At the annual Silicon Valley Energy Storage Symposium Tesla Motors CTO, and SolarCity board member, JB Straubel said on behalf of Tesla that, “We are an energy innovation company as much as a car company”. He was responding to a question about Tesla’s growing involvement in the production of stationary energy storage.
Straubel spoke about how Tesla pioneered the use of lithium-ion batteries in cars back in 2003, and now almost every automaker has a lithium-ion vehicle in the works. He said the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries in cars has also been aided by the “amazing” improvements in battery technology during the past decade.
In the five year period between the release of the Tesla Roadster and the Tesla Model S sedan, lithium-ion battery performance improved 40%. In the past 10 years battery energy density has doubled, and the improvements have not yet plateaued.
As we’ve previously reported, Tesla is set to build a “gigafactory” for the mass-production of lithium-ion battery packs, as it intends to scale its electric car production up to 500,000 cars a year, or more. However, some of the factory production will be set aside for the production of stationary energy storage.
In fact, Straubel stated that he thinks stationary energy storage can “scale faster than automotive”, and that battery packs for residential energy storage (for solar power) have the same architecture as vehicle batteries, so it’s well within Tesla’s capabilities.
Straubel thinks the stationary energy storage market is going to grow faster than people think, and that the fast growth of renewables on the grid will drive that growth over the next decade.