Tesla grows energy revenue, preps to start pilot solar roof production

Selling solar panels and EVs at the same location. Author: Mark Dixon.

May 4 (Renewables Now) - Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) yesterday confirmed it is starting pilot production of the solar roof in the current quarter and reported USD 213.9 million (EUR 196m) in solar and storage revenue for the first quarter (Q1) of 2017.

CEO Elon Musk last week said the company will be launching two types of solar roof tiles this year and two early next year. Pilot production will start at the Fremont facility and later shift to Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. As previously announced, Japan’s Panasonic Corp (TYO:6752) will be Tesla’s partner for the manufacturing of photovoltaic (PV) cells at the site.

In Q1 2017 the company recognized a full quarter of SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) contribution. This boosted revenues at the energy generation and storage (EGS) segment, as is visible in the table.

Unaudited results Q1 2017 Q4 2016 Q1 2016
EGS revenue (in USD million) 213.94 131.4 22.7
EGS gross margin (in %) 29.1 2.7 20.3

Gross margin grew sequentially because of improved energy storage margins, sale of energy credits and higher production of solar power due to seasonality.

During the quarter, Tesla deployed 150 MW of solar capacity, which is below the year-ago figures, but “had better financial results”. In Q1 2016 SolarCity deployed 245 MW.

The fall in deployment is in line with a plan to bet on projects that have higher margin and generate cash up front, instead of focusing on growth in MW deployed at any cost. The portion of residential customers who chose to own rather than lease their solar system rose to 31% of Q1 deployments, from 9% a year earlier.

Tesla also installed 60 MWh of energy storage in Q1.

The company said it tested sales of its solar and storage products in several Tesla stores, which resulted in sales productivity rising 50% to 100% relative to the best non-Tesla retail locations. The plan is now to fully staff over 70 Tesla stores in the US and abroad with dedicated energy sales people over the next two quarters.

“Our energy generation and storage business is positioned for accelerating growth later this year, and we continue to be confident about achieving the cost synergies and cash generation targets established when we acquired SolarCity,” Tesla’s CEO and CFO say in the Q1 update letter.

Overall, the company remains in the red, even though revenues are growing.

(In USD million) Q1 2017 Q4 2016 Q1 2016
Total revenue 2,696.3 2,284.6 1,147
Pre-tax loss 371.9 208.4 278.4
Net loss 397.2 291.5 282.3
Net loss to
common stockholders
330.3 121.3 282.3

Tesla explained that the increase in GAAP net loss attributable to common stockholders was mainly due to changes in non-cash items related to purchase accounting for SolarCity and foreign currency translation, among other factors.

(USD 1 = EUR 0.92)

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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