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Published on April 26th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Walmart Has Tesla Batteries Installed At 11 Locations In California — Tesla’s Commercial Ambitions Exposed?

April 26th, 2015 by  

With Tesla’s official unveiling of its new battery storage systems getting closer, the tension seems to be building some and speculation has been rampant, but some interesting details have certainly already come to light — amongst which is that Tesla is clearly aiming to sell its new battery systems to a wide range of large commercial markets/sectors, as evidenced by the fact that Walmart has already installed Tesla’s batteries at 11 of its California locations, as part of a pilot program with SolarCity.

A broader demonstration of this ambition is clear when a close look at California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) is taken. The company is actually already set to receive as much as $65 million via the alternative energy investment incentive program. (Tesla accounts for around 70% of SGIP storage projects connected to California’s grid, and half of all current applications, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.)


“Tesla has been able to install more than 100 projects, really without anyone noticing,” stated Andrea James, an analyst with Dougherty & Co. Also noting that the EV manufacturer’s energy storage business could be “worth as much as $70 to Tesla’s stock.”

Renewable Energy World provides more:

The SGIP database provides a snapshot of Tesla’s activities in its home state and is by no means a complete picture of the company’s storage ambitions.

But Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has been dropping hints for weeks, and yesterday the company told investors and analysts in an e-mail that Tesla will announce the home battery and a “very large” utility-scale battery on April 30. In the e-mail, Jeffrey Evanson, Tesla’s chief of investor relations, said the company “will explain the advantages of our solutions and why past battery options were not compelling.”

Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn said the company would share more information next week.

Given the currently rapidly expanding nature of the storage industry it isn’t surprising that Tesla is wanting to get in on it — especially as it will provide some redundancy and resilience to its electric vehicle battery production operations (via the under-construction gigafactory).

The company’s vision of the future certainly assumes that growth will continue. As Tesla’s CTO JB Straubel recently noted: “Energy storage on the grid will grow rapidly in combination with renewables. Eventually you’re going to have a 100% battery electric vehicle fleet, working in tandem with an almost 100% renewable electric utility grid full of solar and wind.”

At any rate, the official announcement of the battery system(s) is nearly here…. Just a few more days. In the meantime, here are some related stories:

As You Await Tesla’s Home Battery Announcement, Here’s A Battery Presentation From Tesla CTO JB Straubel

Another JB Straubel Presentation — The Future of Transportation (Video)

LG Chem Trying To Steal Tesla’s Home Battery Storage Thunder?

Image Credit: Tesla

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Wayne Williamson

    too cool…now just to install batteries at what…the other 10k location;-) go go go…..

  • Admiral Reality

    Batteries need to become drastically cheaper. I hope Li-ion batteries in electronics, cars, and this new class of product will drive the price of batteries down because there’s no way a 3000 dollar battery will cut my electricity bill.

    Peak-time prices in Ottawa, ON, Canada are 14 cents vs Off-peak at 7.2 cents… so yeah, it would be awesome to charge the home battery up off-peak and then use the battery at peak-time but realistically, $14 of the $70 I pay per month comes from peak-time use. It would be offset to off-peak and I’d pay $7 instead… a savings of 7 dollars per month. It would seemingly take a lifetime to break-even.

    Until home batteries are much cheaper they will only be useful to those who have an off-grid PV system or those that want a ginormous whole-house-UPS. It’s temping but I’m gonna wait for the early-adopters to drive the price of these things down.

  • ericogle

    The word you better get used to hearing: Graphene!!

    • vensonata

      You must be new to this site!

      • nakedChimp

        hehehe.. yeah, ven.. not a week going by without Tina blapping us with it 😉

  • Jouni Valkonen

    This is really big. It is almost unimaginable how blind people are that we are rapidly heading towards 100 % renewable energy. The economics already favor 100 % renewable energy, only thing that is lacking is the infrastructure.

    If we were to build from scratch our power grid and energy infrastructure, it would not be current baseload driven system, but smart grid that is 100 % or nearly 100 % powered by distributed renwable energy.

    I guess that the biggest obstacle for renewable energy is that for years we have been told that only dispatchable power and baseload has high value. This is not so, because in renewable energy economy, most of the adjustment comes from the flexible consumption of renewable power. That is, consumers need to adapt. And of course electric cars and distributed storage are the key incredients.

    But I guess that the most telling is that right now only Tesla is investing anyway seriously on EV technology and infrastructure. And also it seems that there were not many grid storage companies who were willing to take the lead. Few companies are developing the smart grid technology, but only Tesla is investing on scale.


    Ahhh more typical fuel cell hate in the comments. The irony and hypocrisy is off the charts as per usual.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Ahhh, someone so blindly in love with fuel cells that facts give them apoplexy….

    • Offgridman

      Sorry if you see this as hate, it is just questions. Wishing for a verified source in answering them just as is expected from any source of power generation.

    • eveee

      We don’t hate fuel cells. They need the right app and the right feedstock to be optimum. Jounis message holds out the hope for power to gas. From methane to transport via electricity produces more GHG than ICE. But used to soak up renewable overcapacity and create gas heat, it’s a good thing.

  • Offgridman

    While seventy million dollars seems like a lot of money for most of us it is a pittance compared to what Bloom Energy has gotten from the SGIP. Most recent reference that I saw said that they have put in for 300 million of this fund. This is for fuel cell generation that is using natural gas as the feed stock with the issue that there is some disagreement as to whether the resultant CO2 emissions from these fuel cells is actually better or possibly worse than current grid emissions overall in California.
    Just thought that this should be brought up before we get anyone hating on Tesla for taking advantage of the incentive programs in the exact same way that many (most?, all?) companies do in order to survive in the US business climate.

    • Shiggity

      The program works by taking money away from polluters and giving it to clean energy. The polluters control the media and are not happy.

      Tesla Motors also gets even more money through a similar mechanism with ZEV credits.

      The amount of fossil fuel salt is growing exponentially!

      • Offgridman

        Thanks, yes I understand how the program works, and agree with the basic premise.
        The questions that I found in several places about Bloom weren’t coming from the media though.
        The main issues seem to be with Bloom’s accounting and seeing that the right percentage of gas for the fuel cells was coming from methane from renewable sources, and not fossil fuels. And that so few of the fuel cells are making use of the heat as well as producing electricity, which was part of the original agreement to get the grants.
        So since these fuel cells are also a source of CO2, and Bloom is getting such a large percentage of the fund these questions need to be resolved in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety with our new energy sources.

        • Thanks. We’ve published a solid analysis on the FCEV end showing that they’re worse than driving a Prius. Haven’t seen a similar analysis for the stationary ones, but wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. What a shame if it is.

          • Offgridman

            Hi Zach,
            Thanks for chiming in, yes I remember how complex getting to the bottom of the FCEV question was and I’m afraid that the question on the stationary ones is just as problematic.
            First saw the reference to how much of the fund was going to Bloom energy a few days ago and have lost track of how many hours have been spent since trying to find the answer to the other questions.
            So must admit that it is beyond my abilities not to mention the research time required.
            While it would seem such a common sense thing to do of getting electricity and heat from renewable methane no one seems to be sure this is actually what happens and if it is worth the resultant CO2.
            Hope that you or someone you know has the time and ability to get to the bottom of these questions because as said before leaving them hanging isn’t helping the change that needs to happen.
            Have a good one

          • Matt

            Last time I read up on the stationary gas fuel cells, if you were not also using the heat then you should use them. That has been a few years, so might have changed.

          • Offgridman

            From what I have found, yes that is how it supposed to work people getting fuel cells are also supposed to implement the heat source.
            Maybe I am misunderstanding but it seems that Bloom isn’t required to see that it happens, it is left on the purchasers. So actual implementation numbers of people using the heat source vary from 5-50%, and I can’t tell which ones are right,because some are excused from having to do so.
            So just a very confusing situation of what is actually going on.

          • Jouni Valkonen

            Anyway, if we start electrolysing hydrogen with surplus renwable energy, it makes more sense to convert that hydrogen to liquid Diesel or Jet fuel than to convert hydrogen back to electricity. Electricity generation from hydrogen cannot really be more than 50 % efficient without waste heat capture, but if hydrogen is transformed to liquid jet fuel, we will gain roughly 95 % energy effiency.

            And most importantly, oil as an export commodity is far more valuable per energy unit than electricity. Therefore from economic point of view, it is more valuable try to offset imported oil rather than trying to generate electricity from electrolyzed hydrogen.

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