Tesla reported that its energy storage deployments grew 71% year over year in the first quarter of 2021, driven largely by what it said was the popularity of its Powerwall product.
The company said that rooftop solar deployments reached 92 MW in the first quarter, its strongest quarter in 2.5 years. Solar roof deployments grew 9x compared to the same period last year. The growth curve slowed, however, from the fourth quarter of 2020 when the company installed 86 MW.
CEO Elon Musk told an earnings call that the company had made some “significant mistakes” with its solar roof project. Recent price volatility reflects a realization that the complexity of roofs varies dramatically, he said. The company’s recent shift to sell rooftop solar and energy storage as a package is intended to streamline installation by ensuring that power goes to the battery system before reaching the electric circuit breaker.
Musk said that a software update for the Powerwall could enable as much as a 50% power increase over the 5 kW of real power currently specified. The company said that demand for Powerwall “continues to far exceed” its production rate. As a result, the company said it shifted Powerwall deliveries to solar customers only. As production rates increase, Tesla said it may make the energy storage system again available as a stand-alone product.
The company said that the February snowstorm in Texas and other blackout events continue to drive customers toward home energy storage. Even so, it said that energy storage deployments can “vary meaningfully quarter to quarter” depending on the timing of specific project milestones, which is the driver behind the company’s reported sequential decline in megawatt-hours.
The company deployed 260 MWh of storage in the first quarter of 2020 and 1,584 MWh in the fourth quarter. The pace sagged to 445 MWh in the first quarter of 2021.
Musk said that Powerwalls could be used to stabilize the grid and operate as a virtual power plant. He said the concept is likely to gain traction as electric vehicle adoption increases.
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