In our article about what to expect during this week’s Tesla earnings call, one of the topics we thought would come up was energy storage — Powerwalls and Megapacks — and it did. Elon Musk has said he thinks profits from the energy storage business will one day equal or exceed those from manufacturing cars and trucks.
My colleague Martin Vinkhuysen has already written about Musk’s projection that Tesla will soon be selling 1 million Powerwall residential storage batteries a year. But what slipped by during the conference call was Musk’s statement that the Megapack grid-scale battery storage system is sold out through the end of next year.
“We have a significant unmet demand in stationary storage. Megapack is basically sold out through the end of next year, I believe,” Elon Musk said in response to a question from New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu. That’s right. If you are a utility company or a renewable energy company that wants to add a Tesla Powerpack or two (or a hundred), get in line.
“As all transitions to sustainable energy production, solar and wind are intermittent and by their nature really need battery packs in order to provide a steady flow of electricity. And when you look at all the utilities in the world, this is a vast amount of batteries that are needed. That’s why in the long term, we really think sort of combined Tesla and suppliers need to produce at least 1,000 gigawatt-hours a year, and maybe 2,000 gigawatt-hours a year,” Musk said on Monday.
2,000 MWh? Holy anodes, Batman. Musk told those on the earnings call that Tesla expects to see a significant increase in battery cells from its existing suppliers and has contracts with them to nearly double their cell supply in 2022. It is thinking of overshooting cell supply estimates for vehicles and routing excess batteries to Megapack and Powerwall production.
Are the latest 4680 battery cells destined for energy storage purposes, asked Pierre Feragu? Is Tesla planning to share its 4680 technology with its suppliers, so they can manufacture those cells? Musk did not specifically answer that question, so draw your own conclusions.
A few weeks before the earnings call, Tesla updated the order page for the Megapack with new details and prices. It now shows the Megapack has a starting price of about $1.2 million per unit, depending on which state or US territory the installation will take place in. Potential Tesla customers can order up to 1,000 Megapacks, which would cost around $850 million. That works out to $278 per kWh installed. Related story from last October: “Tesla Megapack, Powerpack, & Powerwall Battery Storage Prices Per KWh — Exclusive.“
Is Musk’s prediction that energy storage could become a major source of income for Tesla correct? It certainly seems that way, particularly if it can obtain the battery cells it needs to meet the demand. Having enough orders to keep its energy storage division busy for the next 18 months certainly seems to be a hopeful sign and one that many analysts and Tesla watchers overlook.
Tesla’s Solar Roof may or may not ever take off, but its energy storage business is certainly in high gear. As more utility companies see their competitors adding grid-scale battery storage and reaping the rewards, business is only going to get better.