Tesla covertly installing mega-battery to stabilize Texas power grid
While Tesla is famous for its electric cars, the company's official mission is to "accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy". Bloomberg reports that the company is currently building a battery facility at Angleton, Texas. Tesla's lesser-known subsidiary called Gambit Energy Storage LLC is in charge of the development. The project is all hush-hush, but some interesting details have been reported.
The project was initiated by Plus Power and then sold
Documentation for the project was originally filed by Plus Power, a privately held renewables company. It confirmed to Bloomberg that it had started the project and then sold it to an undisclosed party. The entire project essentially consists of 20 large banks of batteries arranged in two rows. The report claims that the 100 megawatt battery will power around 20,000 homes during the summer.
Gambit project would supplement Texas' heavily wind-dependent grid
The Gambit project is reportedly being developed to supplement the inefficient Texas power grid overseen by non-profit group Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). About 56 percent of the grid's power comes from natural gas, 24 percent comes from wind, 19 percent from coal, and 9 percent from nuclear energy. As wind energy is highly unreliable, battery networks are used to store energy.
Dependency on wind farms cost Texas dearly during winter storm
Notably, at the height of the Texas winter storm last month, ERCOT said 47.7 percent of gas, coal, and nuclear power was taken offline whereas a whopping 83 percent of wind power capacity was lost. This led to state-wide blackouts that lasted weeks. While the government blamed underperforming natural gas power plants, the state's increased dependency on wind farms is also a key factor.
Germany supplements wind farms' output by importing Russian natural gas
For comparison's sake, Germany is comparably more wind energy-dependent vis-a-vis Texas. It generated nearly 48 percent of its nationwide power using wind farms alone. Meanwhile, the country is also shutting down nuclear and coal-fuelled power plants. However, to compensate for inconsistent wind power production, the country imports fossil fuels at steep prices from Russia, which delivers natural gas through the Nord Stream pipeline.
Gambit project could begin commercial operations from June
We believe the Gambit project intends to prevent Texas' sustainable energy plans from drawing flak like Germany drew from the US. A senior ERCOT official told Bloomberg that the Gambit project has proposed commercial operations' commencement from June 1. A similar Tesla project was launched in South Australia in 2017 with a 100 megawatt capacity. The Texas facility will at least equal that capacity.
Musk relocates to Texas; Tesla, SpaceX expanding operations in state
However, we believe a single battery facility with 100 megawatt capacity might prove to be inadequate. Additionally, battery performance is dependent on ambient temperatures, as we have noticed with Tesla's own electric cars. Nevertheless, it's clear Elon Musk has plans to expand his enterprises' footprint in the state. SpaceX already launches rockets from Boca Chica and Tesla Motors will build a factory in Austin.