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Tesla Speaks on Industrial Power Storage Systems (1)

2017/08/08 02:46
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Institute
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Fig. 1: Kurt Kelty of Tesla Motors Japan, director of Tesla Energy (photo: Nikkei BP)

Fig. 2: The lecture. The lecture attracted much attention, and some of the audience had to stand. (photo: Nikkei BP)

Kurt Kelty (director, Tesla Energy) of Tesla Motors Japan gave a lecture at "PV Japan 2017" (held from July 5 to 7, 2017, at Pacifico Yokohama) on July 7. Tesla Motors Japan is the Japanese arm of Tesla Inc of the US, an electric vehicle (EV) and power storage system manufacturer. He spoke about the storage battery business and explained the current situation of the systems for industrial use and the output fluctuation control systems intended for solar power plants, etc (Fig. 1 & 2).

Tesla develops power storage systems for electric vehicles as well as power storage systems for houses and industrial use, incorporating the technologies developed for storage batteries for electric vehicles. As its new approach, the company acquired SolarCity Corp of the US, which is engaged in the solar power generation business, in the second half of 2016.

Following the acquisition, the company can now establish systems inside the group to store solar power in household storage batteries or electric vehicles.

The company manufactures a series of products from storage battery cells (charge/discharge elements), modules (units consisting of multiple connected cells) to final products for power storage systems ("PowerWall" intended for household use and "PowerPack" intended for industrial use). In addition, the company began to manufacture solar cells (power generation elements) and panels integrated with roofing materials in its solar panel business.

Kelty introduced the power storage system production base first. The power storage systems are manufactured at a base the company calls the "GigaFactory" in collaboration with Panasonic Corp.

The factory is located in the suburb of Sparks in Nevada. Factories will be constructed in phases depending on the needs. When all the factories are completed, the annual production capacity will be more than 35GWh. The factory buildings for the first-phase of the project, which occupy one-third of the entire site, have already been completed and is in operation for mass production.

The company decided to construct the GigaFactory in 2013. The decision was made because the company thought that it would be difficult to procure storage batteries for 500,000 electric vehicles, which was the goal set for the annual production and sale of electric vehicles in the future.

In 2013, the total production capacity of all storage battery manufacturers throughout the world was approximately 35GWh per year, and all the storage batteries would be used by Tesla alone. If 500,000 units of "Model 3," which was released in 2017, are manufactured per year, the capacity will exceed even 35GWh.