Tesla Battery Yields Solar Power Storage At SolarCity

December 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Innovating with power storage technology from Tesla Motors (TSLA) could give rooftop solar installer SolarCity (SCTY) a sales-pitch boost over rivals.

They’re cousin companies headed by billionaire Elon Musk — he’s CEO of electric-car company Tesla and chairman of SolarCity, while also running the private SpaceX commercial space-flight firm that on Tuesday launched a rocket, carrying a satellite, 50,000 miles into space.

SolarCity stock rose 3.3% Thursday following word of a sort of tech spinoff — not like Tang or moon boots — but a battery system, from Tesla. SolarCity is making it available to business customers who have solar panels installed, sometimes on a nothing-down long-term lease.

 View Enlarged Image

The power storage system, called DemandLogic, allows the solar panels to in effect provide round-the-clock power, or at least can reduce the need to pay a utility for power at costly peak times.

“We’re deploying a couple hundred solar systems with storage and most of those are focusing in California,” Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO (and Musk’s cousin), told IBD in September.

Then Wednesday came a formal debut.

“The economics and scale that Tesla has achieved in the automotive market now make stationary energy storage more cost-effective and reliable than it ever has been in the past,” Tesla Chief Technology Officer and co-founder JB Straubel said in SolarCity’s announcement.

Small-scale storage for solar power remains nascent and has been generally considered cost-prohibitive — but analysts see more technology development ahead. Startups such as Stem, with backing from General Electric‘s (GE) GE Ventures and other investors, do offer energy-management programs that incorporate storage.

Some current and planned large-scale solar plants, particularly the solar thermal kind, feature storage, but of a different nature — for instance Abengoa’s Solana plant in Arizona. Its “thermal storage,” Rhone Resch, president of Solar Energy Industries Association, told IBD, will let the plant “run into the evening.” (The plant is planned to have six hours of molten-salt storage.)

SolarCity expects to install about 278 megawatts of solar power this year and said in October that it could top that by 71% to 89% in 2014. A lot of it is residential. Other publicly traded solar companies that do installations include SunPower (SPWR) and SunEdison (SUNE).

Related: SolarCity Expands On Demand, But No Model S Delivery.

Comments are closed.