Tesla's grid-connected Powerpack station comes online in California

William Gayde

Posts: 376   +5
Staff member

Large scale power storage has long been one of the energy industry's biggest goals. The modern electrical grid works on a completely on-demand system. That is, power plants need to produce all of the energy the grid requires, all of the time. This makes it hard to judge when to bring plants online and when to take others down. Avoiding situations where not enough energy is generated as well as wasting energy is a constant battle.

Today, after just a few months of construction, Tesla has a substation that is growing ever closer to meeting the goal of reliable energy storage. A partnership with Southern California Edison at their Mira Loma substation, the new system can store up to 80MWh and deliver up to 20MW to the grid on demand. That's enough to power 2,500 homes for an entire day. The facility covers 1.5 acres and is divided into two banks of 198 individual Tesla Powerpacks.

All of the units were manufactured at Tesla's Gigafactory and the system is essentially just an industrial sized version of their consumer Powerwall unit. Southern California Edison agreed to the project back in 2016 following a high profile gas well rupture that leaked 1.6 million pounds of methane into the atmosphere.

Future renewable energy sources are inherently unreliable which is one of the reasons they have seen slow adoption. If the sun isn't shining then solar panels won't work and if it's not windy, wind farms won't work either. Efficient energy storage is the best solution to this problem. Electricity generated during low usage times can be stored and pumped back to the grid during peak usage, thus saving everyone money. It's a win-win for everyone involved, so look for many more of these plants to come online in the future.

Photo Credit: Megan Geuss/Ars Technica

Permalink to story.

 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
I've always been interested in renewable energy for home usage but it's a really expensive initial investment cost that will be recovered in the long term (3+ Years), this makes it hard for the average Joe to get into renewable energy. More than the cost of installing (And even some do it yourself make it look really easy to build), it's the cost of batteries that are meant to be used for this type of setups, sure you can use whatever battery you have around but we are talking long term low maintenance system.

I used to live in a place where there was an average temperature of 25C and sunny almost every day, I've always wondered what would happen if the government would help people with programs to install solar water heaters and panels, it would have a great impact in peoples wallet at the end of the month. In a house where 5 people lived, we used to spend an average of $200 per month and a half on gas. That may have easily be cut on half with a sun heater system.
 

yRaz

Posts: 3,419   +2,993
This is pretty cool, the lack of a "smart grid" has been one of the majorbfaxtors limiting renewable energy. I'm interested to see what this means for the energy industry.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,589   +6,106
Three years for break even is actually pretty short for green energy. Solar panels only recently broke the under 20 year payback period; of course as these discoveries come forward the time periods will continue to shorten as the costs drop, but three years ..... that's not bad, not bad at all!
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
Three years for break even is actually pretty short for green energy. Solar panels only recently broke the under 20 year payback period; of course as these discoveries come forward the time periods will continue to shorten as the costs drop, but three years ..... that's not bad, not bad at all!
In Chile electricity and gas prices are really bad, so any savings you can make there are good savings. Consider minimum wage at around US$400 a month or $5000 a year.

Edit: When I was there and looked into sun heating systems for water, they averaged in US$650 + the installation that was around $300 more. If you could cut the gas usage in half for the 5 people house, at about $100 savings every month and a half, or lets round it up to $50 per month, in 18 months you could get back the investment, for solar panels I never did any research, but it's more expensive when it gets into electricity generation.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,286
I wish somebody would tell how things like this should be done to our government owned and run national electrical power grid, in fact they've probably tried and implored them but all they see is a marvelous way to keep on lining their pockets from our dilapidated, autocratic system. If it's not broken for them, why fix it to the benefit of the population and country? It's not as though we don't have the space and we have constant all year around sun to build and utilize solar farms but coal and diesel is still the only method that interests them.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,589   +6,106
I wish somebody would tell how things like this should be done to our government owned and run national electrical power grid, in fact they've probably tried and implored them but all they see is a marvelous way to keep on lining their pockets from our dilapidated, autocratic system. If it's not broken for them, why fix it to the benefit of the population and country? It's not as though we don't have the space and we have constant all year around sun to build and utilize solar farms but coal and diesel is still the only method that interests them.
The only actual power grid owned by the government is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) The remainder are either public utilities or private companies, which are operated as "for profit" so the initiative is to minimize upgrade costs to maximize profits, thus the dilapidated. There is an organized effort by the public utilities to discourage solar power or "selling back" to the suppliers for the same reason. The exceptions there are utilities that are operating solar and wind farms. Unfortunately, in most (but not all) cases where the government tries to operate a utility, the costs go way up and the quality leave much to be desired.
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
Not considering how much more expensive it is to generate on more "green" solutions the amounts that standard plants are able to output.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,286
Not considering how much more expensive it is to generate on more "green" solutions the amounts that standard plants are able to output.
The building and commissioning costs of solar and wind farms is exorbitant but it eventually pays for itself and pays off. Governments are reluctant to let go of the century old way of doing things because by now they're so lucrative and coal is cheap and plentiful here so we sell it to other African countries at high cost but if we're buddies with them, like Zimbabwe, they get it at bargain prices. Eventually things will change, but not for a while yet.
 

Kibaruk

Posts: 3,836   +1,183
The building and commissioning costs of solar and wind farms is exorbitant but it eventually pays for itself and pays off. Governments are reluctant to let go of the century old way of doing things because by now they're so lucrative and coal is cheap and plentiful here so we sell it to other African countries at high cost but if we're buddies with them, like Zimbabwe, they get it at bargain prices. Eventually things will change, but not for a while yet.
Ok so this is out of my simcity experience, the oil and carbon ones generated 6000 KWh and costed about 250 while a solar one costed 600 and generated like 1000KWh (Or something like that) :p
Ok games aside... solar has a direct impact to the area increasing considerably the temperatures, being a danger to wildlife, specially birds, and so on so forth (I've seen some that simply get cooked mid air).
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,286
Ok so this is out of my simcity experience, the oil and carbon ones generated 6000 KWh and costed about 250 while a solar one costed 600 and generated like 1000KWh (Or something like that) :p
Ok games aside... solar has a direct impact to the area increasing considerably the temperatures, being a danger to wildlife, specially birds, and so on so forth (I've seen some that simply get cooked mid air).
Yes but I'm not saying we have to replace all coal and diesel power stations with Solar power, it just not feasible , not just yet but we have the Karoo in the Cape over here which is a vast, practically lifeless desert plain over here and the only thing going on there is sheep farming. Some of that space could be utilized for a solar farm to supply power to all those many little communities. Our magnificent cape vultures are all but extinct due to the fact they build nests on the high tension power lines and wind up frying themselves. A solar farm would go a long way to help remedy that. It's not all about us as man on this planet, although we like to think so. We share this planet with a lot of different life here and it's our duty to help preserve it all and every little bit helps. *Sigh* Unfortunately it's not an ideal world and never will be.