Tesla Powerwall + owners and more can join Tesla Electric in many areas of Texas. Photo courtesy Tesla, Inc.

TESLA ELECTRIC IS HERE TO STAY 

Tesla Powerwall + owners and more can join Tesla Electric in many areas of Texas. Photo courtesy Tesla, Inc.
Tesla Powerwall + owners and more can join Tesla Electric in many areas of Texas. Photo courtesy Tesla, Inc.

When President Lyndon Baines Johnson asked his driver why it took so long for him to drive from Texas to Washington DC, his driver asked him if he knew about the *green book. 

Lyndon’s communication with his driver is one of the things that drove him to push for & pass multiple policies for civil rights. I believe Lyndon may have thought, “I’m the damn president, I can make change, so this doesn’t have to happen! “

In February 2021, Elon Musk and part of his family were in Texas. Storm Uri happened, and there were nearly 5 days in that deep winter freeze where there was no water or power for most people, including Elon and his family. 

Elon received a lot of sympathy for suffering through that, but I’m actually glad he experienced it. When people in great positions of power realize the discomfort that other people are going through, they are the ones who can act to make change.

Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act, Equal Housing Act and Voting Rights Act. He declared a “war on poverty.” 

Since storm Uri, Elon Musk has made sure that Tesla has poured resources into Tesla Energy for Texas. Talented people, and I’ve met some of them, have been given support to build up the Texas grid. I know firsthand that Tesla Energy policy leader, Arushi Sharma Frank has dedicated time to leading efforts in Texas since 2020 to establish new ways to power up the Texas grid with sustainable energy. 

Good things don’t come easy.  Just like it took an extraordinary amount of people working together through unimaginable challenges to enact the Civil Rights Act and many other laws to help humanity, it is taking monumental efforts to strengthen the Texas grid.  Tesla Electric is the beautiful result of the blood, sweat and tears of many.  

Angleton Texas now has 81 Tesla Megapacks that support the Texas grid.

Tesla ran a successful virtual power plant pilot program involving at least 64 Texan homes, keeping the lights and AC on during high demand in the summer.

I spoke at the Tesla Energy Virtual Powerplant Workshop advocating for people’s health. “As a healthcare provider, I advocate for people in need. Having power is important to people’s health.” (reported on by Johnna Crider here)

And now Tesla has unveiled Tesla Electric here in Texas. Tesla Electric is a new product offering. Just like you can buy a Tesla vehicle or purchase Tesla solar + Powerwalls, now many people in the state of Texas can purchase their electricity exclusively from Tesla Electric. 

At first, I asked myself how this could help people who do not own a Powerwall or Tesla solar?

I view this as one of the many steps that it is going to take to transition the state of Texas, and ultimately the rest of the USA to sustainable energy. 

TESLA ELECTRIC

To accomplish this in Texas is significant. I once saw Texas as the epicenter for big oil in the USA and that is shifting thanks to Elon Musk.  Now I envision Texas becoming the epicenter for sustainable energy. The home of Tesla Electric. The Headquarters of Tesla. 

So before you think of dismissing the significance of this new product by Tesla, think about how impossible it felt to so many people in the south that the Civil Rights Act could be passed. Nothing is impossible if it’s designed for good.

I met Elon Musk in July 2022 and asked him about protecting the Gigafactory with sustainable energy in the event of another storm. But Elon’s concern clearly was not about keeping his business running in a storm. He turned quiet, taking some time to answer and his answer was clearly based on how people in the state could be helped in the event of another severe winter storm. 

I’ll leave you with that recording, linking to it on my Twitter account here so you can listen for yourself.

Elon Musk talks to Gail Alfar during an interview. He wants to keep the lights on for people.

In this world when powerful people live through the same difficulties that regular people live through, that’s when we see change. We can see change for the better. 

*The annual guidebook was first published in 1936 and helped African Americans safely navigate the roads of a segregated country. Green wrote this guide to identify services and places relatively friendly to African Americans so they could find lodgings, businesses, and gas stations that would serve them along the road. 

Gail Alfar and Elon Musk after an interview at Giga Texas, June 25, 2022.
Gail Alfar and Elon Musk after an interview at Giga Texas, June 25, 2022.

Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – December 18, 2022. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization. Header image Courtesy Tesla, Inc.

Elon Musk: This is Part of Master Plan Part 3

Welcome back to What’s Up Tesla! I’m celebrating today with you the fantastic opportunity I had to meet Elon Musk at Gigafactory Texas this past week.  I was invited to be present during Johnna Crider’s interview for her podcast, “Getting Stoned: Interview With Elon Musk.” So let’s have a slice of Pecan Pie, and enjoy! 

Elon Musk explained details about Master Plan Part 3 and making sure the power stays on in an easy-to-understand way. I am excited to share his words with you in this article!

3 Pillars to a Sustainable Energy Future

In the interview, Elon Musk said

“There are three pillars to a sustainable energy future. 

One is electric transport, the other is sustainable power generation, primarily through solar and wind, and then the third is stationary battery energy storage because the sun doesn’t shine all the time and the wind doesn’t blow all the time. 

You’ve got to store the energy while the sun is shining and the wind is blowing in the stationary batteries and then those batteries provide power to the grid. 

We can have a fully sustainable energy earth just with those three things. 

Tesla is working on all those three things.”

“There are three pillars to a sustainable energy future.” – Elon Musk

“The stationary battery part is a big deal and we are ramping that up. 

It’s going to be a very big part of our business long term.  It’s a very important part of the total energy solution for earth. 

Our estimate is that you need about 300 Terawatt hours of energy storage or 300,000 Gigawatt hours.  Other people may come up with different numbers but in order to fully transition the earth including all electricity, transport and heating, I think it’s probably around that number. 

So, that’s a lot of batteries that need to get made.  And if you assume a battery life, before it gets recycled, of 20 years roughly, then you need 15 Terawatt hours a year of annual production at steady state.  So, 15,000 Gigawatt hours a year.

Our current production is much less than that.  I think we might be approaching 1000 Gigawatt hours or thereabouts at this point.”

Giga Texas Battery Cell Production [credit: Tesla]

Master Plan Part 3

“And this is like my, sort of, my Masterplan Part 3. It’s about scaling. How do we scale?

How do we get to that fully sustainable energy economy?

And what tonnage do we need of what materials?

And what is maybe the best way to get all of those materials and turn them into batteries?

But the fundamental governor of the rate at which we can transition to sustainability is the rate at which we can grow the output of lithium-ion batteries.”

100% Renewable Multi-Customer Microgrid Is Now Operational at PG&E credit: PG&E

In response to Johnna’s comment that the weakest part of Texas is the grid, and here comes Tesla trying to strengthen that weakest part, Elon replied

“The batteries are helpful even without sustainable energy because they can sort of load balance the grid so if you have power spikes the batteries can absorb the power spike. 

If it dips or there’s a drop in power or an increase in power, like power fluctuations, the batteries can smooth it out. 

And so the Tesla Megapack and Powerwalls and stuff can be really helpful for stabilizing the grid even in the absence of sustainable energy.”

Making Sure the Power Stays on in Texas

I asked Elon Musk if he could talk a little about Distributed Energy Resources [DERs] and if Gigafactory Texas could be protected in the event of an emergency, Elon replied,

“Well, I think this is going to be in terms of batteries, a combination of large batteries, sort of utility-scale batteries with very big installations. 

Like we just did a big thing with PG&E at Moss Landing in California which is going to be very important for maintaining power in California.  There is a number of other installations happening. 

And then at the local level, you’ve got the Powerwalls that collectively can stabilize the grid within a neighborhood. 

So, the combination of centralized batteries with Megapack and distributed batteries at homes and businesses with powerwall working together can have a very positive effect in making sure the power stays on.” – Elon Musk

Tesla Megapacks at Moss Landing with PG&E [credit PG&E]

I stated that I think it brings people hope when we think about how much people depend on energy for just about everything.  Elon replied,

Absolutely, energy is the foundation of the economy.  Civilization would crumble immediately if we didn’t have it.  There would be mass starvation. Terrible. – Elon Musk

Conclusion

Elon Musk wastes no time explaining that Tesla is working on the three pillars to a sustainable energy future. These are electric transport, sustainable power generation, and stationary battery energy storage. Elon’s Master Plan Part 3 aims to quickly solve the problem of how to get to a sustainable energy economy. Elon said, “the fundamental governor of the rate at which we can transition to sustainability is the rate at which we can grow the output of lithium-ion batteries.” Energy is the foundation of the economy. Elon stated, “the combination of centralized batteries with Megapack and distributed batteries at homes and businesses with powerwall working together can have a very positive effect in making sure the power stays on.”

My thoughts

My impression of Elon Musk is that he’s extremely focused and dedicated. His attitude was one of genuine kindness and enthusiasm about doing the interview. Several times he also expressed a sense of urgency about wanting to get to work with the Tesla Team at Giga Texas that day.

The conference room the interview was in gives you a floor-to-ceiling view of the inside of the gigafactory [see below]. Factory sounds were present, including Model Y horns beeping beyond the glass. We are all a witness to the beginning of something very big. Gigafactory Texas will soon produce an unprecedented number of Model Y, batteries, and Cybertrucks at a steady, fast pace.

Many people are interested in learning more about energy storage, so to have the chance to ask Elon a question about Distributed Energy Resources [DERs] and keeping Gigafactory Texas’ power on was a real honor!

What would you ask Elon Musk if you had the chance?

Gigafactory Texas as seen from the interview conference room. [credit Gail Alfar, All Rights Reserved, June 25, 2022]

Want to read more excellent articles? I suggest…

You can subscribe to this blog here, and you can listen to the entire interview with Elon Musk here and on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Gail Alfar. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – This blog post was created utilizing STARLINK satellite services. All Rights Reserved. July 3, 2022

Tesla Autobidder

Hello! Welcome back to What’s Up Tesla! As a Tesla owner and supporter, I am constantly learning about the incredible creations of a company I once just associated with nice cars and solar products. Though it was confusing at first, I have come to an understanding of yet another aspect of Tesla. Autobidder is an amazing piece of software created by the Tesla team. I am excited to share Autobidders’ incredible features with you and explain why it is so important.

Tesla Solar Panels and four Powerwalls [credit: Tesla]

Tesla creates software to optimize battery storage systems. The purpose of Tesla’s Autobidder software is to allow the owner of a Tesla Powerwall to sell their excess power to the grid automatically and at the best price. The software automatically bids a competitive price to a buyer. Tesla explains Autobidder,

Autobidder provides independent power producers, utilities, and capital partners the ability to autonomously monetize battery assets. Autobidder is a real-time trading and control platform that provides value-based asset management and portfolio optimization, enabling owners and operators to configure operational strategies that maximize revenue according to their business objectives and risk preferences.

Autobidder is already being successfully deployed in South Australia at the Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR). This market bidding has added competition to drive down energy prices. Tesla Powerwalls and Megapacks are much more valuable assets to their owners if they are managed by the Tesla Autobidder System. Tesla explains it this way,

Batteries are highly flexible assets, but they require smart strategies and software to realize their full value. Autobidder allows owners to realize this value by handling the complex co-optimization required to successfully stack multiple value streams simultaneously, including:

Wholesale markets, including energy, ancillary services and capacity

Transmission & Distribution-level grid services

Renewable firming and shaping

Bilateral contractual arrangements

Other portfolio needs

Telsa Megapacks and Solar [credit: Tesla]

“Autobidder operates at every scale: from aggregations of behind-the-meter residential systems to 100 Mega Watt utility-scale installations” – Tesla

Example of Tesla Autobidder Software in action [credit: Tesla]

Tesla Ecosystem Includes Autobidder

The Tesla 2021 Impact Report explained how Autobidder is part of the Tesla ecosystem,

“We are designing and manufacturing a complete energy and transportation ecosystem. We both develop the technology behind this ecosystem and focus on the affordability of the products that comprise it. We seek to achieve this through our R&D and software development efforts as well as through our continuous drive to develop advanced manufacturing capabilities.” – Tesla

My thoughts

I expect the electricity grid in my state of Texas to improve rapidly when ERCOT allows residential battery storage to create temporary microgrids to help in emergencies like tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather conditions. When Tesla Powerwall customers in Texas and beyond can participate in the free market and sell power, families will stay safer including yours!

If this topic interests you, consider attending a workshop through ERCOT hosted by Tesla, “Tesla Virtual Power Plant Workshop Related to OBDRR041 by Webex Only.” Date/Time: May 31, 10:00 am. If you are unable to attend, the meeting should be available in the archives here.

Downtown Austin, Texas [credit: Jeremy Bank]

Gail Alfar, [Edited by Sarah Alfar] Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – All Rights Reserved. May 29, 2022