Tesla’s 2021 solar installs reach four-year high of 345MW

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Deployment of Tesla’s Solar Roof product nearly tripled year-on-year. Image: Tesla.

Tesla’s solar installations jumped 68% in 2021 to 345MW despite a slight dip in additions year-on-year during the fourth quarter.

While the figures represent the company’s best year for solar installs since 2017 – when it added 523MW – a strong Q1 2021 was followed by three quarters in which deployment was largely flat.

Recent years have seen the company scale up solar installs between Q3 and Q4, but there was a minimal rise from 83MW to 85MW in the fourth quarter of 2021, when deployment was also down on the 86MW added in Q4 2020.

Deployment of Tesla’s Solar Roof product, which integrates PV modules directly into roof tiles, nearly tripled year-on-year in 2021 and continued to grow sequentially in Q4, but no install stats were provided.

Tesla did say, however, that it is making further cost improvements to the Solar Roof, particularly within installation, to increase energy profitability.

Tesla quarterly solar installations.

Although minimal time was dedicated to Tesla’s solar business during a conference call following publication of the results, Andrew Baglino, the company’s senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering, said that having increasingly integrated its Powerwall home battery system with rooftop solar, the “next logical step” is heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

CEO Elon Musk said: “I think it really becomes quite a compelling solution to the consumer where you integrate electric vehicles charging, solar, energy storage, hot water, HVAC in a very tight compact package that also looks good. It just doesn’t exist.”

Revenues from Tesla’s energy division in Q4 were down almost 9% year-on-year and 15% on Q3 to US$688 million.

Other US rooftop solar installers such as Sunrun, Sunnova and SunPower are due to publish their Q4 2021 results in February, but the latter revealed in a statement last week that its earnings for the quarter will be towards to lower end of its guidance as poor weather in California and COVID impacts shifted some earnings into 2022.

In terms of energy storage, Tesla’s installations were up 32% year-on-year in 2021, mainly driven by the deployment of the firm’s Megapack battery energy storage system. It said that as demand for its energy storage products “remains substantially above capacity”, growth has been limited by supply.

The company broke ground last year on a 40GWh Megapack facility in California to address growing demand.

A notable supply deal was announced in September that will see Tesla provide 2GW / 6GWh of its Megapack systems to renewables company Arevon for use in nine standalone storage projects being developed in California.

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