Tesla’s Kauai solar storage facility offers a glimpse of the company’s future

Tesla’s star installation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai isn't simply a product launch of the corporate – it’s the primary real proof the company’s giving that its acquisition of SolarCity isn't solely good, however necessary.

Necessary, as a result of it'll facilitate Tesla deliver the goods its grand vision of creating star (and alternative renewable) energy a sensible and cost-efficient choice for power generation everyplace, not simply wherever the sun shines strongest.

At the disclosing of the Kauai power facility, Tesla CTO JB Straubel looked alittle out of place together with his tucked-in blue shirt and dark pants, speaking as he did during a lineup that enclosed various Hawaiian government representatives carrying flower print shirts and sandals. however Straubel appeared assured and comfortable despite the visual discrepancies, if additional unostentatious in his enjoyment of the event than the gregarious native utility executives.

There’s smart reason for Straubel to savor the instant, after all – some money observers had been cautious of Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, following the announcement of its intent to try and do thus last year, and continued through the closure of the deal in Gregorian calendar month. Why, the critics argued, did it make sense to tie an electric car maker to this company that made and sold solar panels?

A Model X stood ready for inspection by attendees at the Kauai solar storage facility launch. Tesla acquired SolarCity in November 2016.

It was a question that Tesla seemed to think had an obvious answer; Tesla CEO Elon Musk replied to questions about the logic behind the tie-up with obvious exasperation at multiple press events and during quarterly earnings calls. Asked about whether SolarCity might prove a burdensome financial risk for Tesla to take on, Musk initially demurred before being seemingly unable to resist calling the question dumb and highlighting why, based on current balance sheets, the opposite was actually true.

But nothing can answer critics quite like a demonstration – and Tesla has now shown why the two companies stand to benefit from being under one roof in a few different ways. The first came before the ink was dry on the acquisition, when Tesla revealed its solar roof tile product, at an event co-hosted by SolarCity, that additionally launched its Powerwall a pair of home energy storage answer. The second was the Kauai facility unveiling, that showed however Tesla will scale its potential within the client market to suit ever-larger comes for industrial and utility purchasers, too.

Solar panels blanket an oversized clearing on the Grove Farm land the Tesla facility occupies, lined in undulating waves on the softly rolling hills. It looks like you’re standing within the center of a crown of mountains, dominating a strangely geometric and artificially blue semisynthetic lake. Rows of Tesla Powerpack a pair of industrial batteries stand as silent white monuments next to the angular lake, rising up in stark distinction from the roan mineral earth that’s additionally wont to create pigeons for a close-by firing range.

Tesla’s Powerpack a pair of storage arrays exchange long rows next to the sector of sun-soaking panels.

The whole facility generates thirteen megawatts of energy, that adds up to around nineteen,438 MWh of electricity each year, and can store up to 52 megawatt hours of power. It does this with a cost to Kauai of 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, locked at that price for the duration of a 20-year contract. That’s under half the price the island currently pays for power generated from burning diesel fuel, which is its prevailing source of energy. The new solar storage facility can build up enough energy to power 4,500 Kauai homes through the night, which is a significant number of households given the population of the island was at 67,000 as of the last U.S. census.

“In this way we can have very robust, reliable solar electricity delivered back to the customer almost 24 hours a day,” Straubel explained in Associate in Nursing interview. “This could be a terribly totally different style of project. typically you have got star panels directly coupled into the grid, or into your house, and that they feed their electricity in whenever the sun is out and whenever a cloud comes over they stop.”

Not solely will direct power generation while not a storage part have faith in smart sun exposure, however it becomes a liability instead of Associate in Nursing quality once deployed in giant numbers across a comparatively little community, or in high percentages of households normally. star panels adorn roofs across Kauai – you'll be able to hardly drive through any residential or industrial areas while not seeing one or two of installations.

The Kauai facility is supposed to point out what Tesla offers for higher-demand industrial comes, and it’s a stake within the ground that’s designed to pique the interest of energy suppliers the planet over – not simply those absolutely settled to create the foremost of accessible daylight, in step with Straubel.

“It’s directly a value profit,” Straubel same. “And that’s true in several places round the world, it’s not simply true on islands like this in Hawaii. It’s not intuitive; the majority, they assume this is often dearer still nowadays, however price|the value|the price} of star and also the cost of storage has return down thus quickly that these comes currently square measure cost-efficient in several locations.”

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