Tesla Motors Inc ’s addition of an inverter to its second-gen battery units could have huge market implications even when capacity (up) and cost (reduction) have been the focus of much of the hype around the newly released Powerwall 2. This is what Simon Hackett – CEO of Australian energy storage company Redflow and seasoned cleantech investor – thinks.
Tesla taking a page from Apple’s playbook
Redflow produces zinc-bromine flow batteries, and in the residential battery storage space, its newly released ZCell gives strong competition to Powerwall. In a blog on Monday, Hackett said that the launch of the Powerwall 2 by Tesla with a built-in AC inverter marks a certain breakpoint for producers of home energy storage systems, by “taking a leaf from the Appleplay-book of vertical integration.”
Hackett writes that the main goal of the inverter is to establish Tesla as a single entry point for storage systems and energy generation in the home environment. The concept is similar to what Apple tries to do with its product ecosystem. Hackett notes that the EV maker has both the resources and the name to become a strong player in this realm.
However, Redflow CEO believes that this “vertical stance” will take Tesla Motors Inc in the opposite direction to rest of the industry that “has tended to more of a horizontal orientation: a commercial ecosystem.” Such ecosystem provides choice at all layers of the energy storage system, by using standardized interfaces to enable a mix-and-match assembly of devices in the solution ‘stack.’
Alienating its allies
Also, this move puts the electric car maker into direct opposition to its former allies, Hackett says. Solar Edge, producer of the inverter of choice for the real Powerwall, is not required with Powerwall 2 anymore. Same goes for Fronius, which produces a three-phase inverter that supports the first Powerwall version, says Hackett. Also, the release impacts SMA. Recently, SMA released its SMA Sunny Boy Storage, a high voltage DC Tesla Powerwall-compatible battery inverter, which is superfluous to requirements now.
Overall, Hackett says that every time Tesla sells a unit of Powerwall 2 with integrated AC inverter, the existing vendor (inverter/charger/energy control system) will record one less sale. So, Tesla’s new approach can be said to divide the market into two – “with a distinct sensibility developing that is akin to the long-term battle of Apple vs Android in the smartphone market,” says Hackett.
‘Founders Series’ Powerwall 2.0
In separate news, Tesla Motors Inc – in a newsletter update – announced that it will be adding a red ‘Founders Series’ Powerwall 2.0 to its latest Referral Program prize list. It will be hand signed by CTO JB Straubel, Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen, and CEO Elon Musk.
The update says that the owners with seven or more qualifying referrals will get an exclusive red Founders Series Powerwall 2.0. This home battery storage unit boasts a slimmer design and twice the energy storage capacity than its 1.0 predecessor.