Tesla Semi Will Drive Tesla Energy to Terawatt Scale By 2030

As I watched the delivery of the Tesla Semi to Pepsico, there was a critical moment. The critical moment was when Elon said that Tesla could charge a one-megawatt-hour battery in 30 minutes. This would take nearly a week using a regular charger installed at your house. By deduction, this meant that Tesla megachargers will have to be connected to electrical grid substations.

It also meant that in order to reduce strain on the electrical grid with many semi trucks charging, Tesla and Semi customers will be forced to use Megapacks to buffer the electrical grid. This means perhaps a Megapack for every ten Semi trucks. Tesla could connect at some level with ten of thousands of volts and then store power in Megapacks for even faster delivery. Level 4 superchargers will be delivering the power that would be equal the usage of thousands of homes into fastly charged trucks.

Elon Musk and Tesla have talked about Tesla energy becoming larger than the car business. Currently, Tesla energy is only 10% of Tesla revenues. How will Tesla Energy grow more than fives times versus the over 50% per year growth rate of the Tesla car business?

It turns out the scaling of the Tesla Semi will be critical for Tesla Energy to reach terawatt hours of scale. It is also a critical component of Master Plan 3.

In March 2022, six years after Master Plan part 2, Musk announced that he is working on a Tesla Master Plan Part 3. Master Plan part 1 was about Roadster and Model S. Master Plan Part 2 was about Model 3 and Y and self driving. Master Plan Part 3 is all about achieving very large scale. In order to shift the entire energy infrastructure and transport infrastructure of earth, there has to be a very high scale.

China’s battery makers have made huge investments in lithium-iron batteries. They have put about $200 billion into factories to scale from 600 GWH/year of batteries this year to 2 Terawatt hours of batteries in 2025. There will be about 500 GWh to 1 TWh of batteries from non-China sources by 2025. This battery production will more than double by 2030.

50 million electric cars per year would need about 2 terawatt hours of batteries. Adoption might be that fast by 2025 but there are only about 8 million electric cars produced in 2022. We would have to almost double each of the next three years 15M in 2023, 30 million in 2024 and 50 million in 2025.

There will be extra batteries in 2025 of 500 to 1500 GWh. The Semi trucks use a lot of batteries. About 850 kwh for Tesla 500 mile range truck and 510 kwh for the 300 mile truck. Tesla said they want 40,000 per year in 2024. This would need nearly all of the 40 GWh made in Nevada’s Panasonic plant. going to 200,000 trucks per year would need almost 200 GWh/year of batteries.

The 1-2 megawatt per hour charging rate that Tesla described for supercharger 4 would require Tesla to place supercharger 4 stations at main electrical trunk lines where electrical substations are located.

The megapacks with 3.9 mwh of storage in a shipping container would only be able to charge four to eight trucks before needing to be fully recharged. there will be a need for about one megapack for every 10 semi trucks. The megapacks will needed at the new charging stations and to buffer the electrical grid.

40,000 semi trucks could require about 4000 Megapacks.

The trucks and mega charging stations will get Tesla energy ramping to its first terawatt hours of demand.

Twitter Space tomorrow:

17 thoughts on “Tesla Semi Will Drive Tesla Energy to Terawatt Scale By 2030”

  1. Question: As we transition to electrical power for vehicles, there needs to be a corresponding increase in electrical generation, because moving from gasoline/diesel to electricity is not zero-sum.

    Does anyone have a friend who works for a major electrical utility? What are they doing to make sure there is enough generation to meet demand? Wind/solar helps, but is there enough renewable power coming online to satisfy a rapid transition?

    I keep watching as more and more petroleum refinery capacity is being shuttered. Who wants to invest in refineries when so many government laws require them to be obsolete by 2030-2035? The International Energy Agency and the Department of Energy are very vague about this.

    • We weren’t solvent with 3×1.2GWe nukes within a single fenced area while making 43% of the power in the state WITHOUT a state subsidy of $10/MWh-e that went into effect in 2019. That state subsidy will be replaced by a federal $15/MWh-e subsidy in 2024 so long as the Inflationary Climate Change Bill reaches implementation – money printer go brrrr.

      What are utilities doing to prepare? Nothing. It’s all a vibe kinda thing right now. If electric prices rise to make new generation assets worthwhile, then new gas turbines can come online within 18 months.

  2. Has Musk ever described why the electrification of passenger vehicles and semi-trucks is his vision?

    Obviously, it would be cheaper not to adopt these things in the short term, and the answer will be anything but clear in the future (i.e. Did we save the world?).

    Does Musk

    A) agree with the green alarmists and scientists that sea level shall not rise or fall relative to this day, and should it do so, the cause is my guilty desire to be comfortable.

    B) read DC well enough to realize that the federal government will continue to make this worth while for him, as they have with SpaceX.

    C) other options? Please share.

    • I for one, believe that electrified propulsion is a better overall, future-proof technology – even if stays temporarily leashed to ICE in a hybrid form, even at a current-ish higher ‘per mile’ and ‘per year’ (of ownership) cost. It aligns with Musk’s values of an individualistic, capitalistic, techno-topia with a reduced centralization of utilities, regulatory-over-reach, etc. The ideal form being the techno-redneck (but friendly and humourous) in his house/ ranch/ bunker with his various EVs plugged into a combination solar roof/ panels and pack – smart grid set-up. He is remote and in-charge; surveying the raw land around for as far as his eyes can see. His family of 6+ look on admiringly; he is going to space today. Gas stations and hydrogen infrastructure are lame and unreliable in price and availability. Mars will be populating soon with his Craft. His equipment comes via local super-distributor’s Semi – no driver, just efficiency. His communication fast and pervasive though sLink. This is the lifestyle of the Musk.

      • “It aligns with Musk’s values of an individualistic, capitalistic, techno-topia with a reduced centralization of utilities, regulatory-over-reach, etc.”

        But doesn’t the car get updates over the cell network? Won’t Tesla brick your car if you don’t get required maintenance/updates in timely fashion?

        “Gas stations and hydrogen infrastructure are lame and unreliable in price and availability.”

        I don’t get this comment. Hydrogen infrastructure is non-existent, “lame” is an opinion, and while the cost of petrol is variable, the issue appears to be political. I’ve never waited in line for gasoline and I live in the most densely populated US state.

  3. The only way a near term vehicle could charge at megawatt is if it had a 900 kWh pack like the class 8. As far as 1000 volts the higher the better.

    It’s inevitable that once most vehicles are electric, there will be contacted, and contactless direct power on expressways. It should be first implemented on long uphill grades. The regen can go into batteries.

    Near field might work best for cars and light trucks. with class 7, and 8 using overheads. The contactor on the truck won’t be like the mast on an electric trolley. It will be more like a big fly fishing rod with an oval cross section.

  4. No, the math does not support the statement that the semi superchargers will make Tesla reach a TWh of battery usage.
    10 trucks necessitate a megapack. So 10 trucks with each 1 MWh necessitates a megapack with 5 MWh of capacity. I.e. increasing by 50%. So 200k trucks would need 200 GWh, and take 50% on top of that… 300 GWh.
    And that is if the megapacks are necessary for megachargers.. Not clear that they are..

  5. So the rapid scaling of Tesla Energy is the flip side of accommodating Tesla Semi. By building the Megacharger system, Tesla is also building a distributed utility scale storage system that can substitute for peaker plants and soak up excess renewable output from Wind and Solar. Because Tesla controls the whole thing via cloud software and knows and to some extent can adjust when every Truck charges and at what rate, it can balance loads. Tesla Energy already has distributed power plants and software that acts as an energy market for complex grid networks that this just extends it. Truck users have a monetary incentive to usually follow the dictates of Tesla Energy about scheduling, routes, when to charge, charge rates etc.

    This would be helped by a HVDC North American grid to facilitate load balancing on a Continental scale and it’s equivalent elsewhere in the world. China and Europe have been doing more to achieve it.

    • “Truck users have a monetary incentive to usually follow the dictates of Tesla Energy about scheduling, routes, when to charge, charge rates etc”

      Truck users are incentivized by the demands of their customers first and foremost before anything else including driver safety and basic road safety.

      Customer first is basic common sense where freight is concerned, and it always will be no matter what fuel or motor makes the wheels go round.

      That this did not occur to you first is a sign you may have been down the Tesla hype rabbit hole a little bit too long.

  6. “Tesla megachargers will have to be connected to electrical grid substations.”

    If true then this raises the cost of semi use as you must pay more of land next to a substation, and every charging trip incurs extra time and charge to reach the charging station. (time is money)

    “Semi customers will be forced to use Megapacks to buffer the electrical grid.”

    If true then this too would also raise the cost of semi use as you have to buy several MWhr of batteries to support your fleet.

    This is all manageable just some extra costs.

    • “Just” some extra costs? Electric semis better be awfully cost effective to begin with, to justify another layer of costs.

      • I don’t disagree at all. I’m pointing out that the infrastructure costs are not trivial. The ROI proposition for electric Semis is there when we remember that they are most cost effective when doing delivery to congested cities where stop and go traffic is BRUTAL on diesel MPG. EV semi’s with regenerative breaking would really stand out.

    • Your home has to be connected to an electrical grid substation, and your home does not have to be located immediately beside said substation.

      The statement in the article was not clear about whether colocation with a substation is necessary. The requirement probably is that it has to be located somewhere that has the ability to deliver enough power to the charging station to supply all the chargers at once (reduced by the amount the on-site Megapacks will be able to supply). Colocation with a substation is one place that probably would satisfy the requirement. Location in many industrial zones of a city probably would also satisfy the requirements, depending on how much power the existing distribution lines are capable of delivering to that industrial zone.

      Adding new distribution lines to raise the amount of power available to an industrial zone certainly is possible, but cannot be done overnight. It probably would take a lot longer than it would take to set up a charging station.

      At least some of the customers for the Tesla semis will be using them to carry goods from factories located in electrically well-served industrial areas, so it might be practical to put the charging stations for their Tesla semis at their factory. The capacity of the distribution lines to the areas where the Tesla semis are to be based certainly will be a factor that will have to be considered when deciding where to base the semis.

  7. The grid can handle the voltage drop from large loads just fine. See aluminum smelters. Just serve them with a dedicated transformer.

    Storage for fast charging is to minimize demand charges, not to solve technical problems.

    • I agree there are a lot of things on the grid that consume much more power than a semi. Aluminum production, metal recycling, and water pumps. During the 500 mile tesla semi test drive it drove over Thejon pass. not far from the freeway is the California aqueduct. At the base of the base of the pass there is a water pump station that lifts this water up 4000 feet to a reservoir on the other side of the pass. From there the water then flows down to LA. Combined with other water pumping plants in the state about 6,000,000 MHr a year is used to move water to the southern part of the state.

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