October 21st, 2020 by Johnna Crider
Tesla has broken yet another record. This time it’s for energy storage installations. Tesla’s storage business deployed 750 MWh in Q3. Tesla noted in its Q3 earnings update that the production of its Megapack continued to ramp up at Gigafactory Nevada. Production volumes more than doubled in Q3 2020 compared to Q3 2019.
The demand for Tesla’s smaller Powerwall, made for homes, not only remained strong but is also growing. Tesla pointed out that many of its customers include a Powerwall with their solar installations. Tesla is also seeing “accelerating interest” in the Powerwall due to concerns around grid stability in California, where most of its buyers live.
While people focus on Tesla vehicle sales, its energy business is also growing fast.
In Q3, 57MW solar was deployed, 111% growth QoQ, and 759MWh battery storage was deployed, 81% higher than last Q.
— Ray4️⃣Tesla⚡️🚘☀️🔋 (@ray4tesla) October 21, 2020
Tesla believes that its energy business will ultimately be as large as its vehicle business.
Meanwhile, it has created a strategy of low-cost solar priced at $1.49/watt in the US after the US tax credit is applied, something CleanTechnica spoke with Tesla CEO Elon Musk about last month, and this is having an impact. For more on that matter, read: “Elon Musk Explains Why Tesla Solar Power Is So Cheap — CleanTechnica Exclusive.”
Tesla’s total solar deployments more than doubled in the third quarter versus the second quarter — to 57 MW. Solar Roof deployments have almost tripled.
Tesla also recently demonstrated a 1.5-day Solar Roof install. Installation time is one of the key areas of Tesla’s focus to accelerate the growth of this program. Tesla provided photos of its 1.5-day Solar Roof install in the quarterly report. The photos were taken at 7:30 in the morning, at noon, and at 2:00 pm the following day. Have a look:
For Tesla to accelerate this growth, it is continuing to hire hundreds of electricians and roofers. This means jobs. Tesla is providing jobs, and in this economy, after the devastating lockdown that left millions jobless, that is refreshing news.
“We continue to see growing interest in our cars, storage and solar products and remain focused on cost-efficiency while growing capacity as quickly as possible.” —Tesla Q3 2020 Update
Breakdown of Tesla’s Energy Business Growth
In Q3 of 2019, Tesla deployed 43 MW of solar and 477 MWh of energy storage. That grew to 54 MW of solar and 530 MWh of energy storage in Q4 2019. The first two quarters of 2020 then saw significant drops, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Q1 of 2020, Tesla deployed 35 MW of solar and 260 MWh of storage. In Q2, it deployed 27 MW of solar and 419 MWh of storage — where we saw storage starting to grow rather quickly again.
Then, this past quarter, we see Tesla fully bouncing back from the previous quarters, with 57 MW of solar deployed and 719 MWh of storage deployed. This is where the record-breaking comes into play — Tesla had more solar deployed than it did in Q4 2019 and more storage deployed than it did in Q4 2019.
Why Tesla’s Solar Is So Inexpensive
As noted above, last month, CleanTechnica CEO Zach Shahan conversed with Elon Musk to try to clarify how Tesla was offering rooftop solar panels so cheaply. The answer is that Tesla cut out a lot of the “soft costs” of solar, which means the non-hardware costs.
“Solar panel cost is only ~50 cents/Watt. Mounting hardware, inverter, and wiring is ~25 cents/Watt. Installation is ~50 cents/Watt, depending on system size,” Elon told Zach. “The other solar companies spend heavily on salespeople, advertising, and complex financing instruments. We do not.”
Solar panel costs have been coming down for everyone a great deal. (See: “Solar PV Panels Were 12× More Expensive In 2010, 459× More Expensive In 1977.”) Tesla benefits from that, but it goes a bit further by cutting marketing costs, financing costs, and system design costs.
Tesla doesn’t have salespeople going door to door (something not too smart during the covid pandemic anyway) and can use that money to hire the electricians and roofers needed to install solar panels and glass-tile Solar Roofs instead.
What about Electric Vehicles?
We will write about electric vehicles (EVs) separately, but on the EV side briefly, Tesla is also driving down electric vehicle costs consistently, and as we saw on Battery Day, it is engaged in cutting costs further in many ways. Tesla is obsessively focused on cutting costs.
As the focus from oil, coal, and gas shift toward renewables, Tesla will shine like a beacon in the night–which leads me to expect even more growth not just in Q4 2020, but in the next few years.
On the Tesla conference call earlier today, Tesla’s executives repeatedly mentioned their work to continuously cut costs.
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