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It’s just been revealed that there is construction underway of an enormous battery connected to a dilapidated electric grid. The battery-storage system belongs to one of Tesla’s subsidiaries, Gambit Energy Storage LLC and is situated next to a Texas-New Mexico Power substation.
Gambit’s battery system has been registered with Ercot (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), which operates Texas's electrical grid that supplies power to over 25 million Texas customers. This is a significant development for Tesla as it moves into the epicenter of the U.S. energy economy.
The battery is a 100 megawatt energy storage project in Angleton, Texas that could power an estimated 20,000 homes. Last month, the state was ravaged by winter storms leaving millions of residents without power for days. Tesla CEO, Musk who moved to Texas last year took the moment to have a dig at Ercot and tweeted “.@ERCOT_ISO is not earning that R” referencing the ‘Reliability’ in Ercot’s name. A day later, Musk was asked if Tesla could build a battery farm like they did in Australia. And Musk said, "Yes".
Although Tesla is well-known for its all-electric vehicles, the company has been branching out into the energy market for a few years. In March 2015, Musk launched the Powerwall, a home battery product, and then in 2016, Tesla acquired SolarCity, and since then the car manufacturer has become a strong player in solar energy. Its product offering has extended beyond America’s borders when in 2017, it launched its battery project in South Australia. The 100 megawatt battery system down under was the largest battery project in the world at its launch.
Musk has always been passionate about sustainable energy solutions and Tesla’s energy arm could potentially represent up to 30% of the company’s total revenue by the 2030s. That would be 6% more than what it accounts for today. Tesla’s energy storage business is growing as the company is able to aggressively compete on price.
Musk’s attention on Texas is due to the state being the dominant U.S. energy hub as it is abundant in natural gas, solar and wind resources, and of course, oil. Texas is on the map as it surges in growth as the place for renewable energy. However, the February storms have underlined how vulnerable the current system is, so with the construction of giant batteries by Tesla’s Gambit project, the Texan power grid could be transformed in a way that will be more resilient.
In aerial photographs taken by Mark Felix, sheets are covering the equipment at the Gambit construction site, and workers have been trying to keep things under wraps. They were instructed to discourage people taking photos, avoid drawing any attention and were asked not to answer questions from any curious people passing by. However, the registration and filing of Gambit Energy Storage LLC has exposed the secretive project.
The Gambit project was originally developed by San Francisco-based Plus Power, a privately held renewables company that has battery operations in several states A project summary available on the city’s website features images of Tesla’s utility-scale battery products, and some of Plus Power’s principal staffers previously worked at Tesla.
It’s not only Tesla moving into the energy hub, but there are also about 2,100 megawatts of battery storage and 37,000 megawatts of solar and wind are in advanced stages of connecting to Ercot’s grid.
Angleton is a relatively small town with a population of 3,000 people, and it is located in the middle of the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. Musk has made the right move going to Texas as the state offers a lot of opportunities for him to expand his energy business.
And although the winter storms were devastating, it has stressed the dire need for power solutions to be overhauled and upgraded to get in line with climate change policies and lead the way for other states in the transition to sustainable energy.