03 February 2020

The Verge: “I went to Australia to test out Tesla’s vision of the future”

Besides the electric charger, the mansion is also fitted with solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall, a battery for storing the energy they generate. While I live for dumb thrills like driving an expensive car I don’t own on the wrong side of the road, I am, in fact, at the mansion to experience the clean energy lifestyle Tesla is selling.

The Model X and mansion are, in some ways, emblematic of the Tesla lifestyle and approach. The dream of this lifestyle is that you can have everything you already have but without fossil fuels. You can keep on driving a car. You can live in your porn mansion entirely on renewable energy and sell any extra power you harvest to the grid. But best of all, you don’t have to think about any of it.

It’s true that this is a story about Tesla energy, but it’s also true that we all use energy all the time. The mundane tasks I engage in as I settle into the mansion — the bath, cooking dinner — of course, require energy. I can watch the little jiggles of energy required on the Tesla app. All day long, the mansion has been running on solar energy, and it continues to do so right up until I plug in the Model X to charge. That battery draws so much energy that the house switches to the grid.

Elizabeth Lopatto

A good vision for a future where individual homes are less dependent on grid power – but if your local energy generation can’t charge a Tesla, I would argue the vision has a long way ahead before becoming reality.

Later the article touches on other areas in energy supply where introducing batteries can increase efficiency and reliability – and how Tesla is reliant on the supply chain of companies like Panasonic and Samsung to deliver batteries for these projects. I get the impression that the innovation is predominantly happening along this supply chain, and Tesla is more the public face of this trend.

Night at the Hornsdale Power Reserve
Night at the Hornsdale Power Reserve. The 100MW / 129MWh lithium-ion battery is the largest in the world. Image: Tesla

But an even larger-scale Powerpack installation is in Australia: the Hornsdale Power Reserve, a 147-mile drive north of Adelaide. The 100MW / 129MWh lithium-ion battery, the largest in the world, stores energy generated by a nearby wind farm.

Like the VPP, Hornsdale exists to lower energy prices while increasing the stability of the grid. The battery, which cost about $90.6 million AUD, generated revenue of $13.1 million AUD in the first six months of 2018, according to The Guardian. About $2 million AUD came from the South Australian government’s contract with Neoen, the French company that owns the battery. The rest came from trading on the energy market or from sales on stored electricity.

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