One of the huge pieces of news coming out of Tesla’s conference call last night was that 38,000 reservations have been made for Tesla’s Powerwall (but with an average above 1/reservation resulting in something more like 50,000 Powerwalls or more), as well as ~2,500 reservations for the much larger Powerpacks. This has apparently even blown Tesla away, and looks to mean that Tesla is sold out through the middle of 2016. I don’t think anyone can put it in better words that Tesla CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk himself, so here’s a transcript from that portion of the conference call:
“The response has been overwhelming. Okay… like, crazy.
“In the course of less than a week, we’ve had 38,000 reservations for the Powerwall, 2,500 reservations for the Powerpack. The Powerpack, it should be noted, typically — this is bought by utilities or large industrial companies, for heavy industrial work. Typically, Powerpack, it’s like at least 10 Powerpacks per installation, so if there’s 2,500 reservations, there’s actually 25,000 Powerpacks.
“Powerwall also, we suspect, is probably an average number of Powerpacks is probably 1½ to 2 per installation. So, you know, so, 30,000 reservations is more like 50,000 or 60,000 actual Powerwalls.
“I mean, there’s like no way that we could possibly satisfy this demand this year. And we’re basically, like, sold out through the middle of next year… in the first week. It’s crazy.
“We had 2,500 requests from companies that want to distribute or install the Powerwall and Powerpack. We can’t even respond to them. We have to, like, triage our response to those who want to be a distributor. So, it’s like crazy off the hook.
“It seems to have gone super viral.”
Later on he said that they could “easily have the Nevada Gigafactory just do stationary storage,” clearly indicating that even the production capacity of the Gigafactory (or Gigafactory #1) isn’t enough for demand.
Elon also mentioned that Tesla expected demand for its stationary storage, as measured in megawatt-hours or gigawatt-hours, to be approximately double that of the car.
SolarCity Comments About Economics of the Powerwall… in Context
Answering a question about a SolarCity spokesperson saying that the Powerwall doesn’t really make sense for most homeowners yet, Musk stated:
“For the specific case of SolarCity, what they’re referring to is that, there’s two version of the Powerwall — there’s the daily cycling version, and there’s the Powerpack version. One’s energy optimized and one’s daily cycling optimized. For the daily-cycling-optimized one, the economics is true in the US, with rare exception, are more expensive than utility. So, if somebody wants to do daily cycling — basically, go off grid — it’s going to be more expensive than being on grid.
“This doesn’t mean that people won’t buy it, cause there are people who want to go off grid on principle, or they just want to be independent. That’s what the SolarCity comment is about.”
CTO JB Straubel then chimed in:
“It might also be worth noting, SolarCity doesn’t yet operate in Europe, and the main target application for the daily cycling battery pack was actually — were several markets not in the continental US, and particularly Germany and Australia are very strong markets where it does make economic sense today based on the feed-in tariff and the electricity rate structures in those countries. So, you know, SolarCity’s comments, I think, need to be sort of put in the regional context.”
Elon Musk again:
“Yeah, SolarCity’s only operating in the US, and the Powerwall will be available from SolarCity and from other solar installers in both configurations, but if someone’s doing the daily cycling application, they’re doing it specifically because they want grid independence, and there are some number of people who will want to do that, and that’s good.
“It’s also important to appreciate, even the power backup system so that you always have power in the event of a power outage, let’s say that appeals to like 2% of households in the US, or 1%, that’s a million households — like, does one person in a hundred care about having battery backup in the event of a utility outage, probably. We couldn’t even support a small fraction of that right now, so it’s kind of a moot point.”
Tesla Powerwall Chemistry vs Tesla Powerpack Chemistry
And he mentioned that there are indeed different chemistries in the two Tesla Energy products. The backup power option, the Powerpack, is quite similar to that in the Tesla Model S and X, using a nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode. The daily cycling option, the Powerwall, is made of nickel-manganese-cobalt (with “quite a lot of manganese in there”). The first is meant for ~60–70 cycles per year, and the other one for 365 cycles a year. Tesla expects the Powerwall to last for approximately 15 years, ~5,000 cycles (but with the warranty being 10 years). The Powerpack is expected to last for, “depending on how it’s used, anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 cycles.” And they have comparable calendar lives.
Elon also emphasized that, on the utility level, the Powerpack is basically competing with (expensive) peaker plants. On the other hand, the Powerwall is more aimed at complementary use with wind and solar energy. Furthermore, Tesla expects most of its energy business to be at the utility and heavy industrial scale, probably 5–10 times more MWh being deployed at the utility and heavy industrial scale than at the consumer scale.
Tesla Powerwall Inverter
Clearing up some misperceptions about the Powerwall, Elon noted that the product does include “a DC-to-DC inverter that can interface directly with a solar panel installation. And if somebody has a solar panel installation, they’ll already have a DC-to-AC inverter for the solar panel system, and so no incremental DC-to-AC inverter is needed.”
If you want to listen, you can listen to the whole conference call here.