Tesla wants to create a virtual power plant with its Powerwall batteries

Elon Musk’s company offers its Californian users to be paid for their home battery to supply energy to the state’s electricity grid.

Total Energie, EDF and Engie have just called on the French to drastically reduce their energy consumption or run out of reserves this winter. The Tesla company is experimenting with a complementary track in California to deal with the same problem, as reported by the media ArsTechnica. It encourages Californian users of its Powerwall home battery to supply the state’s electricity grid to ensure its stability. By aggregating the services of a large number of small individual houses, this would form a kind of virtual power plant (VPP).

This call is part of a public program led by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) designed to reduce the demand for electricity in the event of an emergency. Participants can set a minimum battery reserve that cannot be drawn on except in the event of a general network outage. They will be paid $2 for each kWh supplied by the Powerwall. Tesla doesn’t seem to take a commission on it.

Cheaper and “cleaner” energy

In total, users commit to having their battery deliver at least 20 hours of power output. However, California’s heat spikes could cause them to exceed that target. But they have the right to withdraw from the program at any time.

For PG&E, the benefits are twofold. On the one hand, it avoids paying for overpriced production sources at critical times. The 2 dollars per kWh granted to small owners of batteries is therefore a lesser evil. On the other hand, this alternative is less impactful than generators for the environment. The Powerwalls produce and store energy from solar panels or the electricity grid during off-peak hours.

This approach is not entirely a first for Tesla. In 2018, the company partnered with the state of South Australia to use solar power for thousands of homes equipped with its home battery.

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