‘Ballistic’ Is Elon Musk’s New Word For The Energy Storage Market, But We Still Have To Stay Tuned
The energy-storage market will go “ballistic” in the final two months of this year, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday, when the company ramps up production of batteries he promises will be “head and shoulders above anything else I’ve even heard announced as future plans from other companies.”
Exactly one year ago Musk called the energy-storage market “staggeringly gigantic,” and although Tesla utility-scale Powerpacks and residential-scale Powerwalls have since rolled out, Musk cautioned then and continued to caution Wednesday that the real launch comes at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
“It’s going to be heavily concentrated in Q4 and probably heavily in November and December, but I think it’s going to be real exciting when people see it,” Musk said Wednesday afternoon during the Tesla Motors Q2 earnings call.
“That’s why I expect kind of exponential growth from there. It’s really going to go ballistic.”
Tesla battery competitor AES Corp. also sees a promising market, but in characteristically more conservative language, AES CEO Andres Gluski predicts the market will be “quite large” in five years. Musk believes the market is large now, and Tesla’s only constraints are on the production side:
“There’s definitely nothing even remotely close to demand constraint on the Tesla Energy side, it’s entirely getting the engineering done, getting it validated, getting URL certification, scaling up all elements of the supply chain and being able to produce in volume,” he said.
“What I’m highly confident of is that the next generation of stationary storage is head and shoulders above anything else that I’ve even heard announced as future plans from other companies. So we’ve just got to build those damn things.
“We’ve just got to scale up production, and production is a hard thing, it’s real hard, particularly when it’s a new technology. If it’s a cutting edge technology it’s really hard to scale up production because you’ve got to design the machine that makes the machine, not just the machine itself.”
Tesla also has to lay the infrastructure to market the batteries throughout the world, said Chief Technical Officer J.B. Straubel.
“We have been making quite a few background investments in the markets where we’re growing,” Straubel said, “setting up the teams and setting up to get ready for expanded product installation and distribution, especially in the places like Australia and Germany, so some of that takes a bit of time, but it’s laying the infrastructure for faster growth.”
But some of the most important potential customers for Powerpacks—utilities—have encountered constraints on their end as well, mostly surrounding regulation. Regulators in each state and country still have to figure out how to integrate storage and compensate utilities for installing it.
“There’s an enormous amount of momentum within the market,” said Ehren Seybert, an advisor to California Public Utility Commissioner Carla Peterman, at the STUDIO Energy Storage Technical Conference Monday night.