Tesla battery storage tapped for Texas' first community solar project

Dive Brief:

  • The first community solar garden planned for Texas will use battery storage developed by Tesla Motors, according to documents filed with the Austin City Council.
  • Last year the city approved the 3.2 MW project for Austin Energy, the municipal utility, aimed at giving access to solar panels to residents who cannot install them on their home.
  • 1Energy Systems Inc., tapped to develop the project, told the city council it intends to use Tesla batteries for 1.5 MW of storage needed to help integrate the renewable power.

Dive Insight:

The Austin City Council on Oct. 1 is expected to consider a funding request from 1Energy Systems to spend $3 million on a battery storage project to be installed at the Kingsbery Substation as part of Austin Energy's community solar project. 

"Energy storage is a key component in Austin Energy’s renewable energy strategy due to its ability to address intermittency and variability in renewable energy sources," according to the recommnedation for council action. The systems are "currently in the developmental phase and uniform standards are in early development."

The funding recommendation notes that due the "relative lack of maturity of the technology and variability in application, projects require significant and specific research, analysis, and study." 1Energy Systems is behind a consortium of stakeholders who have formed the Modular Energy Storage Association, focused on developing the first open energy storage standards for interoperability.

Austin Energy is a member of the group; Duke Energy, the largest storage owner in the country, joined last month.

The community solar project will be constructed near the Kingsbery substation, and because distribution and substation infrastructure is already in place Austin Energy believes the energy produced is will be relatively cheap, with a long-term fixed price of $80 to $95/MWh ($0.08 to $0.095/kWh).

Even that, though, is expensive compared to the bids from solar developers Austin Energy is receiving today. In July, the utility announced it had received offers to buy solar power at under $0.04/kWh, at that time billed as the cheapest solar ever. Austin Energy has slowed its planned procurement of 600 MW of solar to capture more cost savings in the future.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables Energy Storage Distributed Energy
Top image credit: Tesla