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Despite declines for the quarter, Tesla is bullish on its overall energy business

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Even as its solar company declined in step with its overall earnings, Tesla is bullish on the prospects for the energy side of its business over the course of this year.

The energy company is an unheralded part of Tesla — overshadowed by its headline-grabbing (and much larger) auto exploits — that chief executive Elon Musk thinks will generate an increasing share of revenue for the business over time.

Tesla reports $702 million loss in first quarter

Revenues from its solar power and energy storage business fell by 13 percent in the fourth quarter 2018 and 21 percent from a year ago period, down to $324.7 million from $371.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $410 million in the year ago quarter.

Solar power deployments dropped from 73 megawatts into 47 megawatts in the fourth to the first quarter, the company said. These figures were offset by a slight increase in solar deployments.

The business introduced a new financing and model for installations in the quarter — stating that solar customers can purchase from the Tesla site, in standardized capacity increments.

“We aim to place customers in a place of cash generation with a $99 deposit upfront after deployment. This way, there should be no reason for anyone not to have solar generation in their roof,” Musk and chief financial officer Zachary Kirkhorn wrote at the shareholder letter.

Tesla’s battery storage company as the company shifted units to installation in its vehicles was hit.

“Energy storage production in the second half of 2018 was limited by mobile production as we routed all available Gigafactory 1 mobile capacity to provide Model 3,” the company wrote in its letter. “Some Gigafactory 1 mobile production was hauled back allowing us to increase production in Q1 . ”

And Musk thinks that the energy company will grow significantly over the course of this year. “We hope that growth rate will continue and battery storage will become a bigger and bigger percentage over time,” Musk stated on an analyst call following the earnings release. Potentially, Tesla thinks its energy business could grow by as much as 300 percent, Musk said. 

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