On Tesla’s batteries and “disrupting” utilities
Interesting article on the Utility Dive website that discusses the likelihood of Elon Musk’s stationary storage tech disrupting utility generators.
The short version of the article’s primary argument is that most people won’t have the space or finances to power a home solely on solar panels and Tesla’s batteries. It is much easier and far less expensive to use the existing transmission and utility network to act as the battery.
For example, in one location, the researchers calculated that to increase the portion of household annual electricity consumption produced by solar from 52.1 to 99.6 percent, the solar array would need to be 8 times as big, and the battery bank nearly 6 times as big. Much of these additional panels and batteries would essentially be kept in reserve for the most extreme conditions.
The researchers further concluded that homeowners who had such excess panel and battery capacity would be far better off connecting their systems to the grid so they could sell their excess electricity production to the utility. In retrospect, the Sydney researchers needn’t have done so much work. They rediscovered one of the main reasons why we have utilities. It would be far too wasteful for all of us, both individually and societally, to buy all the excess equipment we’d need to have our own autonomous highly reliable electric supplies. Instead, we depend on the utilities to aggregate our loads, damp out our individual peak loads through diversity, and invest in whatever power capacity is required.
As the Utility Dive article goes on to note, Musk himself was downplaying the alleged disruptive nature of his storage technologies at the annual Edison Electric Conference, saying publicly that utility executives shouldn’t fear his battery systems.