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Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the power-up dept.

Power 151

cartechboy (2660665) writes "Let's be real, the three Detroit automakers were skeptical of Tesla Motors, and rightfully so. But at this point, it's pretty hard to deny the impact this Silicon Valley automaker is having on the industry. Now there's a new question buzzing around: Is Tesla Motors actually a carmaker, or is it really just a grid-storage company? If you think about it, the company's stock price is too high for Toyota or Daimler to just buy it outright. So maybe Tesla's gigafactory will not only make batteries for its own electric cars, but it could also sell battery packs to electric utilities and others. In reality, the gigafactory could become its own separate company and just sell the battery packs to Tesla, and others."

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carbon offsets (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687187)

No, its just a carbon offset dealer.

Re: carbon offsets (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687279)

So, in effect, a dealer of eco-pretentiousness.

Re: carbon offsets (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46689107)

and crony capitalism where they are being subsidized by the traditional automakers based on a scheme created by Sacramento lawmakers.

Re:carbon offsets (1, Funny)

ZankerH (1401751) | about 6 months ago | (#46687795)

Have you bought your indulgences for the week, comrade? Pay the carbon tax and your sins against Gaia are forgiven!

There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687207)

Or there was at some point in time...

http://www.solarcity.com/residential/energy-storage.aspx

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (4, Interesting)

bferrell (253291) | about 6 months ago | (#46687295)

Having investigated this scenario, here's how it works:

Solarcity installs a system (panels, storage, chargers/inverters) on your premises at zero cost to you. They get the tax subsidy offered for the installation. You roof is now occupied by solarcity. They sell you electricity AND what you don't use, they sell to your local utility. You have now switched energy providers and are STILL paying power bills.

I fully recognize they they take on what maintenance there is on this plant... But there isn't much and they are completely unregulated. They charge the home owner whatever they please, just so it's below the regulated utility.

It doesn't sit well with me and I won't do business that way.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (5, Insightful)

mr dirtbag (1094243) | about 6 months ago | (#46687465)

It doesn't sit well with me and I won't do business that way.

Seems like the customer who can't afford the upfront cost of panels is benefiting from cheaper energy bills.

How is this unfair?

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687541)

I agree, and would add that it's cheaper and non-carbon emitting (at least at the source, arguable as to how clean they are if you take into account production energy); usually you pay a premium for clean power. Plus all your neighbors can see how green you are.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

bferrell (253291) | about 6 months ago | (#46687999)

Uhhh... it's unfair in that solarcity uses the tax benefit/subsidies due the homeowner AND has the homeowner's roof locked up under a 20 year lease? I've calculated that at retail levels, equipment costs and installation is paid off in 10 years. That's before the tax benefits/subsidies are applied.

Now, let's add a peculiar California spin on this (my state). The utilities have been required by law to add storage capacity to the grid for something known as regulation... Fill in. This means regulating the grid up and down. When they regulate the grid up... They feed energy to the grid. Regulating down means absorbing from the grid. These activities are extraordinarily lucrative and the property owner get's none of that but it uses the "plant" they have effectively paid for.

This is also why the utilities are crying foul over the lack of grid maintenance fees by the entities with this type of operation (there are only a few, but they're all big, pretending to be small). They get to act like an energy provider with few, if any of the responsibilities. And home owners shoulder most of the burden. I consider it a scam. The operation is new, mildly more complicated than just plugging in a blender so there is confusion. And "they" are taking advantage of the confusion, back by lawyers.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#46688993)

That payback depends on where you live and how much you use. Personally, we are fine with it. In fact, we will likely buy it out in 4.5 years.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (4, Informative)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46687569)

I cant speak for this company but we have a setup like this at our home

What we did was sign a lease with the company, they own the panels, we own the electric. We pay them a fixed price on the panels per month which is around 25% of what we were paying prior to the installation. At the end of the month, Any excess power created above the lease price is paid to us (not the lease company) At the end of last year we made 1800$ in electric generation (after paying the fees, the actual check was somewhat higher, around 2800)

I dont know what company we are using as my father is the one who deals with it

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46687587)

There was something similar in the UK but it was regulated. A very good deal if you could get it.

Now we have a scheme where you basically take a loan to pay for the panels, and pay it back at a rate that is lower than the amount you save on your bills. The only real danger is that some idiots are put off buying a house with solar because they read green-hating newspapers, but otherwise it's a good deal for those who can't afford to invest a few thousand for several years up front.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687655)

It doesn't sit well with me and I won't do business that way.

Did they do something wrong? Violate some law, or someone's rights?

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

bferrell (253291) | about 6 months ago | (#46688069)

There is the letter of the law and there is what is right.

There are a lot of things people CAN do... They just shouldn't

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46688281)

I understand, but these guys aren't forcing themselves on anyone, they are providing a service that has value.

Pros
Bypass power grid (removes point of failure)
No upfront cost
Cheaper electric rates

Cons
More expensive roof repair

You make this sound like some kind of moral issue, but I'm not seeing it.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687661)

So you'd get a) cheaper energy than you currently do, b) reduce your carbon footprint, c) contribute towards cleaner air... and it's still not enough?
Most people would call such an attitude greedy and selfish.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46687947)

d) for zero capital outlay.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

bferrell (253291) | about 6 months ago | (#46688049)

NOT zero outlay. you still pay just about what you'd have payed the utility anyway... And they get to build an indistrial plat in and about your property

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46688301)

NOT zero outlay. you still pay just about what you'd have payed the utility anyway... And they get to build an indistrial plat in and about your property

That's an operational cost, not a capital cost -- which many people find to be more affordable (which is why many people will happily pay their cell phone carrier much more than the price of a cell phone since the carrier gives them the phone with little upfront cost and makes up the cost in monthly fees)

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46689115)

Stop being a retard, you pay less than the utility and you don't have to pay for the installation.
You save money.
The company makes money.
The utility may lose money or may save money, depends on the price they pay for power and the cost of production.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (3, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#46688213)

All hippie environ-wenie BS aside, the only true appeal of home solar is independence. Trading one master for another to get power is pointless. Powering your own house and car with your own equipment in a true "off the grid" way would be awesome, inspirational even. But home solar isn't quite there yet - tantalizingly close, mind you.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46688399)

All hippie environ-wenie BS aside, the only true appeal of home solar is independence. Trading one master for another to get power is pointless. Powering your own house and car with your own equipment in a true "off the grid" way would be awesome, inspirational even. But home solar isn't quite there yet - tantalizingly close, mind you.

Why isn't lower utility bills also an incentive? As long as the lease company charges you less that utility market rates, then doesn't that make solar more appealing? Not everyone wants to own and run their own powerplant, they are happy to let someone else own it and run it even if it costs them more money.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#46688503)

Meh, most promises of "buy our shit and you'll come out ahead on your utility bills" are blatant scams. Maybe these guys are legit, but I'd give em a heck of a lot of scrutiny. What's the fine print in the contract? What happens to your roof if they go under? What happens when the city outlaws selling power back to the grid because of bribery?

I prefer simplicity to penny pinching. If I own it all, with someone offering the service/maintenance for a reasonable price, that's much more clear.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46688671)

Meh, most promises of "buy our shit and you'll come out ahead on your utility bills" are blatant scams. Maybe these guys are legit, but I'd give em a heck of a lot of scrutiny. What's the fine print in the contract? What happens to your roof if they go under? What happens when the city outlaws selling power back to the grid because of bribery?

I prefer simplicity to penny pinching. If I own it all, with someone offering the service/maintenance for a reasonable price, that's much more clear.

I think you have it backwards -- simplicity is dealing with one company - you can tell them put their panels on the roof, deal with all ongoing maintenance and service, and charge you less for power than the utility. Penny pinching is "Hire Company A to install the panels, Hire company B to maintain them, when something breaks, mediate the fight between Company A, Company B, and the company that manufactured the equipment while in the meantime you have no power since your grid-tie inverter blew up". When one company does it all, you can hold them to their SLA to fix the equipment regardless of whether it was a manufacturing defect, an installation error, or lack of preventative maintenance.

You get to keep more of the rewards with the second scenario, but it's not simpler.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 months ago | (#46688867)

I know 20+ people who have installed solar on lease options like this, and all of them report paying significantly less, net, for their electricity -- even though the lower cost per kWh has resulted in increased consumption. And this in an area where the power company pays basically nothing for power generated in excess of power consumed (unlike other areas where peak-time generation can be very lucrative).

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about 6 months ago | (#46687677)

I fully recognize they they take on what maintenance there is on this plant... But there isn't much...

They also take on the opportunity cost of capital [wikipedia.org] which is around 7% annually [thesimpledollar.com] of the cost of the installation. That's $700 per year or $58 per month for a $10,000 installation.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 6 months ago | (#46687703)

When you sell your house, is the new owner/house encumbered with the agreement you signed with SolarCity? How long does the agreement last?

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

bferrell (253291) | about 6 months ago | (#46688015)

The new owner IS encumbered and typically these are 20 year leases on your roof

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#46689031)

yes, but, considering that if you do not use the electricity, the excess is bought by the electric company means that you have deal.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 6 months ago | (#46687715)

> It doesn't sit well with me and I won't do business that way.

What is the problem with reducing your energy cost while at the same time helping the planet?

While I usually like pricks, in your case I will make an exception.

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46687937)

They charge the home owner whatever they please, just so it's below the regulated utility.

So doesn't that make it cheaper?

Re:There is already a Tesla home battery pack (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#46688979)

Actually, we have solar city on our roof, and we love it. Other than summer, we pay just around 90 for our electricity. BUT, in the summer, we have $200-250 electric bills for 3-4 months depending on heat, etc. With the solar, we pay 100/month. Period. In addition, in jan, we were at about the right amount, but in feb, we sold 244 KWH back to Xcel. For march, it appears that we will sell back some 500-600 KWH.
Now, to be fair, we had in-laws here all last year, and they gone. In addition, I replaced nearly all of our incadescents and CFL with cree LEDs.
As such, our bill is down quite a bit. BUT, within another year, we will have a tesla. At that time, we will still very likely be paying 100/month.
Finally, when the tesla comes, we will pull 3 circuits from the box and put them in a different box, and then power these via solar/battery when our power goes out (and it does).

So, you may not like them, but it is working great for us.

So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the company (1, Interesting)

JerryLove (1158461) | about 6 months ago | (#46687239)

First they would need to lower the stock somehow... perhaps sewing FUD over 2 fires. If that doesn't work, maybe some campaign about how bad batteries are. That would make them aquireable... if it worked.

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 6 months ago | (#46687495)

What's hilarious is that no one has seen the obvious: no company's "stock price is too high ... to just buy it"

Company A: valued at $X
Company B: valued at $Y

Company A+B: valued at $X+$Y

No one has to have the cash on hand to do a merger (the traditional form of "purchase"). If you wanted to actually make a "purchase", all you would have to do is involve a bank.

Of course, Elon Musk has absolutely no reason to sell his company to a bunch of people that wouldn't know how to run it!

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 months ago | (#46687521)

That's all fantastic in your zero mass-zero friction theoretical land, but if you can't get financing based on not having enough value in your company that's the same thing as a stock price being too high. Otherwise, I'd be able to form a company tonight and buy Microsoft.

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | about 6 months ago | (#46687691)

Your inability to buy Microsoft has nothing to do with Microsoft's stock price being "too high." And if you could convince a) Microsoft, and b) a bank (or the markets) that you could run Microsoft better than the current management the money would not be a significant hurdle.

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46688697)

You're pretty inexperienced in investment aren't you.

You'll be pretty hard pressed to get ANYONE regardless of your 'skills' to put together a deal to LOAN you the money to buy Microsoft.

Contrary to your theoretical little world, in the real world, people don't invest billions of dollars in random people just because they say 'I can run it better than the guy running it now' unless the guy running it now is utterly destroying it, in which case the value of the company drops considerably making it a more lucrative possibility and making the risk easier.

There is no chance in hell that you could gather enough money to buy Microsoft as it stands, even if Ballmer was still in charge. To 'buy' Microsoft you have to buy more than half of all shares in existence, public, private, restricted or whatever. Even the slightest hint that someone was trying to do that would drive the stock price through the roof. If you started buying the stock ... again, price is going to go through the roof. So yes, your ability to buy Microsoft has EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE STOCK PRICE BEING TOO HIGH FOR YOU TO AFFORD IT. This is basic 3rd grade economics. You have $10, You need $1,000,000,000,000. Regardless of what fantasy you live in, you aren't going to buy the product with that many zeros difference.

In the real world, people aren't as silly as you seem to be used to in your little fantasy world.

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46688975)

Microsoft's stock price is too high.

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46687577)

exactly, look at comcast TW issue, the deal is for billions in stock, no cash at all

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 6 months ago | (#46687965)

Company A takes enormous write off when they finally admit they paid too much.
Company A valued at A + log2(B)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/... [bloomberg.com]

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 6 months ago | (#46688159)

Actually make that A + log2(B) - B, because A is now out the cash/stock they paid for B.

Re:So if they (GM/whomever) wanted to buy the comp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687603)

It's the new and flashy technology. People are going to pay attention to it unlike the rest of the technology that has existed for their entire lives. If it wasn't for Tesla's flash and cutting edge technology they wouldn't make page 10 in section C of the New Crap Times. With the good comes the bad.
 
Get over it.

Fuck autorefresh! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687253)

Fuck autorefresh!

Panasonic (5, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46687259)

The gigafactory is basically a Panasonic battery factory. Tesla is involved because they want it in the US and are a major consumer of Panasonic batteries, but all the tech is Japanese. So yeah, Panasonic is in the grid storage business. They do home battery packs and wind farm output smoothing in Japan, and maybe soon in the US.

Re:Panasonic (5, Informative)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#46687391)

Tesla is putting up something like $2B of the total estimated $5B price tag. So they would be a partner, not just a consumer.

But you are correct that US news outlets were overplaying Tesla's involvement in the project and underplaying Panasonic's.

Re:Panasonic (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 6 months ago | (#46688337)

Well, to be fair, Panasonic would not even consider building the plant as described if Tesla weren't providing the primary demand projections. Latest reports were Panasonic was still a little hesitant to go in whole hog, which is why Tesla is making so much noise trying to win them over.

Re:Panasonic (2)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | about 6 months ago | (#46687423)

The current Tesla cells are too expensive for grid storage. Nickle and cobalt are not cheap. Nothing says they can't make two types of batteries though, nickle cobalt for cars and manganese dioxide or iron phosphate for the grid. Or they could have a nice lithium sulfur chemistry they could use for both; there has been a lot of recent development in that area.

Re:Panasonic (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46687699)

In 15 to 20 years time when "worn out" Model S battery packs start to become available I expect one of the main applications will be storage for domestic solar installations that can tolerate having only 70% capacity remaining. Tesla have said they estimate a 250,000 mile lifespan for their packs (down to 80% capacity), and offer an 8 year unlimited mileage warranty that seems to back that up (averaging 15k/year for 8 years is 120k miles, but some people do double that).

Japanese manufacturers already offer this.

Re:Panasonic (1)

St.Creed (853824) | about 6 months ago | (#46687829)

Very likely. Especially since it seems that Prius battery packs are holding up even better than expected, I'd expect the same from the Tesla packs (unless they use a different type of battery), and buying an older one for a low price seems like a good idea if you need the storage.

Unfortunately my roof is pretty unhelpful as regards solar panel placement. I have a large flat roof in the shade. Otherwise I'd have already installed solar panels.

Re:Panasonic (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46688007)

The Prius used NiMH batteries, Tesla use lithium.

Re:Panasonic (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46688187)

Give it time. Eventually the panels will be so cheap every roof will have them, even the less than optimal ones.

Re:Panasonic (3, Interesting)

blindseer (891256) | about 6 months ago | (#46688825)

I had a discussion with a coworker about the viability for solar power and out of that discussion came a challenge to find out what it would cost for a solar power system for a home. Taking up the challenge I spent a weekend doing the math on what it would cost to take my house off-grid and live off a solar and battery system. What I found was that it would cost ten times what I pay now for electricity.

What I worked with was the going average cost of common lead-acid batteries for storage, the estimated cost of common solar panels, and the electronics to make it all work. It's been a while since I did this research and I'm not sure if I assumed three or four days of electric storage. If we assume just one day of storage, which means no backup for a stormy day, then I might be able to halve the cost of the system but that still only gets us to five times the cost of utility power.

I calculated that if I cover my entire roof with solar panels that even in the winter I'd have enough power to run my home, assuming average power usage, excepting big power items like stoves and clothes dryers, I assumed that such items would be run off of natural gas. In the summer I'd have a glut of power, enough to run an electric car.

For a moment let's assume you are correct and prices come down to where everyone would rather buy solar panels and a battery pack for their home than rely on utility power. What happens for extended periods of poor weather? People would have to have either utility power for that or, I assume more likely, a backup generator. A utility is going to want a monthly service fee for the wire to the home even if no power is consumed, at least that is how I pay for my natural gas service. A generator isn't free either but we are assuming the total cost is still in favor of solar panels on every rooftop.

What other question I have is how much material will this take? That's a lot of valuable metals in people's basements, or placed on a grid for utility provided storage. I recall seeing someone that did the computation and for grid storage for the entire USA it would take a battery the size of Oklahoma that was two stories tall. Perhaps I recall incorrectly, I'm probably off by an order of magnitude or two but the battery had to be huge.

If your prediction does come true I don't see that happening for a very long time. Solar panels and batteries have a long way to go until they are cheaper than coal and natural gas. I think we will have nuclear power cheaper than coal first.

Re:Panasonic (1)

snsh (968808) | about 6 months ago | (#46687893)

Not to mention, batteries for cars are are optimized for weight, while batteries for grid power are optimized for everything but weight.

Re:Panasonic (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 6 months ago | (#46688435)

Not to mention, batteries for cars are are optimized for weight, while batteries for grid power are optimized for everything but weight.

Batteries for cars are optimized for weight, size, power delivery, low maintenance and cost. Batteries for grid storage are optimized for power delivery, low maintenance and cost. Size and weight are bonuses that make them cheaper to deploy (less land/manpower). So they really aren't as different as you make out.

No utility in their right mind is going to deploy billions of lead-acid cells that will need constant watering and replacement in 5 years when they could buy EV batteries cheaply (due to combined scale of manufacturing and/or reuse) and leave them in place for 20 years.

Re:Panasonic (3, Interesting)

wchin (6284) | about 6 months ago | (#46688677)

At the cell level, Tesla is probably already paying under $250/kWh. Maybe even just under $200/kWh. That's below most lithium iron phosphate battery costs which are already competitive with lead acid batteries for total life cycle costs in an off-grid solar battery setup. So this "too expensive" comment is probably not right. Further, if they recycle battery cells from transportation use to grid storage use, then the costs could be far lower.

Re:Panasonic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687503)

I am sure that this idea is completely new and unquestionably successful [wikipedia.org] .

WRONG (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 months ago | (#46689099)

Giga-factory is no more panasonic than tesla belongs to Mercedes and Toyota. It belongs mostly to Musk/Tesla. In addition, it is vastly re-engineered from what panasonic runs. With this factory, they will more than double the world's production of lithium batteries, while using less than 1/10 of the labor that panasonic does.

So few ppl understand Musk, but his real claim to fame is NOT simple engineering. It is Industrial engineering. In all aspects he is looking at the economics of how this works. For example, SpaceX F9 is mostly cheap because of 10 engines all the same. In addition, how their bell is manufactured is a fraction of what other's costs.
Tesla is the same way.
And solar city will be either buying an American solar panel company, OR will build their own in the states, within 2 years.

Both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687261)

This is what entrepreneurs do. He started with the car, but realized there wasn't sufficient supply for quality batteries. Like any good entrepreneur, instead of just building it as a seperate branch of Tesla, he built it to survive on it's own. I mean, you are already producing batteries, this will allow you to make sure you always have enough supply for Telsa, and to do that, the batteries have to be sold on their own. I wouldn't be surprised if he spins off renewable energy companies, as well.

Re:Both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46689559)

He is not just a entrepreneur, he is Silicon Valley entrepreneur...

Batteries ARE their most valuable engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687269)

Seriously, the drive train, the interface, not going to be changing much. You might as well ask about their tire engineering.

Not a thing.

It's the batteries that matter.

Everything else is just salad dressing.

Tesla is a geoengineering company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687313)

They created a device that can spin the Earth with electricity until the part you wish to travel to lies underneath.

This is simple Republican stupidity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687363)

They don't understand electricity and refuse to study it because it isn't in their book so we end-up with stupid misunderstandings like this. The Tesla batteries are very expensive because they're light and vibration-resistant. You don't need those things for utility batteries. Republicans are just too stupid to understand that. That is why lead-acid batteries are the best for this purpose.

Daimler? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 months ago | (#46687367)

""the company's stock price is too high for Toyota or Daimler to just buy it outright"

Which Daimler? The Jaguar witht a different badge, or Mercedes (Benz)

the latter's hybrids seem to be doing quite well at the moment (in Formula 1)

Re:Daimler? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#46688051)

The Daimler that owns Mercedes, Smart and 4.7% of Tesla.

Re:Daimler? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 6 months ago | (#46688749)

the latter's hybrids seem to be doing quite well at the moment (in Formula 1)

I wouldn't call KERS a 'hybrid' in the same sense of the word as used in context with the Prius.

Nor would I consider much F1 tech to be relevant to street driven autos.

Religion. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687375)

Tesla is a religion, and just like every other religion, its followers go off on rants about how reasonable it is, and make extraordinary claims about the quite ordinary.

Better Yet (3, Funny)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 6 months ago | (#46687377)

By covering the top of the Tesla with solar cells the cars could gather solar energy, store it and sell the excess to the power companies. Social chaos will soon follow. Just wait until the power companies have to hop scotch over homes that provide their own energy and the price of energy for homes on the grid goes through the roof. Big oil, coal, the nuclear industry as well as traditional car makers and associated trades could sink below the waves. The shifting of incredible amounts of money from those industries alone could generate financial chaos. Combined with breakthroughs like 3D printing we are entering an era in which we have no economic model to apply to this new way of life.

Re:Better Yet (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46687565)

Put down the bong, step back and think, this time with numbers.

Re:Better Yet (1)

jemmyw (624065) | about 6 months ago | (#46688633)

I think you missed the sarcasm there.

Re:Better Yet (3, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46687749)

The surface area of the roof isn't really enough to provide much solar PV electricity, but that isn't to say it can't be used for something. For a few years now Toyota have offered a solar panel on the roof of the Prius that can run the AC while it is parked without using fuel or depleting the batteries. The Nissan Leaf uses a solar panel to keep the 12V battery topped up (not the main lithium pack, the 12V vehicle power lead acid) and I'm surprised more manufacturers don't do that now.

Re:Better Yet (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46688211)

The Audi A8 was offered with a warm weather package, the sunroof goes from ordinary metal to carrying a solar panel which is used to run the fresh air blower while it's parked in the sun. Came out in 1994. Doesn't charge the battery though, which is unfortunate given how much electrical crap is in there.

Stock price too high? (2)

gwstuff (2067112) | about 6 months ago | (#46687383)

Facebook could have bought them instead of buying WhatsApp and Ocular, and spending just a little bit more.

Re:Stock price too high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687431)

Yeaaaaah, no. They couldn't. Remember who runs Tesla?

Re:Stock price too high? (4, Funny)

fishybell (516991) | about 6 months ago | (#46687583)

Yeaaaaah, no. They couldn't. Remember who runs Tesla?

Iron man?

Re:Stock price too high? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46688291)

Not all of Musk's ideas are as brilliant as Tesla or SpaceX. PayPal is shockingly bad, and only popular because eBay forces you to use it and excludes everything else.

Re:Stock price too high? (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#46689303)

Paypal is a good idea, it's just a terrible company.

Re:Stock price too high? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 6 months ago | (#46688181)

But how does that help Facebook squash potential competitors and control potential market-changing technologies?

Maybe Alaska will be interested... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46687405)

Anybody interested in Grid-tie utility level battery energy storage systems should look at Fairbank's BESS [gvea.com] , a 6.75 MWh battery system that's to cover any outages until alternate power can be spun up.

Of course, they're NiCad batteries right now, but given enough time, I can see LiIon being cheaper. Still, at $35M it's not cheap.

Re:Maybe Alaska will be interested... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 6 months ago | (#46687455)

With a car battery, or a laptop / phone battery, you care about kWh per cubic cm. With a grid storage battery, the amount of space it takes up isn't that much of an issue, but you do care about about how much of the kWh you put into the battery you get back out, and how much it costs per kWh of storage.

Grid storage priorities (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46687581)

I'm not sure why you posted this, I didn't make any mention of size, weight, or efficiency. Still, to expand -

Grid storage is indeed not very concerned with size(volume, weight), but are interested in overall cost and efficiency. Everything I've read has LiIon being not just top of the line for energy density, but also comes out high for energy efficiency - this is where lead-acid tends to fall down. It's energy efficiency tends to be about equal to the Nickel chemistries - NiCad and NiMH.

I mentioned the price because LiIon has been becoming cheaper per joule per years, when the nickel in NiCad batteries has been increasing in price, driving up the cost of battery chemistries that use it. NiCad is still cheaper, but for how long? Musk is planning on chopping the cost of LiIon in half again with this factory.

The BESS ended up being $5 per watt-hour, but it's a complete UPS system. We don't know how much the batteries/chargers were specifically and how much was the facility and AC generation equipment.

You need more than a battery to store grid energy (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 6 months ago | (#46687469)

If you want to store grid surplus energy you also need circuits to feed it nack into the grid, like DC to AC converters and transformators.
In germany we have research projects how home owners, or more precisely residents, can connect the car to the grin in a way that the car itslef is the storage.
Extra batteries, like Li-ion or NiCad makes no real sense. After a few years they are worn out ... for nothing but storing excess grid energy, pointless, expensive, wasteful. If it was that easy, we already would do it.

Re:You need more than a battery to store grid ener (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 6 months ago | (#46687527)

Easy solution, pump your car up onto the roof.

Re:You need more than a battery to store grid ener (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46687891)

Nissan offers a "whole house UPS" feature for its Leaf EV in Japan. In the event of a power failure your car can run important appliances like the fridge for a few days. You can use it to reduce your energy bills by storing solar energy not used during the day too.

Probably not (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 6 months ago | (#46687517)

Batteries for grid storage have different properties than batteries for cars.

  • Weight doesn't matter for grid storage.
  • Recharge time need not be faster than discharge rate.
  • Grid storage batteries should last a decade or two. Car storage batteries only need a working life of a few thousand hours.
  • Efficiency over a charge/discharge cycle matters more for grid storage.

So grid storage tends to use different battery technologies than vehicles.

Re:Probably not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687913)

But someone blogged bout it! So obviously all your "facts" are now false.

Re:Probably not (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46688191)

Weight doesn't matter for grid storage.

But having lighter batteries is a plus, not a drawback, even so.

Batteries for grid storage have different properties than batteries for cars.

And yet, using old car batteries for grid storage is Nissan's Leaf battery recycling plan.

Recharge time need not be faster than discharge rate.

Won't hurt though, and it may well be a benefit.

Grid storage batteries should last a decade or two. Car storage batteries only need a working life of a few thousand hours.

The car batteries only keep their peak charge characteristics for the first few thousand hours, but they still keep working for a decade or two.

Efficiency over a charge/discharge cycle matters more for grid storage.

What? Who told you that?

Re:Probably not (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 6 months ago | (#46688283)

Yeah using expensive lithium polymer batteries for utilities sounds like a bunch of bologna- there is a bunch of research right now going into making inexpensive sodium ion/sulfur batteries for this purpose.

Giga market play (2)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | about 6 months ago | (#46687543)

The real position in play is abstraction over the GRID and selling it back as a viable business model. EV's are transitional technologies on the way to the future. Tesla cars are proof-of-concepts that a future can work without petroleum dependancy. They spotlight those millions of tailpipe emissions which only electric and hydrogen eliminate.

Power markets refuse to invest in the capture of smokestack emissions at source so the exercise Tesla is running remains retail only. When hydrogen competes with electric fuel cells that day will mark petroleum's last tailpipe gasp. Then emissions at the smokestack are all that's left to capture then.

Tesla will be there and in position to sell you power for your business, home or car in whatever form required from an eco-conscious GRID that puts the cost of capture into the end product and puts producer's responsibility back onto the consumer end user.

Re:Giga market play (2)

robot256 (1635039) | about 6 months ago | (#46688667)

Fact: The U.S. power grid has continually reduced its overall emissions for decades now.

Fact: Electric vehicles produce less overall emissions than a 35mpg car, even on the dirtiest grid in the U.S, and most EVs are operated on much cleaner grids.

Fact: Over 1/3 of EV drivers own enough solar generation to offset the power used in their cars, making them truly zero emissions.

Zero-emissions electric vehicles exist now, if you have the money or lifestyle to fit it. I too think it will be a great day when hydrogen cars actually compete with battery-electric vehicles. But the obstacles we have to solve before then are many:

1) invent a way to convert electricity into hydrogen that actually approaches the efficiency of batteries, if not equaling it, instead of making it out of methane like we do now or wasting half your power in electrolysis.

2) build hydrogen fueling stations everywhere before a solid base of users exists to pay for it.

3) convince the public that hydrogen cars won't explode like the Hindenburg (stupid but important).

4) make them cheaper than an equivalent battery-electric car, because by the time all that gets done BEVs will be so far ahead you will wonder why you bothered with hydrogen at all.

Once Tesla has created a super-cheap source of grid storage batteries, everyone with an electric car can get solar and go off the grid. Then the power plants and centralized distributors will be forced to shut down. Then local grids will spring back up so people can use communal backup generators on cloudy weeks, but we will never again need the complex monstrosity of our present power grid because all generation will be local. We already have new factories installing enough solar and wind to power themselves, so it's only a matter of time before the grid becomes redundant and uneconomical to maintain.

Re:Giga market play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46689117)

Industrial power is still necessary, all the datacenters, manufactories, and industrial processing will require powerplant-level power. However, I could easily see the construction of new plants cease, and possibly even plants close in your scenario. But some plants will always remain.

Re:Giga market play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46689647)

They will become self reliant...

Re:Giga market play (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 6 months ago | (#46689667)

Hydrogen isn't even close to petroleum's last gasp. 99% of that hydrogen is going to be made by reforming natural gas and other fossil fuel feed stocks.

Why do you think the Bush admin pushed hydrogen so hard?

Tesla Cars are Grid Storage (2)

HizookRobotics (1722346) | about 6 months ago | (#46687757)

If Tesla makes the cars' power bidirectional, the excess capacity of cars plugged in for recharging (essentially) becomes a grid-connected battery itself. I recall seeing homebrew electric cars used as "generators" during brownouts a few years back. Tesla could do this on a massive scale using individuals' cars -- and pass some of the gains (peak power) back to the car owners.

Not Rightly. Just Mightly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46687785)

Most assuredly. Perhaps. As the sideshow-like oil industry must have developed a secret plot to substitute culking and axle grease sales to the Navy and take over the cart and buggy market.

And laughably try to oppose with their puny "kerosene", the huge and unbreacheable whale oil cartels, while underhandedly aspiring in reality to corner the essential oil lantern sector - imposing their untested and entirely unreliable "kerosene lamps". All in one breath.

That will not, 'Sur', I repeat, will not aspire to happen! The very idea deigns to invoke nothing but the most guileless mirth. If not derision.

Still blindered and stuck on that batteries thing, eh?

Re:Not Rightly. Just Mightly. (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 6 months ago | (#46688715)

If you're saying that a start-up energy technology that was poo-pooed by analysts for years could actually succeed in upending dozens of entrenched industries, then batteries seem like a pretty good way to go. The oil industry doesn't have a monopoly on Machiavellian corporate tactics.

Question in the headline. The answer is... (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 6 months ago | (#46688071)

...No.

(What was the question again?)

Car Maker or Grid Storage Company? (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 6 months ago | (#46688661)

How about crony capitalist fraud?

fuck a? Doll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46688763)

Enough with the grid storage (1)

blindseer (891256) | about 6 months ago | (#46689007)

How big would a battery have to be to run the USA overnight so we can run everything off of solar power? How much material would this take? How much would it all cost?

I've seen these numbers before and it's not good. We are going to be a coal powered nation for a very long time. I see wind power as promising, the price isn't too far off from what natural gas and coal costs. Solar is just so extremely expensive that it is only considered in the most unusual cases. Wind and solar both rely on cheap electric storage which I don't see happening any time soon.

If people start building grid level electric storage because materials get cheap then the demand for those materials will drive the price back up. I say that instead of trying to store electricity when it's produced by unreliable wind and solar that we should develop technology so that cheap energy like coal, natural gas, and nuclear can load follow like the expensive natural gas and oil fired generators.

If the concern is CO2 output then nothing can beat nuclear, not even wind and solar. We have drawings of nuclear power plants that can load follow, we need to make them real and see how they compare to the theory. I think nuclear the the future, not big batteries.

For those that scream, "What about the nuclear waste?" I say look up waste annihilating molten salt reactor.

The company I work for is using Tesla batteries... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46689139)

...at one of our manufacturing plants. In fact we're displacing a bunch of office space for the batteries themselves.

I expect to see it in place in the next few months.

So, yea, I'd say Tesla is getting into the grid storage business.

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