Until now, Tesla has perhaps been best-known for their sleek, market-leading electric cars – most recently the coveted Model S. But with the unveiling of their first, beautifully designed home battery on April 30th, conversation turned to what Tesla’s new development could mean for the energy industry. Though the renewable sector has made huge strides in recent years – with some 13% of the USA’s energy now coming from sustainable sources – experts say we’re still not moving fast enough. Could this battery be the key to ending our dependence on fossil fuels?
Tesla’s home battery will be available from this summer (Source: Tesla)
How Does It Work?
“Our goal is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy,” claimed the company’s founder, Elon Musk, at the news conference in California where the battery was unveiled. Though its exact specifications are kept under lock and key, industry experts believe that the technology probably isn’t too different from the lithium ion battery that Tesla are currently using in the Model S.
Musk’s wall-mounted energy storage unit, Powerwall, charges using electricity generated from solar panels during the day – when energy is most plentiful but usage at its lowest – and uses it to power your home in the morning and evening, when you most need it. What’s more, Powerwall has the ability to hold an impressive 10 kilowatt hours of electricity for a relatively low retail price of just $3,500. After inverter costs and installation, Deutsche Bank estimates that homeowners could cut their electricity bills by more than 50%.
Why Should I Be Interested?
Aside from the huge potential savings outlined above, the battery offers a way to drastically cut your reliance on the utility grid – great for homeowners who feel they’re not getting a good deal from their electricity supplier. You’ll be protecting yourself from future rises in the price of energy and the higher rates often charged by energy companies at peak times of day. For homeowners concerned about their green credentials, this battery offers an easy way to be part of the movement towards cleaner electricity and to make your home more sustainable. Though they’re not yet as cheap as a natural gas back-up generator, Powerwall units will also protect your home in the event of a power outage.
In addition to the Powerwall system, Tesla is also offering a commercial-scale system, the Powerpack, with an impressive 100 kWh of storage. One hundred of these units could be combined to form a 10 megawatt hour storage unit, which is enough to power a small-scale or “micro” electricity grid for a whole community. In fact, Tesla estimates that two billion of these utility-scale units would be enough to power the entire world. While we’re still some time away from this being a reality, it does provide some exciting food for thought – and it’s surely not long before Chinese manufacturers like BYD start getting in on the action, driving prices down and availability up. Perhaps most importantly, Tesla has delivered a blow to fuel industry lobbyists and advocates who have long opposed renewables on our lack of ability to store them. They’re almost out of arguments – and that can only be a good thing.