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Power Transportation

Mercedes-Benz Copies Tesla, Plans To Offer Home Energy Storage 116

cartechboy writes: It's like a game of follow the leader. First, Tesla announced its Powerwall Batteries, and now Mercedes-Benz plans to follow suit by entering the energy-storage business as well. A division of parent company Daimler has been testing battery packs that can power houses, and plans to launch commercially in September. Supposedly a battery pack for "light industrial, commercial, and private" use is being tested with sizes ranging from 2.5 kWh to 5.9 kWh. While Tesla's building a massive Gigafactory to make all its batteries for its Powerwall and electric cars, it's unclear exactly how Daimler plans to produce its batteries in a larger-scale energy-storage operation.
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Mercedes-Benz Copies Tesla, Plans To Offer Home Energy Storage

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  • Cost effectiveness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @11:36AM (#49823113) Homepage Journal

    If it is cost effective to store energy, wouldn't power companies be doing it?

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      The goal wasn't really to store energy for the house. The actual goal is to store energy to recharge your electric vehicle quickly and without overloading your local power grid.

      The use of energy in the house is an added-on benefit and makes it more appealing to buyers. Some might also call this a "gimmick."

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        Frankly that makes no sense. The 10KWh battery from Tesla is only good for 50 cycles a year. It is a replacement for a back up generator at best. The 7KWh pack could work for solar storage but frankly they are not cost effective no storage method is cost effective except maybe hydro storage.

        • by sribe ( 304414 )

          The 7KWh pack could work for solar storage but frankly they are not cost effective no storage method is cost effective except maybe hydro storage.

          Actually, at a time-of-day cost differential of about $0.22/kWh they are break-even. So, not cost effective in most areas, but very very close. Bump up the peak prices of power in CA a bit, or bring the PowerWall cost down or capacity up a bit, and you're there.

          • Hawaii has electricity at .38/kWh, and gas is expensive. A lot of the east coast has .20 differentials as well. Hopefully , Tesla hard targets Hawaii for solar, battery and car. It really makes good sense there. From there they can target NY, NJ, MA, etc.
            • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

              so how much is the night time electricity in hawaii then? the daytime price alone is meaningless for knowing if it makes sense to store the energy in the battery to be used during the day.

              it's just a battery.. I never understood the tesla fanbois who started claiming that we can power everything with the batteries..

              making the battery packs for ultra-quick charging of cars makes much more sense (it avoids having to build thicker power lines to the houses, which in most western locales is more expensive than

              • Ok, so many things wrong here:
                1), In Hawaii, that 1-2 battery pack is enough to power their homes at nighttime. The reason is that they pretty much have no HVAC. They are currently prohibited from adding Solar and then selling to back to the utility. However, if they add batteries for the home, and have the car, then they do NOT need the local utility. And with .38/KWH, these are MUCH cheaper to run for home.
                2) nearly all homes in America do NOT need to have increased power lines to handle an electric c
                • by kriston ( 7886 )

                  No. The homes can handle the power load, but the power grid cannot. You can't have a large proportion of houses in the neighborhood pulling 40 amps at 240VAC continuously for four to six hours every night at the same time.

                  There are dozens of companies developing home storage for electric vehicles because of this. It's a serious logistical problem.

                  • You can't have a large proportion of houses in the neighborhood pulling 40 amps at 240VAC continuously for four to six hours every night at the same time.

                    I disagree. Homes currently pull quite a bit of load during the afternoon and evening - AC running, stove running, clothes dryer running, etc. That's when all of the generation capacity is running full-tilt. 40A at 240V is just under 10kW - not a whole lot of power, really. There's no real reason (other than cost) that the peak demand curve can't be extend

                    • by kriston ( 7886 )

                      The dryer, stove, AC, hot water heater, and other appliances do not pull full continuous load for several hours at a time. The electric car charging port *does*.

                      And your quoted article doesn't say anything about what that load might be, just that it is "increasing."

                      And, please, try re-read my post more carefully. I am talking about the power distribution grid and not power generation.

                    • The dryer, stove, AC, hot water heater, and other appliances do not pull full continuous load for several hours at a time.

                      After a shower or clothes washing, the water heater does. The clothes dryer certainly does. Typical electric water heaters have dual 4500W coils. If you run very low on hot water, both of those coils run at the same time - that's 37.5A / 9kW right there. A typical clothes dryer pulls 30A at 240V, so that's another 7.2kW. If you're like us, you come home, start the washing machine (which

                    • One thing that so many miss on these studies is that if more than 15% of the vehicles charge in the daytime, then the grid and possibly energy, is not enough. It will demand major money to be spent.
                      It is for that very reason why I am opposed to subsidies for hybrids, or any general purpose EV with less than 100 MPC. And ideally, any large subsidy should be ONLY for vehicles with 150+ MPC. They are the ones that will actually lower the costs of delivered electricity.
                    • by kriston ( 7886 )

                      If your hot water heater, dryer, and stove run continuously for any extended amount of time, then you've got to call your electrician.

                      None of these appliances is going to run a full 4- to 6-hour duty cycle. Try it. Even your stove doesn't run continuously when you turn it on. Do you even own an electric stove or water heater?

                      And distribution vs. transmission is not a big difference for my argument. It cannot now handle the load.

                  • And yet, numerous studies by EIA, and others, show that you have no clue of what you are talking about. Over and over, they have said that the grid can EASILY handle converting 100% of our vehicles to EV, so long as more than 85% of the cars charge at night.
                    Here you go. Here is a link explaining the most CURRENT study proving you wrong. [cleantechnica.com]
                    • by kriston ( 7886 )

                      Wow, if the figures projected by this article turn out to be true in the real world, I stand corrected.

                      However, since my own home has a load-management cutoff switch for my water heater to reduce load on peak days, I have a doubt how successful it will be in actual real-world situations.

              • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

                It is not just a battery, it is a 'CAPITAL INVESTMENT'. Do no get sucked in by the PR agents seeking to keep you tied to their last millennium infrastructure, which you must rent access to and then burn you money to get energy. They way you calculate the benefits of generating you own electricity and making that energy available 24/7/365 (no more out of your control black outs, keep the maintenance up though otherwise you will be creating your own), is to look at the capital cost, calculate the value of th

              • by sribe ( 304414 )

                it's just a battery.. I never understood the tesla fanbois who started claiming that we can power everything with the batteries..

                It costs about 1/4 as much as the currently-available alternatives with the same capacity.

          • Actually, at a time-of-day cost differential of about $0.22/kWh they are break-even. So, not cost effective in most areas, but very very close.

            When you say most areas, you mean most areas in your immediate vicinity? This is an international forum (you know the Internet isn't just in your suburb right?), and where I live it's 46c/kwh peak, 9c/kwh offpeak. And it's going up every year. Where do I sign up?

            • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

              " This is an international forum "
              Really? This forum is in english and is based in the US. The news is mostly US based. Sure people from around the world come here but this is most certainly a US based forum. It is no more an international based forum than a web forum based in France and where the posts are in French is or any other forum on the Internet. Sure everyone is welcome but it is a US centric site.

              • " This is an international forum " Really? This forum is in english and is based in the US. The news is mostly US based. Sure people from around the world come here but this is most certainly a US based forum. It is no more an international based forum than a web forum based in France and where the posts are in French is or any other forum on the Internet. Sure everyone is welcome but it is a US centric site.

                No it isn't, it is a technology centric site. It even tells you that in the title. You are a US-centric person because that's the poor education that you had as a child. Using your own data against you, The US barely makes 10% of the market https://www.google.com.au/tren... [google.com.au]

                • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

                  Wow....
                  That is just search results.

                  Let's take a look at the subjects on the front page today.
                  The Linux Foundation. Based in San Francisco and registered as a Not for profit in the US.
                  Disney and H1B workers... US based company and H1Bs are US Visas.
                  The Moon. Not US centric.
                  Microsoft selling feature phones. US based company doing business overseas.
                  The American Cancer Society's IT overhaul.
                  GIT Hub affects people all over but the company is US based.
                  NASA.
                  Batterroo US based.
                  SpaceX US based.
                  Windows 10 Microsoft U

                  • Ironic you say that in a thread about a German Car manufacturer...
                    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

                      Really? Maybe you did not notice that the thread title is that a German company is copying a US company?

                      The difference between US Centric and US exclusive.
                      In fact I would guess that it is pretty rare to find a front page story without a US connection. The only common ones I can think of would be stories about CERN, ESA, and Airbus. I do not see why you take such offense to a site based in the US being US centric. Sure some people on the site are not from the US but that is to be expected.

                    • Dude, it's a technology site, it even says so it the title. If you've actually read any comments at all ever you would realise this and stop being such a US-centric arse-clown.
          • by haruchai ( 17472 )

            Hawaii, Australia and Germany are already at the point where the PowerWall or something like it will pay back before the warrany expires.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Depends where you live. In California you can have "Time of Use" plans TOU where it costs .46 cents/kwh at peak and only .09cents off peak. If the battery charges up at 9 cents and then powers the house at .46cents there will be a significant savings.

          • Depends where you live. In California you can have "Time of Use" plans TOU where it costs .46 cents/kwh at peak and only .09cents off peak. If the battery charges up at 9 cents and then powers the house at .46cents there will be a significant savings.

            How long will those plans last once more than a small number of people buy these?

            • by jblues ( 1703158 )

              I would imagine the following effects over time:

              • * Prices of peak and off-peak become flat rate throughout the day.
              • * Electricity companies decommission their peak power generators, and just run at near 100% utilization all day. Because of this they can temporarily increase profit taking.
              • * Competition will mean eventually passing on savings to consumers.
              • Of course that all misses the point I was trying to make...

                If you buy one of these based on "power savings" from shifting from off-peak to peak, those "savings" go away when the various rates go away...

                As for competition, a lot of places with time of day charges don't have any competition, but it probably will help in some places.

                • by jblues ( 1703158 )

                  Really? I thought I was agreeing with you.

                  "Electricity companies decommission their peak power generators, and just run at near 100% utilization all day. Because of this they can temporarily increase profit taking."

                  The savings will go away because rates become flat and providers increase profit taking. Eventually (hopefully) competitive pressures bring overall (ie averaged over a year) prices down again, because the cost of production is cheaper.

                  • Right, but then if rates become flat, why have a battery to do power shifting?

                    As people stop buying them when the rates even out, you're back to the same problem.

                    The reason for buying them goes away, if there is no savings, then people will stop using them.

                    • by jblues ( 1703158 )
                      Ah, I see what you mean. I suspect at that point they can sell you a solar cell and/or turbine to go with your battery?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        No. The home batteries have only a fraction (~1/10th) of the capacity of a vehicle battery. It would make more sense to have a connector on the car, that you could plug your house into as an alternative to a backup generator - a 85kWh Tesla car battery would power the average US household for almost three days. House batteries are being sold as time-shifting devices that draw from the grid at night prices and power the house during peak hours. It can save a bit of money and only needs a few hours of run tim

    • Local in-home storage solves two problems that the utilities can't easily solve:

      - power outages / grid failures
      - storage of local solar power

      We can feed in-home solar back to the grid, but it's more efficient to store and use ourselves.

    • wrong question. It should be.. How do you make it cost effective enough for power companies to use it?

      Doesn't gigafactory make you think of Lexx?

    • by amorsen ( 7485 )

      In many places electricity is taxed or high distribution tariffs apply. When you combine that with low feed-in tariffs, those with solar panels have a strong incentive to use their own power rather than export and import power.

      Thus, it is cost effective to store energy for the consumer, not for the power companies -- and sometimes it is cost effective for the consumer to store energy expensive high-demand power from the middle of the day and use it during the night when power is otherwise cheap. Some power

    • They're already making money doing what they do now. If they let other people work out the bugs, then they can implement whatever technology turns out to mature most rapidly or most fully or most cheaply, whatever makes the spreadsheets come out at the time

    • wouldn't power companies be doing it?

      Here around power companies DO INDEED do it.
      And it's called a hydroelectric dam.

      - You let it fill when unneeded (and thus store the energy as gravity potential energy). Or you can even actively pump water into it if you want to charge using electricity as an input.
      - You start emptying it through the power station to supplement other energy sources when demand exceeds power capacity (as might happen with some forms of renewable energy).

      On a really smaller scale, that has also been always the case with isolat

      • However , batteries are a cheap way to buffer varying demand. In addition, flow batteries are becoming cheap.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        In Japan and Hawaii power companies are installing grid scale batteries. They are sodium sulphur based, typically in the 50-100MWh range. Ideal for smoothing renewable sources. Fairly clean and easy to recycle too.

        • In Japan and Hawaii power companies are installing grid scale batteries. {...} Ideal for smoothing renewable sources.

          And I might add: easier for such (relatively) smaller islands like Hawaii which can't afford lots hydroelectric dam [hawaiianelectric.com] due to limited amount of mountains (compared to the Alps [wikipedia.org] here around, or compared to Japan [wikipedia.org])

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would they do that when they can just charge a premium for peak demand?

      Also, they are supplementing their supply side with solar, so that keep them from having to do it.

      If you switch to demand based billing, you can save money by acquiring cheaper energy and using that during peak demand. For instance, I get a 12% discount for non-peak usage, but that is offset by a cost of 250% during peak usage. If I buy more electricity during non-peak (charge my batteries), and then use no electricity from the gri

    • by Alomex ( 148003 )

      RIght, because if it were cost effective to move your encyclopedia to the Internet, Britannica would have done it first. And if it were cost efficient to stream music, record companies would have done it first.

      Because that is exactly how the free market works. Perfect every single time. I'm glad you were paying attention during Indoctrination to Economics 101.

      • Because that is exactly how the free market works.

        "Free market power companies." Cool, where can I get one?

        The ones I have available are state-granted monopolies (fascism) [econlib.org]. They take any operating profits and pay a "healthy" dividend to investors - there's no need to invest in future-benefit infrastructure because the PUC will always give them a rate increase if they can show present supply and demand data, discounting all past squandered opportunity. It would be foolish for them to ever do anything els

    • If it is cost effective to store energy, wouldn't power companies be doing it?

      Cost effective for who? The idea of something being cost effective has to take into account all sorts of externalities. It is cost effective for me to run my entire life on a surface tablet. It would not be cost effective for the drafters in the office to do the same thing.

      The same applies to a power company. If you have a giant turbine that runs all the time and you get paid for running that turbine and there are significant costs to starting and shutting down that turbine then it is not cost effective at

    • Nice thought, but their plan has been to grow, rather than manage, energy. Oddly, a few power companies have figured out that the old ways do not work for them, but are still fighting change.
    • If it is cost effective to store energy, wouldn't power companies be doing it?

      Of course they would. It would be far cheaper to store up generated energy at night and release during the day at peak usage than it would be to build another plant to handle the increased needs of the day. However, it is not economically viable to store energy in this fashion, even in the economies of scale of a power plant. Therefore, it is much less cost effective on an individual consumer basis.

  • Too much is made of "competing' with a not yet built gigafactory. That gigafactory will initially be more costly to operate than a smaller ones, as they pay for unused infrastructure. Economies of scale won't help until the scale gets big enough. So there is no immediate advantage for Tesla in that regard.
    • by codealot ( 140672 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @11:44AM (#49823201)

      Yes--Tesla has become a giant vaporware producer. Their fans speak as if Tesla has already cornered the EV and battery storage markets, in reality all they've done is ship a few Model S cars and made various announcements for products we can't yet buy (Model X, Model 3, Powerwall).

      • by radl33t ( 900691 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @11:50AM (#49823269)
        But capital markets love vaporware and this kind of ludicrous access to the capital markets is propelling Tesla at a rate equivalent or in excess of the r&d pace that the stodgy old auto mfgs can pursue. It has a kind of perverted logic too it in a highly speculative sense.
      • by NoKaOi ( 1415755 )

        Yes--Tesla has become a giant vaporware producer.

        Vaporware? So those Tesla vehicles I see driving down the road aren't actually functional or driving? That's quite an impressive illusion. Just because production is low doesn't mean it's vaporware.

    • Bzzzt. Wrong. This is not about competing with the gigafactory. MB is staking a spot in the space against all the other newcomers who would brand a retail style home power solution. Also, by tailoring their product, they also approach similar suppliers to tesla, before other competitors also ask for similar supplies and drive up the cost.
      • Where did I say it WAS about competing with the gigafactory? I was talking about the article and the fact too much is made of it. quotes like;

        "And without a Gigafactory of its own, it's less clear how Daimler will supply a larger-scale energy-storage operation."

        Don't pin that shit on me.
    • The point of offering home energy storage is to be able to build a Gigafactory earlier for the economies of scale benefit. The reason they are offering home energy storage isn't because of high margins, its to be able to build a bigger Gigafactory earlier and become a leader in the battery market. Competing on home energy storage is just a way to ensure high utilization of the factory. Without the factory, home energy storage only takes away from your main product line (car batteries) which are much more

  • it's unclear exactly how Daimler plans to produce its batteries in a larger-scale energy-storage operation.

    Perhaps by writing big checks to battery suppliers like Tesla and Panasonic? And of course from their current supplier for electric vehicles: A123Systems. [a123systems.com]

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Funny but I think Tesla is Rio in this metaphor.

      Tesla is not a successful car or battery company yet. It still has not made a profit.

      • Yet they've got enough cash flow to sink a ton of money into R&D and growing the company which may be more important as this stage of their development.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          If the R&D pays off.
          Doesn't really matter, for a company success == profit.
          Having enough VC to keep the lights on == surviving.
          Tesla is not a successful car company yet.

  • Copies Tesla??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by antiperimetaparalogo ( 4091871 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @11:57AM (#49823335)

    Mercedes-Benz Copies Tesla

    Let's not make it "Europe against USA" but Mercedes (Daimler) was in the energy-storage (battery-pack) business (think industrial and defence sectors, plus -much more limited- residential storage - with the same technology as Tesla) looong before Tesla even existed - i don't mean that it is better than Tesla, but please... not "Copies Tesla"!

    • This is Slashdot. Did you really expect anything other than rampant, hard-core bias in favor of Tesla? It matters not that Daimler and dozens of other companies have been doing battery storage power facilities for decades before Tesla existed.

      • This is Slashdot. Did you really expect anything other than rampant, hard-core bias in favor of Tesla? It matters not that Daimler and dozens of other companies have been doing battery storage power facilities for decades before Tesla existed.

        Well, i must agree with you!
        I know that i wrote 'Let's not make it "Europe against USA"', but i hope some German (or even an Austrian!) will do his "nationalistic duty" and inform with more details our Yankee friends about that...

      • Daimler and dozens of other companies have been doing battery storage power facilities for decades before Tesla existed.

        Is it just that Tesla has better marketing? Because none of these other "players" have put out a press release with a website to sign up for an install in the next year, at functional prices, that I've ever seen.

        Links appreciated to equivalent product, since Tesla sold out before the SolarCity offices opened in my state (the drywall is still going in).

    • Please provide a link that shows that MB has been going with the same tech as Tesla and it has to be residential. Because if that is true, then it means that this story is a total lie by Daimler.
      • I don't have a link* and i meant Daimler actually (not exactly MB), plus with "same tech" i meant Li-ion generaly, but such packs are provided (i know for sure from its defence wing - note: some are the same thing as this new Tesla's "residential" type...).
        * actually, TFA (that i had not read before i wrote my first comment... surprise!) mention Daimler's ACCUmotive [accumotive.de] (note: i am not sure that provides the packs of the Daimler's *defence* wing)

        I want to make clear that i never intented to claim Daimler's p

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Yep, it's not like they just saw the Tesla announcement and rushed out their own project in a month. This sort of thing will have been in development for years.

  • Actually, I learned that in a comment here on Slashdot!

    Alas, it's just Rolls, no Royce. [wholesalesolar.com]

  • Interesting Move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @12:06PM (#49823411)

    The linked article just appears to be an advert for Mercedes cars, but this is quite an interesting development. I don't know if it is more a response to a market gap given the current issues Germany is having with too many renewables on their grid, or part of a broader strategy around their electric vehicles. Either way it is pretty exciting to see how quickly electric infrastructure is developing.

    As an EE who has spent a huge amount of time fixing cars (don't buy a Peugeot) I think electric cars will be a no-brainer for customers once the cost reduces further, and I think Tesla is trying to push that point forward by creating another mass market for batteries. If they can get it right, things could change very quickly, and I think companies like Mercedes can see this.

    I hope that Elon Musk can make these businesses viable and sustainable. In an era where most corporations increase profits by finding new ways to screw over their customers and create artificial scarcity, it's pretty exciting to think that in 20 years time driving a car could be cheaper than it is now and potentially even sustainable. In a world where most of the smartest people are trying to find ways to make you click on an advert or manipulate financial markets, this sort of thing is sadly pretty rare.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mercedes has been shipping power generation/storage solutions for decades. This is not a "move to rival Tesla"; it's merely moving into a subsidized market. Note that Tesla is losing money, and only trying to play in subsidized markets while Mercedes has been a successful, profitable manufacturing company for a long time.

  • by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Tuesday June 02, 2015 @12:14PM (#49823511) Homepage

    That's similar to how many electric companies in the United States started because they had excess generation from their electric trolley lines and then got into the electric supply and distribution business. Eventually the energy companies survived, but their trolley business faded away.

    • I think alot of people don't remember/realize that in the 1920's the most common car was an electric car.

  • MB bought them all so they could re-brand them and mark them up. Mystery Solved!

  • From TFA:

    The company created a subsidiary called ACCUmotive in 2009 to develop lithium-ion batteries. It built an energy-storage array that is now operated by German electricity joint venture Coulomb. The system's 96 lithium-ion "modules" boast a combined 500 kilowatt hours of storage capacity, which is used to stabilize the Saxony Kamenz power grid. There are plans to expand this installation to 3,000 kWh of storage capacity.

  • This is only to do with economies of scale. Their goal is to get in, get the best contracts before demand drives up the cost to enter the business segment. MB just saw the writing o the wall and decided they would rather not be the "Borders Booksellers" of the new energy consumption paradigm. Don't try to analyze a business decision with an oscilloscope.

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