Tesla has launched a demonstration project in Texas to show that its Powerwall battery owners can create a virtual power plant that would be able to feed energy back to the state grid.
The company has filed a request for a rule change with the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) that would clear the way for utilities to bid on capacity stored in batteries, reports PV Magazine.
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Volunteers who opt into the demonstration would be make their Powerwalls available to establish the capabilities of a fleet of home-based storage units. “What’s in it for those Powerwall customers that participate in at least 80% of the tests is a $40 Tesla gift card, and they also may gain the satisfaction of participating in something larger than meeting their own energy storage needs,” the news story states.
Texas’ electricity grid has repeatedly failed to maintain reliability during extreme heat, as well as winter snow and ice storms. But unlike other parts of the world, Texas does not allow battery owners—from utility scale to homeowners—to provide needed backup to the grid. Tesla’s rule change request could reverse that, if it’s approved.
Tesla will control participating customers’ Powerwalls, including charging, discharging, and configuring the devices to automatically respond to grid conditions and support tests that demonstrate grid services. Tesla may charge or discharge the Powerwalls at any time and to any extent during the demonstration, but the company agrees not to draw any one battery below 20% of capacity, so that all the units can still be used for local backup.