As many eagerly await their Tesla Solar Glass roofs and Powerwalls, the company has gone the extra mile and applied to the UK’s Gas and Electricity Markets Authority. At first glance, this application for approval to operate as a utility provider seems related to their home solar and battery solutions. However, while that wouldn’t be incorrect, the answer is actually a bit more complicated than it first seems.
Since Tesla’s major foray into grid-level solutions, with the deployment of their South Australian battery pack, they have been getting many requests from provincial governments to come handle their unique grid problems. One of these problems, is the split-second calculations that come with deciding when to store and when to expend energy, so that it can round off the peaks of consumer usage.
For example, if the batteries hold excess power from clean-generated solar or wind during the day when it’s not needed, then that energy has a lot of value for later in the evening, when it is less available but the grid is taxed the most. That difference in value from midday to evening could allow large providers of energy (or store-holders in Tesla’s case) to sell off megawatts for huge profit, especially if their systems can accurately calculate those profitable times to release the batteries’ payload.
That is where Tesla’s UK utility registration comes into place. Their system, called Autobidder, allows for energy companies to feed in and out of the grid to batteries seamlessly. As far as legislation goes, many jurisdictions allow individuals to use this kind of solution on the residential level, but the grid-level adoption is a whole nother can of beans. Tesla has found success with some utility companies, such as California’s PG&E.
As time goes on, and Tesla starts producing more large battery deployments, this could work in tandem with a neural-net of residential energy producers as well. Either way, this kind of registration, like patents and trademarks, can be a very exciting arbiter of things to come.