Tesla has announced a proposal for its largest energy storage project date, a power plant in California that will be capable of producing "up to 1.1 GWh” in the California desert.
The project would be a partnership with the California investor-owned utility Pacific Gas & Electricity (PG&E). The publicly traded PG&E covers the northern two-thirds of California, making it responsible for the electricity in around 5.2 million homes. The two groups want to build a lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) with 182.5 MW.
Tesla would supply the BESS with its Powerpack energy system. In addition to its most well-known product, its cars, Tesla also has separate energy divisions that have had their share of ups and downs. Last month, the company announced layoffs believed to hit its solar installation division. With this latest proposal, the company appears to be putting a greater emphasis on what it's built with its cars: batteries.
A single Tesla Powerpack holds 16 individual battery pods, and is extremely scalable. Tesla's already shown that scaling process can work in Australia, the world's current largest lithium-ion battery in 2017. According to the proposal, PG&E would have the ability to expand its new facility to running 1.1 GWh. While Tesla would supply the hardware, PG&E would own and operate the facility.
Tesla and PG&E have proposed their BESS be built near the Moss Landing Power Plant, near California's Monteray Bay. PG&E approximately 100 proposals for land usage near the shuttered site, whose 500-foot twin smokestacks are iconic in the region and have been since 2017.
While this would be one of Tesla's largest Powerpack deployments yet, the two companies have worked together on smaller projects. Tesla lithium-ion batteries are holding electric storage 50 miles north of Sacramento.
Energy storage projects like these for an energy grid, especially one that relies on renewables. If solar panels or wind turbines are producing more energy than their infrastructure can handle, for example, that excess can be siphoned off into storage. And then when the wind isn't blowing as hard, that stored electricity can safely re-enter the grid and keep the flow consistent.
Keeping up with the massive amounts of electricity that renewables can produce can push even up-to-date, modern infrastructure systems. When there's a wind energy surplus, like the one that happened in Texas in 2016, wind turbines risk being turned off.
The proposal is subject to approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E.