It appears as though Elon Musk has had yet another bright idea. Following on from PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla, he now intends to go into the energy storage business. According to Bloomberg News last week:
Tesla Motors Inc.’s Elon Musk, already taking on the auto and aerospace industries, is going after utilities by seeking to drive down the cost of storing energy through building cheaper batteries.
The electric carmaker said in a Feb. 26 filing it’s developed a battery to store power for homes, commercial sites and utilities, the same day as announcing plans to invest as much as $5 billion in the world’s largest battery factory. The Palo Alto, California-based company is seeking to cut the cost of lithium-ion batteries by at least 30 percent.
History suggests that when Elon decides to do achieve something he doesn’t usually fail, so we will be following his latest venture with much interest!. We have long maintained that distributed energy storage (or S2G as we call it here at V2G) is a vital component of any future smart grid, and if Mr. Musk can drive down the cost of such storage that is very good news. Apart from that though, and according to Bloomberg once again:
Shifting to greater use of wind and solar power will bring “some amount of strife for the existing utilities, especially for those invested more heavily in fossil fuels,” Musk, who is also chairman of solar-power company SolarCity Corp., said yesterday at a California Public Utilities Commission event in San Francisco.
Along with cheaper batteries to drive down the cost of Tesla’s Model S electric sedan, now priced from $71,000, the company is designing stationary battery packs “that last long, are super safe and are compact,” Musk said.
“We do want to make sure we have battery production capacity at a compelling price to offer a large-scale use of stationary storage,” Musk said. “Hopefully, we’ll have that plant up and running in about three years.”
The company has said it’s exploring locations in Texas, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico for the 10 million-square-foot battery facility that would be key to expanding Tesla’s production from 35,000 cars a year to 500,000 or more.
Mr. Musk’s cousin and CEO of SolarCity Lyndon Rive added that:
There is no doubt storage will become cost effective and deliver electricity with storage at night. Utilities in California, which are taking months to connect residential solar panels to their systems, are delaying change because they profit from the current system. When you have a game-changing technology, those in the game don’t want to change. They like the existing game, the sole source, cost-plus model.
Personally I can’t help but wonder what the rules of “the future game” will be, and who will write them?