Many people think Tesla is an automotive company that also happens to make batteries, but in fact it is a battery company that also happens to make electric cars. Showing the world how to use less fossil fuel — or none at all — is central to the company’s mission.
The installation of the 100 MW/129 MWh energy storage system for South Australia is well along. That’s the project Elon Musk said would be completed in 100 days after the contracts were signed or it would be free. 80% of the Powerpack units for that project have already been installed, which means the project is ahead of schedule. The income from that contract will not be recognized until the project is complete.
In the third quarter, Tesla deployed 110 MWh of energy storage products. That’s up 12% from the second quarter and an increase of 138% from the same quarter last year. Most of that business consisted of Tesla’s residential Powerwall units. Tesla is adding promotional displays about its residential solar panels, Solar Roof, and battery storage products to its stores and service centers. As a result, more Tesla vehicle customers are buying those products, justifying the cross-selling strategy the company initiated last year.
Tesla has shipped hundreds of Powerwall residential batteries to Puerto Rico along with solar panels and Powerpack grid-scale storage units to help the residents of that beleaguered island recover from the effects of Hurricane Maria. “We are also actively working with various organizations to offer Tesla’s energy generation and storage solutions that are cost effective and can provide long-term distributed energy to the island.” Tesla expects its efforts in Puerto Rico and the South Australia project to lay the groundwork for “many similar projects, but at an even larger scale, in the years ahead.”
Production of the much anticipated Solar Roof is being transferred from the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, to Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. The company expects installations to ramp up slowly in the fourth quarter, then increase considerably next year as Tesla fine tunes the production and installation process. The company has transitioned from a lease model to a cash sale model and expects half of its rooftop solar income will be from those cash sales going forward, which will boost revenue growth and improve cash generation.
Tesla makes no secret of the fact that it intends to disrupt the utility and energy generation industries just as much as it is disrupting the automotive sector. Energy generation and storage are arguably more important to lowering world carbon emissions than electric cars are. While all eyes are on Model 3 production — disappointing news drove the price of Tesla stock down more than $10 a share on Wednesday — the long-term value of the company is directly tied to its power generation and storage efforts. That’s the area professional investors focus on.