Home / Blog / Virtual Power Plant

Virtual Power Plant

A Tesla Powerwall, a 13Kwh battery storing energy captured by solar panels. Image credit: Tesla

Tesla makes electric cars and to make them they need to make batteries. Having perfected this technology it was no surprise when Tesla announced battery packs for the home that can be used to store excess power produced by solar panels on the roof to be used once the Sun would set. These battery packs would also turn up handy in recharging the batteries of the car.

In 2017 Tesla announced the Powerwall 2, a stylish battery pack with a 13KWh of power storage capacity, at a price around 8,000$. Price went up as production cost increased but it went down again and now it is priced around 6,500 $ (but you need to add some other equipment when using it to recharge your car’s battery and there is the installation cost that varies depending on the work required in that specific location).

In 2018 Tesla enter into partnership with Southern Australia government to equip some 50,000 homes with Powerwall 2 to store power produced by solar panel. If you do the math, that would mean a total storage capacity of 675MWh a significant amount of power!

The idea was to leverage on such power in form of a local smart grid. The problem with single power storage is that when you have to use it you may run out of it pretty soon. On the other hand, most of the time it will sit there idle. By having a smart grid connecting thousands of Powerwall you can average out the demand and be sure that when one user needs power it will get it.

In the last weeks Tesla has completed 3,000 homes and it should increase the number to 4,000 in a50,000 few more months. That is still a fraction of the planned 50,000 but it start to be significant in terms of a smart grid. It should start to bring economic value and most important should show its sustainability. The goal is to create a virtual power plant by connecting thousands of small generators, using the Powerwall 2 as distributed power supplier.

For an in-depth view of Powerwall 2 and their insertion into a Smart grid take a look at this. In the clip below you get the marketing pitch.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.