Tesla CTO: Bulk Energy Storage Will Grow Much Faster Than People Expect

Tesla CTO JB Straubel

Much ado about energy storage at the Intersolar 2015 opening keynote.

At the standing-room-only opening keynote at Intersolar 2015, all the talk was on the future of solar and how energy storage was helping to pave the way for greater adoption of it. Dr. Eicke R. Weber, the director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) opened the show outlining the great progress that solar has made in the past two years by stabilizing supply and demand. “Therefore in 2016, 17, 18 you will see production capacity and the market catch up, which means we should not expect further falling prices for PV modules,” he said, adding “You can expect stable prices and maybe even some modest increases.”

Next up was Tesla Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel who offered a vision for the future of energy storage and PV. Straubel believes that the energy storage industry is “right at the precipice” of massive cost declines like PV experienced. “The next decade is going to look very different because all of the demand [for energy storage technology] coming from stationary energy storage and from electric vehicles — from many different companies not just Tesla — will change the demand curve and slope in a huge way,” he said. “It’s kind of like the difference between solar used for pocket calculators and satellites VS solar used for buildings. The demand is orders of magnitude higher and puts it on a different trajectory for cost declines.”

To put it in numbers, Straubel believes that the demand for batteries coming from just his company will be something like 35GWh of energy storage by 2020. “That is more lithium-ion capacity than existed in the entire world in 2013.”

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