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Tesla has a new energy product called Megapack – TechCrunch

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Tesla has launched a new utility-scale energy storage product called Megapack modeled after the giant battery system it deployed in South Australia as the company seeks to provide an alternative to natural gas “peaker” power plants.

Megapack is the third and largest energy storage system offered by Tesla. The company also sells the residential Powerwall and the commercial Powerpack systems.

Megapack, which Tesla announced Monday in a blog post, is the latest effort by the company to retool and grow its energy storage business, which is a smaller revenue driver than sales of its electric vehicles. Of the $6.4 billion in total revenue posted in the second quarter, just $368 million was from Tesla’s solar and energy storage product business.

Tesla did deploy a record 415 megawatt-hours of energy storage products in the second quarter, an 81% increase from the previous quarter, according to Tesla’s second-quarter earnings report that was released July 24. Powerwalls are now installed at more than 50,000 sites.

The Megapack offering could provide an even bigger boost if Tesla can convince utilities to opt for it instead of the more common natural gas peaker plants used today. And it seems it already has.

Tesla’s Megapack will provide 182.5 MW of the upcoming 567 MW Moss Landing energy storage project in California with PG&E.

The so-called Megapack was specifically designed and engineered to be an easy-to-install utility-scale system. Each system comes fully assembled — that includes battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC main breaker and controls — with up to 3 megawatt-hours of energy storage and 1.5 MW of inverter capacity.

The system includes software, developed by Tesla, to monitor, control and monetize the installations, the company said in a blog post announcing Megapack.

All Megapacks connect to Powerhub, an advanced monitoring and control platform for large-scale utility projects and microgrids, and can also integrate with Autobidder, Tesla’s machine-learning platform for automated energy trading, the company said.

Megapack was inspired by Tesla’s Hornsdale project, which combined its 100 MW Powerpack system with Neoen’s wind farm near Jamestown in South Australia. The Tesla Powerpack system stored power generated by the wind farm and then delivered the electricity to the grid during peak hours. The facility saved nearly $40 million in its first year.

Today, the go-to option for utilities are natural gas “peaker” power plants. Peaker power plants are used when a local utility grid can’t provide enough power to meet peak demand, an occurrence that has become more common as temperatures and populations rise.

Tesla hopes to be the sustainable alternative. And in states like California, which have ambitious emissions targets, Tesla could gain some ground. Instead of using a natural gas peaker plant, utilities could use the Megapack to store excess solar or wind energy to support the grid’s peak loads.

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WhatsApp brings one-to-one calling to desktop as privacy controversy rages on

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WhatsApp today announced that it’s bringing one-to-one calls to its desktop app. Calling will be available both for voice and video and they’ll be end-to-end encrypted as well. While these calls have been a centerpiece in the WhatsApp mobile app for a long time, the company says that it’s bringing calling to the desktop app to help support the increase in calls that have come with the pandemic.

Beyond that, it seems that WhatsApp figured that people would benefit making video calls on larger screens. “Answering on a bigger screen makes it easier to work with colleagues, see your family more clearly on a bigger canvas, or free up your hands to move around a room while talking,” the company wrote in a blog post today.

WhatsApp says that desktop calls can work in either portrait or landscape orientation, and that they’ll appear in a “resizable standalone window.” While this functionality is only going live for one-to-one calls today, WhatsApp says that eventually it’ll expand to include group voice and video calls as well. At that point, these WhatsApp desktop calls could become a better option for those working from home as well.

WhatsApp has come under fire in recent weeks for upcoming changes to its privacy policy. Once those changes are implemented, WhatsApp will begin sharing some user data with Facebook, and while it says that information about personal conversations won’t be shared, data concerning conversations with businesses will be.

Facebook, of course, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to privacy, so some users are understandably hesitant to keep using WhatsApp after these privacy policy changes go into effect later this year. We’ll see what happens from here, but so far, it appears that Facebook doesn’t intend to walk back these controversial changes.

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Amazon expands Fire TV Live Channel guide

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Amazon Fire TV users have a change to look forward to that is live as of today. Amazon has announced the expansion of providers for the Fire TV Live Channel guide, adding more than 400 channels from 20 different providers. The expanded Live Channel guide includes content from YouTube TV, Sling TV, Tubi, and its services, including Prime Video Channels and Prime Video Live events.

Amazon also says it will integrate IMDB, XUMO, Plex, and Amazon News app into the Fire TV Live TV channel guide. With those channels added to the guide, users can now see them in the Live tab and the Universal Channel tab. All of the services, except for Plex, are available now.

Plex will come soon, but an exact timeframe is unannounced. Amazon is also currently making all of the services and content from several other providers free to new customers. Along with the additional channels, Alexa support for all live TV programs has been expanded. With the Alexa expansion, users are able to navigate to specific channels or play live TV shows by name using Alexa commands.

When users turn on their TV with the change applied, they now see shows, movies, and sports rather than a row of apps. Amazon also promises to continue to invest in Live TV. Late in 2020, Amazon added Fire TV support for on-demand local news channels in 12 cities. That service will expand to 90 additional cities during 2021.

Late last month, Amazon added its Luna gaming service to Fire TV, and no invite was needed to join. The Luna gaming service launched last September and had been in early access requiring an invite to sign up. Amazon’s move also eliminated the requirement for an invite to purchase the Luna controller.

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OnePlus Nord 2 leak might sound disappointing to some

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Although it doesn’t reach the top 5 in terms of numbers, OnePlus is arguably one of the more well-known brands in the smartphone market, particularly among Android phones. Its mix of specs and price continues to enchant some consumers, even though those prices continue to climb every year. It launched the OnePlus Nord to balance the scales and the mid-range phone received the same warm welcome in markets where it was made available. Its successor, however, might give some fans pause as it switches out the most important component from Qualcomm to MediaTek.

You could almost say that OnePlus has been, so far, a Qualcomm shop, with all its phones powered by one Snapdragon or another. That’s true even for the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100, budget phones that, in another time or place, would have used a MediaTek processor known for being more affordable than Qualcomm’s equivalent. That chain might finally be broken if Android Central’s insider tip comes to pass.

The OnePlus Nord 2 will allegedly use a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 instead of whatever Snapdragon 7-series Qualcomm will have this year. On paper, this is quite an upgrade from the first OnePlus Nord’s Snapdragon 765G as the Dimensity 1200 is the company’s top-tier 5G processor. On paper, it would be racing against a Snapdragon 8-series instead.

In practice, it remains to be seen how well the Dimensity 1200 will perform. MediaTek hasn’t exactly been known for its raw performance and more for its balance of price and power. That said, offering 5G at higher clock speeds will benefit buyers’ pockets as well.

The bigger winner here is perhaps MediaTek, who is able to bag yet another big player in the smartphone market. While Qualcomm retains its grip on the high-end premium market as always, MediaTek’s 5G Dimensity chips are slowly gnawing away at its share, even with 5G-capable Snapdragon 6-series processors available.

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