When Tesla unveiled the Megapack, the company positioned it as a battery that had the potential to render traditional coal and gas-fired peaker plants obsolete. Since their introduction in 2019, Tesla Megapacks have been deployed across the globe, and they are starting to live up to their promise.
Being grid-scale batteries, Megapacks could perform tasks that are typically assigned to peaker plants. Typical peaker plants are idle for most of the day, since they are only fired up to provide extra energy when demand for electricity spikes up. Megapacks are able to support the grid just as well, if not better, than peaker plants, and they are also a whole lot cleaner.
While Tesla’s business is typically dominated by the company’s sleek electric vehicles, its energy business is also growing at a fairly steady rate. As noted in a Quartz report, Tesla has stepped up the pace of its big battery projects, with estimates pointing to utility-scale battery construction increasing almost 10-fold in 2021.
A number of high-profile grid-scale battery projects utilize Tesla Megapacks. The Tesla-powered Elkhorn Battery in Moss Landing is a 182.5 MW / 730 MWh system comprised of 256 Megapack batteries. Tesla is expected to complete a couple of other big battery projects this year, such as a Megapack installation that would replace the last coal plant in Hawaii and another battery that would replace one of New Mexico’s most carbon-polluting coal plants.
According to software engineer Lorenz Gruber, who tracks Megapack installations that are at least 5 MWh in size, the pace of grid-scale battery installations from Tesla is actually accelerating. If the Hawaii and New Mexico batteries are actually completed this year, for example, Tesla would end up breaking last year’s installation record by about 50%. That’s not bad at all, considering that Tesla Energy is yet to be fully ramped by the company.
What is quite interesting is that Tesla is not the only company building utility-scale batteries. Fellow battery makers like LG and Samsung have also built installations at similar scales. The same is true for China-based battery companies. Overall, the battery storage disruption does seem to be coming. It just so happens that its ramp is happening very quietly, without much fuss.