Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. But I can't by law give you advice, and I do make mistakes. Remember: the unexpected sometimes happens. Oddly enough, the expected does too, but all too often it takes longer than you thought it would, or on the other hand happens more quickly than you expected. The Goddess of Markets punishes (eventually) greed, folly, laziness and arrogance. No matter how many years you've served Her. Take care. Be humble. And don't blame me.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tesla's Q2 shareholder statement

We still keep on getting comments that renewables won't work, because grid stability/renewables variability.   But that ignores the advent of cheap storage.  Tesla's introduction of the PowerWall (for households) and the PowerPack (for businesses and utilities) will revolution electricity storage and the functioning of the grid.

This article about Tesla's second quarter note to shareholders is most interesting.

Musk makes the point that storage will halve the need for power plants EVEN WITHOUT RENEWABLES, because we have had to build extra power plants to cope with high demand at peak periods.  Batteries can do this better, and cheaper.  Add renewables to the mix and most power plants will be redundant.  And before you mock the man as too optimistic, recall that 5 years ago Tesla sold as many cars a year (800) as it sells in a week now.

But that doesn’t mean Tesla needs renewables to sell batteries, founder and CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday.
“It seems like people link this too much to renewable energy,” Musk said during Tesla’s Second Quarter earnings call. “Of course we are great believers in renewable energy, but that is not the gating function for stationary storage.”
Ultimately, said Musk, storage allows utilities to turn off power plants or defer new ones.
“You can basically, in principle, shut down half of the world’s power plants if you had stationary storage" he said.
Utilities currently have to build power plants to meet peak demand, and then some. Batteries allow utilities to store energy when demand is low and use it when demand is high, without turning on more power plants. [read the full article here]

There is a limitation, though:  how rapidly we can deploy storage?  The output of Tesla's giga-factory is now already committed for the first year of its life, so that is the true  constraint on switching to a coal-free future.  It's not the cost of renewables, which are now cheaper than new coal plants.  It's not the cost of storage.  Tesla has solved that.  It's the supply of batteries.

It matters, because the world continues to warm.  Once again, the latest month's data (for June) were the hottest ever.  The 12 months moving average shown in the chart below shows a sharp spike to new highs.