Tesla’s Texas Virtual Power Plant ASAP

Tesla Solar, Powerwalls, and Home Charging [credit: Tesla]

Hello and welcome back to “What’s Up Tesla.” I’m excited that the kids are out of school, and that summer has arrived.  Here in Texas, it seems every summer I hear a similar sentiment, “This one is going to be a hot one!”  This summer Texas could meet power demands better because Tesla is offering ERCOT an immediate solution.

Some weeks ago, Texans were warned by ERCOT, “With unseasonably hot weather driving record demand across Texas, ERCOT continues to work closely with the power industry to make sure Texans have the power they need. This afternoon, six power generation facilities tripped offline resulting in the loss of approximately 2,900 MW of electricity. At this time, all generation resources available are operating. We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78-degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers, and dryers) during peak hours.”

During this hot summer, Tesla is fully prepared to step in with a smart solution to the problem.  I learned details about this during a Workshop I attended on May 31. “Tesla Virtual Power Plant Workshop, Related to OBDRR041” was hosted by ERCOT and led by leaders at Tesla Energy.

Tesla Powerwall owners are an important and untapped resource for energy

Tesla battery storage at a home in Texas. Credit: MojoSusan

Tesla Powerall owners are an important but untapped resource for energy. Minor changes to ERCOT’s current practices can ensure a stable grid in Texas. Owners could act as an aggregate source of power, forming a Virtual Power Plant. Tesla built a demonstration test in which 64 Tesla Powerwall battery owners participated in providing energy as an aggregate. The demo showed impressive performance, proving that there were no technical blocks to these owners providing power to the Texas grid. 

“Nothing in Texas today lets homes behave like a hive mind and deliver clean MWs 24x 7 to the grid.” – Arushi Sharma Frank, Tesla Policy/Energy

Tesla is requesting for ERCOT to allow all interested Powerwall owners to contribute to the Texas grid as a combined cluster. All that is needed are minor changes to ERCOT’s current practices. Tesla’s slide presentation for their “Virtual Power Plant Workshop, Related to OBDRR041” was well done and informative.  I am sharing some of it here:

Problem Statement
Texas needs all available, affordable, dispatchable electric capacity/resources mobilized to address grid reliability challenges
Distributed energy resources are available today, but are unrealized dispatchable assets to ERCOT

Short-Term Solution
Minor changes to an existing, unutilized ERCOT market design concept developed 9 years ago, could immediately unlock grid reliability services from small distributed energy resources that can be dispatched as an "aggregation"

Tesla proved that it can bring grid services value to ERCOT with volunteer customers.
Tesla shows that distributed systems can respond in minutes or even seconds (faster than most gas or coal power plants).
These aggregated resources (batteries in this case) could also provide primary frequency response. The response is “immediate and automatic” to stabilize the grid.

In Summary

Tesla is offering a proven solution to the fragile Texas grid, currently operated by ERCOT. Tesla proved that their Virtual Power Plant can work extremely well. Their VPP can act fast, respond to load demand, and thus ensure that Texans’ energy needs are met. All that is needed is a small change in ERCOTS’ current practices for this to be a reality.

Tesla Powerwalls keep the lights on for Hannukah for one family. Credit: u/rocher

My thoughts

Tesla’s powerful energy software has precise capabilities to deliver stored energy to power a homeowner’s home and electric car, keep power stored up and also send energy to most local utilities for their use.  However, as Arushi Sharma Frank, Tesla Policy/Energy, explained clearly via twitter after the workshop, “Nothing in Texas today lets homes behave like a hive mind and deliver clean MWs 24x 7 to the grid.”  She explained that the main thing slowing down Tesla from unleashing this powerful lifesaving technology is “technical acrobatics.”

I listened to some of these “technical acrobatics” during the workshop, and as the minutes wore on, I was invited to comment.

I took the opportunity to explain that as a Texas-Registered Nurse, I am in the business of caring for families, some of whom were deeply affected by the last severe power outage in February 2021.  I explained that since Tesla has already demonstrated that they can provide power reliably through volunteer Tesla Powerwall owners, there should be no delay in allowing full participation as soon as possible. As a healthcare provider, I advocate for people in need. Having power is important to people’s health.

If you would like a closer look at Tesla’s excellent 24-Slide Presentation, the link is here. My article featuring Texas homeowners’ experience with Tesla Solar and Powerwalls is here.

Austin, Texas. credit unplash

Gail Alfar, [Edited by Sarah Alfar] Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blogpost was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. June 4, 2022

11 thoughts on “Tesla’s Texas Virtual Power Plant ASAP

  1. I own a couple powerwalls in south Austin, the only thing I would want is some ROI. I need to weigh the cost of giving the energy out vs. keeping it for myself. In that last storm, my powerwalls were topped up every day after I uncovered my solar panels, but we were ultra conservative at night, using only a single space heater and our fireplace. The storage capacity (27kwh) is very limited. VPP is only for temporary grid support, it’s not going to allow juice to flow when the powerplant is offline

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  2. […] η συγγραφέας στο Τι συμβαίνει Tesla;παρακολούθησαν και μοιράστηκε τις σκέψεις της. Επίσης, τον Μάιο, η Tesla υπέβαλε αίτημα στους […]

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  3. There are a number of renewable energy technologies that are related and inter-connected under the umbrella of “Virtual Power Plants” and all have their place as we move toward an efficient and “frictionless” and “decentralized energy” grid in Texas and throughout the world as we march toward “Net Zero Energy.” These include:

    Automated Demand Response
    Battery Energy Storage
    Bidirectional Power
    CHP Systems for commercial and industrial customers that are fueled with a renewable fuel such as B100 Biodiesel, Biomethane / Renewable Natural Gas or Synthesis Gas that also integrate “Waste Heat Recovery”
    Decentralized Energy
    Demand Side Management
    Flywheel Energy Storage
    Geothermal Heating and Cooling
    Frequency Regulation
    Hydrogen Fuel Cells – coming in a big way fueled by “Green Hydrogen” = “Fuel From Water!”
    Load Leveling
    Locational Marginal Pricing
    “Net Positive Energy” systems – producing more energy than customer needs to go back to the grid
    Nodal Pricing
    Peak Shifting
    Plug-In Electric Vehicles
    Solar Cogeneration
    Solar Panel Parking
    Solar Trigeneration
    Trigeneration plants for commercial and industrial customers that are fueled with a renewable fuel such as B100 Biodiesel, Biomethane / Renewable Natural Gas or Synthesis Gas that also integrate “Waste Heat Recovery”

    among others.

    As every customer location requires a unique Net Zero Energy solution – for their location on the electric grid, I believe we will see greater solutions based on a Locational Marginal Pricing or “Nodal Pricing” solution which will play a greater role as the grid evolves to “Net Positive Energy” solutions. The idea is to match the customer’s energy requirements, whether residential, commercial or industrial – at their location with the optimum Net Zero Energy solution for the customer as well as the grid, at every location.

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