Tesla battery updates – what they mean for the energy sector


Lower battery prices, more sustainable batteries and cheaper electric vehicles are some of the prospects from Elon Musk’s Tesla Battery Day announcements.

True to the hype that surrounds any announcements from Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk, some 275,000 people reportedly tuned in to hear the latest news that will impact on the energy transition and electrical transportation and many other sectors. And at time of writing over 1.8 million had viewed it subsequently.

Musk entitled his presentation ‘Accelerating the time to sustainable energy’ in which he presented two goals – first, to achieve terawatt hour-scale battery production; and second, to make more affordable cells to both scale the production and lower the cost of stationary battery storage and EVs.

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According to Musk approximately 10TWh of batteries are needed annually for EVs and 20-25TWh per year for up to 25 years for full electrification of homes and businesses and 100% renewable integration. For comparison, these capacities are respectively 100 and 1,600 times greater than the current production.

“We need better manufacturing and to get the cost of batteries down,” Musk said, promising to halve the cost per kilowatthour with improvements across the value chain from cell design to the anode and cathode materials, the assembly process and cell-vehicle integration.

These should translate into an approximately 56% reduction in the end price of the batteries. But they are likely to take up to 18 months to start being realised and three years to be fully realised, he added.

Specifically, Tesla’s targets are a battery output of 100GWh annually in 2022 ramping up to 3TWh by 2030.

Furthermore, once at a steady-state output of 20TWh, the elements within the batteries, lithium, nickel and cobalt, will be cheaper to recycle than to mine, Musk said. For this purpose, Tesla also plans to ramp up its recycling activities.

The prospect: cheaper behind the meter and grid-connected storage, more sustainable battery supply and cheaper and potentially accelerated uptake of EVs with its associated infrastructure requirements.

Commenting on Tesla’s achievements in his shareholder presentation, Musk said that its products had provided 5GWh of stationary batteries, 17TWh of solar-generated and over one million EVs.

He also claimed the company was delivering the cheapest solar energy in the US at $1.46/W both in retrofits and with its solar glass roof.

Alongside the battery developments and more affordable EVs, Musk also promised to increase the output of Tesla EVs, stressing the need for a factory on every continent. For example, he expects that the new Shanghai factory could reach an output of 1 million EVs per year and Tesla’s long term goal is 20 million EVs per year.