According to the company, the demand for the energy products that Tesla offers in addition to its electric cars was again high in the first quarter of 2020 – but could not be fully served with either photovoltaic roofs or electricity storage systems. Tesla said in a first quarter report and in a conference call with CEO Elon Musk and CFO Zachary Kirkhorn. Two milestones were also announced: Tesla installed its first megapack, i.e. a huge stationary battery storage, and the 100,000th unit of its home storage product Powerwall.
Fall in Tesla installations
Nevertheless, it looks as if Tesla’s energy division had to stand back again at the beginning of the year – CEO Musk had already stressed its long-term importance at the end of 2019, but explained that he had to neglect it in the short term in order to get a grip on the production of the Model 3. In the last quarter of last year, Tesla’s photovoltaic and storage business picked up pace again, but now there was a significant decline in both areas relative to this, and sales were also lower compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
In figures, Tesla installed 35 megawatt hours of photovoltaic power in the first quarter of 2020, with no distinction between private and business customers. That was about a third less than in the fourth quarter of 2019. In the case of stationary batteries, there was even a decrease of around 50 percent to 260 megawatt hours compared to the end of 2019. The comparison to the same quarter of the previous year looks somewhat better: Although the number of installations in photovoltaics also decreased by around 25 percent, Tesla installed a good 13 percent more battery storage.
Revenue from the energy business totaled $282 million in the first quarter of 2020, according to another Tesla announcement, after $316 million a year ago. This division continues to account for only a fraction of the sales of electric cars, which Tesla recently reported as $ 4.9 billion in the quarter.
Tesla order book is getting fatter
At least on the demand side, the energy area continues to grow, according to Musk. Interest in large-scale storage batteries has passed a turning point, said the CEO, Tesla’s order backlog is growing. There are currently several projects for large-scale storage that are much larger than the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, which Tesla has implemented in Australia (and recently expanded by 50 percent) . The first megapack, a Tesla industrial storage product for battery parks up to 1 gigawatt hour, which was launched in summer 2019, was installed in the first quarter.
With regard to photovoltaics and especially the roof tile product Solar Roof, the Tesla boss reported a lot of demand. In this case, according to Musk’s words, their operation was prevented less by the availability of the solar roof tiles than by insufficient capacity for the installation (and towards the end of March due to restrictions due to the coronavirus). “The problem is building the installation team with external installers from the roofing industry,” he said.
1000 teams for solar roof installation
Tesla wants to have at least 1,000 of these teams, who will build a photovoltaic roof every week, Musk continues. In this way, the target rate of 1000 installations per week can be reached within twelve months or maybe even later this year; In the long term, more is possible, and markets outside the United States would then also get the Tesla roof. For its solar gigafactory in the state of New York, Tesla had already reported in mid-March that it had first produced enough solar tiles for 1,000 roofs in a week. Production is going well, Musk said now, the difficult part is the installations.