Tesla in Australia 2018/2019 – Facts & Figures

Tesla have announced their Q2 earnings which notes that they have a ‘crazy’ growth outlook despite cell shortage and a slow deployment of their solar roof. Tesla in Australia is still very far behind the USA, but what can we expect the future to bring?

Tesla in Australia – 2018/19

What can Australians expect from Tesla over the next financial year? We’ve had an agonisingly slow rollout down under and there are many people waiting to see how long it takes for the solar roof to make its way out here.

With the cell shortage that has crippled availability of the Tesla Powerwall 2 in Australia, is it worth waiting for the Powerwall 3 instead? There hasn’t been any announcement yet so it really depends on your personal situation. 

The Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York is in working on speeding up production of the Solar Roof. They hope to produce 1 GW of solar products at the site annually beginning in 2019, and Tesla has said that it could even reach 2 GW/year down the track. The Gigafactory produces standard solar panels, along with the Solar Roof.

So if you have a bit of patience and are happy to wait until 2019, it’s fine to wait. Solar batteries still have a bit of a ways to go before they are a no-brainer for people to install, let alone the solar roof. But in the meantime, there are certainly solar roof alternatives like the Tractile solar roof tile or the Sonnen/Bristile partnership which they’ve called ‘Solartile‘. Have you got any questions or any experience with any of these solar shingles? Please let us know in the comments. 

Where is the Tesla Solar Roof?

Tesla in Australia - Solar Roof via @Toblerhaus on Twitter
Tesla in Australia – Tesla Solar Roof 2018 Installation (California) (source: @Toblerhaus on Twitter)

We’ve written about the Tesla Solar Roof before – and we’ve also written about its place in the Australian ecosystem, given that they’re rare as hen’s teeth in America, let alone over here. According to PV Magazine USA, it’s probable that the Tesla Solar Roof will not help their bottom line (Energy Generation and Division Revenues) until halfway through 2019 at the earliest. The reasons for this are for safety and the time lag it’s taking to get all their ducks in a row.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk clarified:

“It takes a while to confirm that the Solar Roof is going to last for 30 years and all the details work out, and we’re working with first responders to make sure it’s safe in the event of a fire and that kind of thing. So it’s quite a long validation program for a roof which has got to last for 30, 40, 50 years, but we also expect to ramp that up next year at our Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. That’s going to be super exciting.”

According to Musk ‘several hundred’ Solar Roofs have been deployed, are being installed or scheduled for install, and international expansion (i.e. Australia!) is slowly rolling out.

PV Magazine have also written about some of the first solar roof installations in the USA – please click here to read some more about them.

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South Australian Virtual Power Plant Launched

Tesla’s South Australian Virtual Power Plant has begun deployment, with the first 100 Powerwalls combined with a 5kW solar array rolling out across a group of South Australian households this month. This rollout is in conjunction with the Household Storage Subsidy Scheme in South Australia.

South Australian Virtual Power Plant

South Australian Virtual Power Plant Tesla
South Australian Virtual Power Plant Tesla (source: Tesla / YouTube)

Housing SA are working with Tesla to install the distributed Powerwall tech which is going to start with a focus on public housing and will end up with arrays and Powerwalls/other batteries (read on to learn about the Household Storage Subsidy Scheme) on up to 50,000 homes. 

Another 1,000 South Australian households will have the Tesla batteries installed before July 2019, but potentially ‘in a few weeks’, according to Electrek. Lots of different figures floating around right now so we’ll update you as we hear more.

It’s actually quite similar to the 100MW / 129MWh Powerpack project in that the whole system will help stabilise the grid and provide a strong baseload of power so we don’t see the blackout issues South Australia suffered through in 2016. In this case it’s not one big project, however – many homes working together will decrease cost of electricity and ensure grid stability improves (and continues to). 

There’s also a separate scheme for other battery subsidies – underwritten by the $100 million Household Storage Subsidy Scheme. The push to help renters and low-income earners enjoy the benefits of solar has been fantastic and we’re excited to see some stats and results after the estimated 40,000 SA households receive on average $2,500 each. Please note that this particular scheme is for people who already have solar power installed and want energy storage as well and is not related to the Tesla virtual power plant.

You can watch a video Tesla released about the South Australian Virtual Power Plant – it’ll explain what the plan is and what we can expect to see next from SA and Tesla!

There’s also a video on Twitter from Nine News Adelaide where the current (Liberal) SA state government seem happy to take credit for this scheme (which was totally organised under the previous (Labor) government). Bit of an eye-roll, but then again it’s par for the course for our beloved Australian politicians.

Regardless of that, the tenant in this video had a $500+ bill for electricity every quarter, which has been reduced to $175 since having the solar system installed. So those are some fantastic numbers!

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SA Tesla Battery Plan – Election Fallout

The future of the SA Tesla Battery plan brokered between Elon Musk’s Tesla and Jay Weatherill’s is on unstable footing after the results of Saturday’s state election in South Australia, seeing Weatherill’s party defeated by the Liberals. But will it make much of a difference? How will the new party serve SA’s rapidly growing renewable energy industry?

SA Tesla Battery Plan
SA Tesla Battery Plan Future? Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk in happier times (source: SA Labor Facebook)

SA Tesla Battery Plan – What Now?

The incumbent Labor party, headed up by Jay Weatherill, lost to the Liberal party on Saturday night after 16 years of rule in South Australia. The new premier is Steven Marshall who seems quite keen on continuing the Labor party’s work on growing renewable energy in the state.

ABC Radio National Breakfast’s Fran Kelly asked Marshall about the plan to equip housing trust properties with Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries, and Mr Marshall said: “That’s not part of our agenda. Our agenda is 40,000 homes.” However, when pressed about the specifics at a later date, Marshall was a (little) more clear on the Liberals’ plans:

“We don’t know where that is but any contracts the [previous] government’s entered into — we’ll be honouring them, there’s no doubt about that. Any other items that they flagged during the election, we’re happy to look at it but we’ve got our own energy policy agenda and we’ll be rolling that out as a priority.”

We wrote earlier this year about the South Australian solar loan program which both parties had different versions of a renewable energy push for the state – Labor were offering $100m for solar loans in South Australia. Up to 10,000 South Australian homeowners could access up to $10,000 for loans for solar panels, batteries, or both – with the loans interest free for the first 7  years. There was talk of the solar batteries offered in this scheme to be 100% manufactured by Tesla. 

In contrast Steve Marshall’s Liberals had the same amount of expenditure – on a bigger scale, with a smaller amount per household – their $100m plan was to provide grants of $2,500 per household for 40,000 dwellings. Mr Marshall argued at the time that 10,000 households was not enough to ‘shift the dial’, speaking about the rapidly increasing cost of electricity. The Liberals haven’t mentioned Tesla specifically and Marshall doesn’t have the same close relationship as Weatherill had with the enigmatic Elon Musk – but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Marshall is clearly keen to move forwards on renewable energy and whether he chooses Tesla or one of the Powerwall 2 alternatives as their energy storage battery of choice may not matter so much.

We’ll keep a close eye on how the Marshall government moves forwards with the SA renewable energy initiatives and keep reporting in! 

 

 

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Tesla Powerwall in 2018 – Availability in Australia.

What can we expect from the Tesla Powerwall in 2018? Elon Musk’s company have released their Q4 report from last year, and it also has a lot of interesting information about the direction they’re planning on taking things in 2018. It looks like the days of the severely limited supply of the Powerwall may be coming to an end. 

Tesla Energy Display - Tesla Powerwall in 2018
Tesla Energy Display – Tesla Powerwall in 2018 (source: Tesla.com)

Tesla Powerwall in 2018 – Residential Energy Storage

The Tesla Powerwall 2 has been out in Australia for almost a year now – the problem is that they have been hard to come by and Tesla have had a very difficult time meeting demand for their energy storage products (we’re not even going to delve into the Model 3 fiasco…)

“2018 will see major growth in Tesla energy storage deployments, as the production ramp of our storage products is just as steep as with Model 3,” Tesla said. “This year, we aim to deploy at least three times the storage capacity we deployed in 2017.”

They went on to elaborate on the reason Powerwalls were so difficult to source last year:

“We also deployed 87 MW of energy generation systems in Q4,
which is 20% less than Q3 2017. Solar MW deployed declined as
volumes continue to be impacted by our decision to close certain
sales channels earlier this year and to focus on projects with better
margins. In addition, solar deployments were affected by the short
supply of Powerwalls for customers who wanted solar plus
Powerwall in their house. While volumes may continue to be
impacted by these factors over the near-term, we expect growth to
resume later this year. “

This begs the question – with so many issues scaling up their energy storage how will this impact the Powerwall 3 release date announcement?

Tesla Powerpack in 2018 – Commercial Energy Storage

After the unparalleled success of the Tesla battery in South Australia, it’s unsurprising to see that they’re going to have a strong focus on commercial solar storage. 

 “Due to the success of this project, we’re seeing an increase in demand for Powerpack, our commercial energy storage product. With more electric utilities and governments around the world recognizing the reliability, environmental, and economic benefits of this product, it’s clear that there is a huge opportunity for us in large scale energy storage” their Q4 statement read. 
 
It’ll be interesting to see exactly what applications we’ll see the Powerpack being used in, both in Australia and worldwide. 

Tesla Solar Roof 2018 Update

According to the report, initial production at the Gigafactory 2 started in Q4 and Tesla are “deliberately ramping production at a gradual pace”. When “fully scaled”, the Buffalo, NY based Gigafactory 2 will be able to produce enough solar cells to add more than 150,000 new residential solar installations every year. 

If you want to learn more about the Tesla, Inc. Fourth Quarter 2017 Financial Results Q&A conference call click here to visit their site or you can find the PDF of the update letter here – Tesla Fourth Quarter & Full Year 2017 Update

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Tesla Virtual Power Plant in SA

A Tesla Virtual Power Plant will be built in South Australia, comprising of 50,000 home solar and battery systems state-wide. The deal between the South Australian Government and Elon Musk’s Tesla was announced last week by Premier Jay Weatherill ahead of the SA March state election. 

The SA government have pledged to do their part in the implementation of the virtual power plant scheme with a $2 million grant and a $30 million loan from the state Renewable Technology Fund.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant

According to Premier Weatherill, a trial of the scheme has already begun in Housing Trust properties, with 100 properties to receive their systems by EOFY (June 30), and another 1,000 in FY 18/19. After the trial is complete another 24,000 Housing Trust properties will receive the systems. 

Since there’s no word yet on the Tesla Powerwall 3 release date, they’ll use the Powerwall 2 batteries which have a 13.5kWh size. 5kW solar arrays will also be used for the 50,000 homes included in the virtual power plant. No word yet on the specifics of the solar panels the arrays will consist of but we’ll bring you that information as it becomes available.

Tesla Virtual Power Plant - Powerwall 2 Solar Battery
Tesla Virtual Power Plant – Powerwall 2 Solar Battery (source: tesla.com)

A statement from Tesla was released: 

“When the South Australian Government invited submissions for innovation in renewables and storage, Tesla’s proposal to create a virtual power plant with 250 megawatts of solar energy and 650 megawatt hours of battery storage was successful. A virtual power plant utilises Tesla Powerwall batteries to store energy collectively from thousands of homes with solar panels. At key moments, the virtual power plant could provide as much capacity as a large gas turbine or coal power plant.”

Danny Price of Frontier Economics discussed the program with the ABC:

“The biggest saving for consumers is that they don’t have to pay for as much network cost to deliver power to them because they’re generating their own power,” Price said.

Zoe Bettison, the Minister for Social Housing, discussed the reason they are installing these solar + storage systems in Housing Trust properties:

“We know that people in social housing can often struggle meeting their everyday needs and this initiative will take some pressure off their household budget,” she said.

A mammoth deal and step forward for South Australian solar – we’ll bring you more information as it becomes available!

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Microgrid in Puerto Rico? Tesla Steps In.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s landing on Puerto Rico on September 20, the country has been almost completely without power and a majority of the 3.4million residents aren’t able to use fridges, air conditioning, or pump potable water. Enter the possibility of a Microgrid in Puerto Rico – Elon Musk’s Tesla have offered their support to the country by sending hundreds of their Powerwall energy storage batteries – with many already on the ground and more to come. They’re initially being sent to high priority locations such as hospitals which are currently using expensive and hefty gas-powered generators. 

Microgrid in Puerto Rico - Tesla
Tesla Microgrid in Puerto Rico? Electric use in PR before / after Hurricane Maria (source: Inhabitat.com)

Tesla Powerwalls and Puerto Rico

According to news sources such as Bloomberg and Engadget, Tesla is sending hundreds of the Powerwalls to Puerto Rico in an attempt to help shore up its shattered energy infrastructure. The Powerwalls will be paired with solar panels to generate energy while the country works on restoring its main grids. Some of the Powerwalls have already arrived in Puerto Rico and Tesla employees are on the ground assisting in the installation of required infrastructure. According to some sources, grid power won’t return to the entire island for another six months so they’re going to have to look at some options – which may include the full scale renewables – with small grids far more resilient than transmission lines and central grids. These microgrids could be connected to a central grid but also isolated if required. 

Renewable energy expert Tom Rogers told The Washington Post “You look at islands like Dominica, Anguilla, and other islands affected by the recent hurricanes, I’ve spoken to a couple of the utilities, and they say they would prefer to rebuild using distributed generation with storage, and just trying to reduce the amount of transmission lines. Because that’s where their energy systems fail. It’s having these overhead cables.”

Tesla Microgrid in Puerto Rico

After the initial Powerwalls being sent, there have been others talking about the much larger, industrial-size Tesla Powerpack grid scale storage solution and whether this could be an option for the commonwealth moving forwards. Clean Technica report that the island’s utility company, PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority), has a massive $9 billion USD in debt to Wall Street and Puerto Rico itself is in debt to the tune of $123 billion (and $74b of them are in defaulted bonds currently in bankruptcy court). In short, the country is in serious financial strife and its grid is virtually worthless. Ricardo Ramos, the CE of PREPA, told CNN the island’s power infrastructure had been basically “destroyed”. 

There’s a possibility of just handing the grid over to its creditors and ‘start again’ – and this could perhaps be the impetus for Tesla to create microgrids across the country with its Powerpack batteries (they scale from 50kW up to 100MWh) – certainly a herculean task but who other than Elon Musk would take something like this on? 

Musk’s team are currently installing Tesla Powerpacks in South Australia under less critical circumstances but it’ll be an interesting litmus test to see if Tesla could roll something out on such a massive scale. 

 

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