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Tesla installed one gigawatt-hour of energy storage globally

The falling cost of renewable energy creates more demand for energy storage

Tesla Powerwall in home

Tesla installed a worldwide total of one gigawatt-hour (GWh) of energy storage — about half the total storage installed last year.

Research firm Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables estimates that energy storage will continue to grow, from 2.3 GWh in 2017 to 21.6 GWh by 2022.

Researchers also indicated that other companies, like LG and China’s BYD, are making similar technical advancements to Tesla. However, Tesla has some advantages.

Primarily, Tesla has an advantage in manufacturing scale with its Gigafactory. It also has access to the market through SolarCity, a manufacturer and installer of solar panels that Tesla acquired in 2016.

It’s this scale that has allowed Tesla to make such an impact.

Falling costs of energy storage

Tesla’s electric car business also played a role. According to JB Straubel, Tesla’s cofounder and chief technical officer, the company’s ability to build electric cars at scale allowed the company to reduce the cost of energy storage.

 

From 2010 to 2016, the cost of energy storage dropped from $1,000 a kilowatt-hour (KWh) to $273 per KWh — nearly 73 percent. It may continue to drop, with estimates predicting $145 per KWh in 2020 and $96.5 per KWh in 2025. For context, there are one million kilowatt-hours in a gigawatt-hour.

The demand for energy storage is growing as renewable energy sources become cheaper. Energy storage is a critical part of renewables — the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

That’s where batteries come in. They’re able to store power when there’s an abundance and make it available when power’s scarce.

For example, Tesla installed the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in Australia. It covers an area the size of a football field and is saving consumers millions by increasing the reliability of the power grid.

Batteries can’t store it all

Despite the savings the giant battery provides, batteries may not be the only way to go for energy storage. These giant batteries are lithium-ion after all, meaning they aren’t great for long term storage. When a charging source is disconnected, the batteries immediately start to lose charge.

However, other options are available. A startup in Copenhagen, Denmark is working on a method to create methane gas without the use of fossil fuel. This “renewable methane” could be a solution to energy storage.

When there is excess energy on the grid, it could by syphoned into the process of creating renewable methane. The methane can be stored indefinitely and used to power a variety of things. It burns cleaner than oil or coal too.

The start-up would have to solve issues of scale first. The method also doesn’t eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, it just delays them. However, that has benefits as well.

Either way, Tesla has the problem of scale solved for itself and is poised to continue as a leader in energy storage worldwide.

Source: Fast Company

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