Tesla founder, Elon Musk is creating sparks in Germany and it has nothing to do with Berlin’s Giga factory or his visit to CureVac.
Recently, the American-based electric car manufacturer acquired a license for Tesla to trade electricity across western Europe and they surveyed German customers to assess the feasibility of using Tesla electricity in their cars. Seems Tesla is setting the stage to partner with utility companies in Germany as it is Europe's largest power market and automotive hub.
With Tesla generating and trading power, it could create a huge advantage for the EV company. It could also increase the competition with utility companies like EnBW and Vattenfall who are investing in electric mobility services. Tesla is a few steps ahead though with its current solar panels and Powerwall battery system for homes. But as things go with Tesla, more is better. So, now the EV carmaker is looking at selling electricity directly to customers and use the home storage system to provide services to the grid.
In June, Tesla became a member of the Paris-based EPEX Spot power exchange, which is a platform to trade western Europe's daily cross-border electricity. Then in July, Tesla starting surveying German customers about their interest in energy services. According to Reuters, a copy of the survey included questions such as "What would encourage you to switch from your existing energy supplier?" and "Would you buy a Tesla photovoltaic system and home storage (Tesla Powerwall) if you could switch to a specially designed Tesla electricity tariff?"
Tesla's interest in renewable energy was the driving factor behind choosing the Brandenburg state around Berlin as the site for its new Giga factory. During the first half of 2020, around 65% of the electricity on the Brandenburg grid was generated from renewable sources, primarily wind. However, as is common around Germany, the energy is often wasted because the networks are limited in how much green power they can transport over long distances.
Tesla's Berlin Gigafactory will need 100 megawatts (MW) of power and up to 400 MW if the battery cell production is launched. The company is still a long way from creating enough battery assets to deliver frequency regulation at grid-scale, but as we can see Tesla is definitely headed in that direction. And according to a British newspaper report, Tesla applied for a UK license to supply power and it is creating a platform to bring users of its solar and Powerwall battery system into the Australian electricity market.
It seems obvious for Tesla to move into the production of renewable power and could even use its own locations like the roofs of its factories. This could help the EV company make a stake in the ground. Tesla's long-term plan certainly looks like it is going to tackle the energy industry in a big way and that will depend on how much it is going to invest in this area.
This week, Elon Musk visited Germany to check on its Giga factory and CureVac partnership. Musk made no reference to its mini-factory visit but he did tweet that his trip was successful:
Great trip to Germany. Support from government & people is super appreciated!
We can only expect to hear more exciting news coming out from that part of the world as we wait in anticipation for the construction of Berlin’s Giga factory to be completed. The Tesla CEO has also made a few comments that a redesign of the way the cars are manufactured in Berlin will be unveiled at Battery Day later this month.