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Greece aims to modernize its islands with Tesla Powerpacks, microgrids

Is Tesla a car manufacturer or an energy company?
Key Takeaways
  • The Greek government is considering collaborating with Tesla to modernize the electric grids on its many islands.
  • The project(s) would involve microgrids connected to Tesla’s energy storage systems.
  • Tesla has helped to make energy storage technology better and more affordable in recent years.

The Greek government is considering collaborating with Tesla to modernize the electric grids on its more remote islands by installing microgrids connected to energy storage systems, according to a recent report.

It wouldn’t be the first time Tesla has transformed the power grids of remote islands. In 2016, the company installed a 1.4-megawatt solar array and a 6-megawatt-hour energy storage system on the remote island of Ta’u in American Samoa, where about 600 residents had long relied on diesel generators for power. The energy storage system there, comprised of 60 Tesla Powerpacks, can power the island for three days without sunlight, and at the time it was described as one of the most advanced microgrids ever constructed.

Tesla said the system served as a proof of concept.

“Ta’u is not a postcard from the future, it’s a snapshot of what is possible right now,” the company wrote. “Renewable power is an economical, practical solution for a growing number of locations and energy needs, and islands that have traditionally relied on fossil fuels can easily transition to microgrids powered by solar and storage today.”

Last week, Greece’s Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. George Stathakis, confirmed that he’d met with Tesla to discuss the possibilities of installing similar systems, which would help the company reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

“The extremely interesting thing that emerged from the meeting is that technological progress has now significantly reduced the cost of energy storage,” Stathakis said, adding that collaboration with the company could lead to “smart energy” islands.

Greece is reportedly looking at installing such a system on the island of Limnos in the Aegean Sea.

​Is Tesla a car company or an energy company?

Tesla is primarily known as a car manufacturer, but the battery technology that powers the company’s electric cars is steadily becoming a bigger part of the business, particularly within energy storage.

Tesla manufactures rechargeable lithium-ion battery energy storage systems called Powerpacks, which are able to connect to any electric grid and store large amounts of energy. Energy storage systems are crucial to the large-scale implementation of renewable energy because they make energy access more predictable, reliable and efficient, eliminating, for instance, worries of how people would get power from renewable sources when it’s cloudy outside or the wind dies down.

Photo: Tesla

In 2017, Tesla installed the world’s largest lithium-ion storage system storage in South Australia. To date, energy savings from the system are estimated to have made up for more than a third of its approximately $66 million construction cost. In June 2018, Tesla hit an important milestone in renewable energy by having installed more than one gigawatt-hour of energy storage around the world since 2015.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted last June that the energy storage market will grow rapidly.

“The rate of stationary storage is going to grow exponentially. For many years to come each incremental year will be about as much as all of the preceding years, which is a crazy, crazy growth rate,” Musk said.

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