirable.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
No doubt there are advantages but let's remember that Texas has more than it's fair share of Tornado's, Flooding, and now snow stores and freezing spells ...... I certainly hope he had enough sense to take that into account and design for it.
 

netman

Posts: 624   +247
Musk kept warm in his house in Texas after the snow storm power outage this winter by connecting his batteries to his home power grid.... Now he want to connect to the state grid...! Hasn't he missed warm sunny California..?!
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,320
Musk kept warm in his house in Texas after the snow storm power outage this winter by connecting his batteries to his home power grid.... Now he want to connect to the state grid...! Hasn't he missed warm sunny California..?!
You completely missed the point, as well as his objectives.

Musk wants to swoop in like he's going to be the savior of the Texas electrical grid, sell them his batteries, and make billions of dollars doing it.

He's a lecherous, opportunistic, a**hole.

Rest assured, Musk has no intention of "connecting to the Texas power grid. He could put up solar panels, batteries, even a windmill, and write it off a a "business expense" or even a loss. I would think he's more concerned if he can't get power to run his Tesla factory

Anybody with an IQ over 80 should be able to figure out that batteries go dead, and they're supposedly going to be charging off the very grid system that failed.

Even if people had battery backup, they wouldn't have nearly enough to ;last the more than a week that the power was out in Texas.

Think about it. You people keep whimpering for bigger batteries in those stupid cell phones, so you won't have to charge them more than once a day.

And here's Musk's point of leverage, "I built a factory here in Texas, so you should buy all my batteries". (As he takes that deep dive back into Taxpayer's pockets)
 
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You completely missed the point, as well as his objectives.

Musk wants to swoop in like he's going to be the savior of the Texas electrical grid, sell them his batteries, and make billions of dollars doing it.

He's a lecherous, opportunistic, a**hole.

Rest assured, Musk has no intention of "connecting to the Texas power grid. He could put up solar panels, batteries, even a windmill, and write it off a a "business expense" or even a loss. I would think he's more concerned if he can't get power to run his Tesla factory

Anybody with an IQ over 80 should be able to figure out that batteries go dead, and they're supposedly going to be charging off the very grid system that failed.

Even if people had battery backup, they wouldn't have nearly enough to ;last the more than a week that the power was out in Texas.

Think about it. You people keep whimpering for bigger batteries in those stupid cell phones, so you won't have to charge them more than once a day.

And here's Musk's point of leverage, "I built a factory here in Texas, so you should buy all my batteries". (As he takes that deep dive back into Taxpayer's pockets)
I live in Houston. Nobody I know went without power for more than 3 days. The problem is that our homes were not designed to stay cold this long.
 
Lives in Houston, every person I know has natural gas going to their home and most of those have natural gas fireplaces. the problem is that half the people have grown lazy. One neighbor was sitting in the cold as his fireplace would not start without the button on the wall that was dead. I used a match a started the fire for him. Most of our problems were cause laziness, not willing to adapt, ignorance and our homes were not designed to be cold for that long. I was without power for 36 hours. fireplace kept house at 70 degrees and generator ran 2 fridges, TV and internet. and a few lamps
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,520   +5,320
I live in Houston. Nobody I know went without power for more than 3 days.
OK, three days is an eternity, relatively speaking. Musk is claiming 12 hours for 20,000 homes for one of his batteries. So, even if you were under the protection of one of these, that would still leave you with 2 1/2 days to fend for yourself,
The problem is that our homes were not designed to stay cold this long.
Well, new construction should have higher standards for thickness of insulation. That's because insulation is just as effective at keeping cold air in. And with the high summer heat in your neck of the woods, that would save cooling costs in the summer. Besides, one thing walls full of fiberglass do well, exclusive of temperature control, and that's to suppress noise.
Lives in Houston, every person I know has natural gas going to their home and most of those have natural gas fireplaces. the problem is that half the people have grown lazy. One neighbor was sitting in the cold as his fireplace would not start without the button on the wall that was dead.
That sort of goes to the old saying, "you can't fix stupid".
I was without power for 36 hours. fireplace kept house at 70 degrees and generator ran 2 fridges, TV and internet. and a few lamps. So, you're making my case for not handing over billions of dollars to Musk for batteries, for me.
The evening news had me believing the outages were more dire than that. Perhaps they were in some areas.

Still, as I said, 3 days is an eternity. Having a generator is a good thing. However, if the outage is general, the gas stations wouldn't be able to pump more gas for you when your stash ran out. There are safety and practicality issues with keeping enough gasoline in the home to ran a generator for 3 days.

Modern building codes may not have caught up with the reality of climate change. Due to the extreme cold,I do know that when you get up into Minnesota and the Dakotas, at least 12' of glass in the roof is mandatory. But yet, you never hear of them having statewide outages. (Granted, those states are a great less populous than Texas)..