Tesla’s energy business (Tesla Energy) often ends up playing second fiddle to the admittedly more exciting automotive business, but that doesn’t mean it’s not growing. In Q2, Tesla increased deployments of its 13.5 kWh Powerwall 81%, according to the Q2 2019 investor letter, to a record 415MWh.
Tesla said in the letter that the sharp increase in Powerwall deployments means they have now been installed at more than 50,000 sites around the world. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed that Powerpack installations also increased in Q2 in parallel to the increase in Powerwall deployments.
The update is some of the first tangible evidence we have that the company is getting better at balancing battery cell production at its Sparks, Nevada Gigafactory 1 with downstream demand in both its automotive and energy businesses. The automotive side of the business continues to grow like gangbusters, nearly doubling the existing deployed fleet every year, and now Tesla Energy is getting in on a bigger piece of the Gigafactory 1 pie.
It is this exponential growth that makes the cell production and downstream demand such a challenge. The company has increased its battery cell production capacity at Gigafactory 1 to around 28 gigawatt-hours, according to CEO Elon Musk on the Q2 2019 earnings call. That figure has the factory bumping up against its original target production capacity of 35GWh a year. (The target has risen much higher since then.)
GF1 production expansion came not only from Panasonic’s side of the business in cell production, but also at the module level, where a new module line designed by Tesla Grohmann Automation “enabled a step change in energy storage production.”
The solar side of Tesla’s Energy business continues to dwindle, with solar retrofit deployments of traditional solar panel systems declining to 29MW in Q2. Tesla made some headway in streamlining the sales process for its energy products in parallel to automotive sales, but the company has yet to deliver on the promise of scaled production and adoption of solar.
The Solar Roof is perhaps the ultimate golden egg for Tesla. Some of us believe (and some don’t) that the Lego-esque snap-together roof replacement that just happens to generate solar energy is the future of rooftops everywhere. Deployments of the Solar Roof are growing, according to reports from numerous Tesla employees, but we have yet to see concrete financials from the company in support of this progress. Also, there is no apparent solution underway for dropping sales of rooftop solar panel systems. Presumably, Tesla needs to find more ways to capitalize on the synergies between its automotive business and its solar power system business.
Do you have any other thoughts on the Tesla Energy portions of this technology company out of Silicon Valley?
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