Texas is about to be the recipient of electrical largess from Tesla CEO Elon Musk – he will build a large battery that will connect to the Texas grid.
Gambit Energy Storage LLC, which is registered as a Tesla Inc. unit, is building an 100-megawatt energy storage project 40 miles south of Houston. This battery would store enough electricity to power 20,000 homes during the heat of the south Texas summer. It could potentially reduce or eliminate the rolling blackouts commonplace that time of year attributed to users running their air conditioning units.
However, the Lone Star state suffered blackouts for essentially the opposite reason – unusually cold winter weather for the state. On Feb. 21, during the peak of the winter storm that hit Texas with record cold and snow fall, more than 4 million people were without power, according to the Associated Press.
Much of Texas’ electrical power is generated via natural gas. The state also owns its power grid, which is not connected to larger power grids across the country. During the February freeze wind turbines and solar panels froze, a major nuclear plant lost half of its generation, and there were massive failures in coal, oil and natural gas. Demand surged, meanwhile, as people accustomed to mild Texas winters turned on their heat.
Not Musk’s first rodeo
Musk’s answered the bell in the past. In July 2017, Tesla won a contract to produce a 100 megwatt-hour lithium-ion, grid-style storage system for South Australia. The company won, in part, because Musk guaranteed he’d build it within 100 days or it would be free: a $50 million bet.
The battery facility was built on a wind farm operated by the French company Neoen. It was designed to be the largest lithium-ion storage battery on earth, surpassing what was supposed to be an 80 megawatt-hour battery in California, which also uses Tesla batteries. It was cut down to 20 megawatts ultimately.
The dedicated battery farm can power 30,000 homes for up to an hour, which relieves the burden on the grid during hot summer days when failure is most likely.
Energy storage has been a part of Musk’s plans for Tesla for a while, repeatedly saying it be a big part of Tesla’s future. It “could be bigger, but it will certainly be of a similar magnitude,” Musk said during an earnings call to the media in October 2019.
Getting comfy in the Lone Star state
This story comes at a time when Musk’s operations in Texas have been growing. Aside from him personally moving to the state, Gigafactory Texas, the new manufacturing facility near Austin, has been under construction since July 2020. Tesla aims to have it up and running by the end of 2021.
Recent news reports on March 2 stated that Tesla is also going to build an additional state-of-the-art manufacturing plant for SpaceX company. It is Musk’s satellite company, which designs manufactures and launches rockets and spacecraft.
And in early March, Musk’s SpaceX unveiled details in a public notice detailing plans for a multi-acre site along the Gulf of Mexico that will contain two orbital launch pads, two landing pads, two structural test stands for Starship and the Super Heavy booster, a large “tank farm” to provide ground support equipment for orbital flights and a permanent position for the totemic “Starhopper” vehicle at the site’s entrance.