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Tesla doubles power in commercial Powerpack battery

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 31, 2016
The Powerpack 2, with twice the capacity, is no larger than the original battery system

Ahead of an expected announcement of a new rooftop shingle solar power system today, Tesla unveiled the second iteration of its commercial lithium-ion battery storage system -- the Powerpack 2.

The Powerpack 2 doubles the power capacity over the original Powerpack from 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) to 200kWh.

Powerpack 2 is also now matched with a new inverter, designed by Tesla and manufactured at the Gigafactory.

The original Powerpack contained 16 individual battery pods, each with an isolated DC-AC converter. The "pod" architecture and onboard power electronics allowed for individual units to be easily swapped out, Tesla said.

powerpack modules Tesla Energy

Inside a Powerpack system are individual battery modules that can be changed out.

Tesla is betting on solar and battery storage systems, having partnered with Panasonic to manufacture batteries in its Gigafactory outside Reno, Nev., and having announced its intent to acquire SolarCity, the nation's largest residential rooftop solar installer.

Research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts massive growth in the energy storage market, first in utilities, then in corporations seeking to reduce their overhead costs.

The "Global Energy Storage Forecast, 2016-2024" shows that the annual investment in energy storage systems will increase six-fold to $8.2 billion in 2024.

The Powerpack 2 is a redesigned and reengineered system that integrates a bi-directional inverter without a transformer that, while doubling the electricity capacity, keeps the same system footprint as the original.

Tesla's new inverter, which is the electronic device that changes direct current (DC) electricity coming from solar photovoltaic panels to usable alternating current (AC), is modular; uses updated power electronics that offer better performance; delivers 99% peak efficiency; and responds faster to commands.

The improvements in the Tesla inverter contribute to a higher power density per square foot. The inverter can operate in grid-tied or off-grid (behind the meter) applications, and can switch between both conditions.

"It is the lowest cost, highest efficiency and highest power density utility-scale inverter on the market," Tesla stated in a blog today. "It also significantly simplifies the installation process of the entire Powerpack system by integrating a number of previously independent components into the inverter itself."

The original Powerpack system retailed for $25,000 each. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the Powerpack can scale infinitely, even powering small cities.

The full price of the Powerpack 2 will be available on Tesla's website and will combine the battery, inverters and cabling/site support hardware.

Unlike Tesla's Powerwall battery system, which has 5kW of steady output and 7kW of peak output and marketed for home use, the Powerpack is aimed at being an energy backup for businesses that can also alleviate peak loads drawn from standard utility systems. That can help businesses avoid or reduce peak demand charges.


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