This past Thursday, Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed the Powerwall, his much coveted new project at a seminar in Los Angeles. The Powerwall is a sleekly-designed battery storage system designed for residential use as a method of emergency power in times of blackouts or even as a means of going off the grid entirely. Built to be mounted on a wall in your garage or on an exterior wall on the house, the Tesla battery system comes in two configurations: 7kWh storage at $3,000 per unit and 10kWh storage at $3,500 per unit. Additionally, Powerwall units come in a variety of colors and can be stacked side-by-side up to nine units across. Check out this presentation given by Elon Musk below:
Musk stipulated that these batteries, along with their 100 kWh Power Pack sister units, are designed to integrate with renewable energy sources with a focus on solar energy. It’s safe to assume that he plans on using these new battery units in conjunction with Tesla’s sister company SolarCity, a notable solar panel installation firm. Musk begins the presentation by explaining the dire need the world has for clean, renewable energy to keep carbon levels from climbing any higher.
In order to make this battery-run residence dream possible, Tesla is building a billion-dollar manufacturing facility in Nevada known as Gigafactory where it will eventually build the Powerwall and Power Pack units. The facility was first conceived out of necessity to build the lithium-ion batteries used in Tesla vehicles, but will now also produce Powerwall units as well to become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries.
Some critics of the new Tesla venture say that the Powerwall is just another techy a new toy for wealthy people who want to go green, and that right now the hefty price tag for Powerwall units are enough to keep them from being commercially viable to the average homeowner. Forbes writer Christopher Helman brings up the fact that when all is said and done (purchasing the unit, installing the unit and a AC/DC inverter, et cetera) the average output of power will end up costing 30 cents per kWh, quite a bit more expensive than the nation’s average of about 12.5 cents per kWh for grid-connected homes.
That being said, it seems like a small consolation considering the sheer scale Musk is after with taking America and then the world off the grid through superior energy generation and storage. This is only a part of Musk’s overall plan to remove fossil fuels completely from the equation for producing power as well as in transportation. Musk’s dedication to making carbon-neutral energy a reality is shown in grand plan side projects like the Hyperloop train.
Image courtesy of Tesla.
Musk explained that transferring the world away from fossil fuels won’t require as much money and collective effort as many would speculate. In his presentation, Musk illustrates that fossil fuel independence would require about 160 million Power Pack units to take the United States totally off oil dependence and around 900 million Power Pack units to take the world over off of oil. Musk went on to say that we as humans are capable of doing this, highlighting the fact that the entire building in which the presentation was being held was running off of power stored from the solar panels on the roofs using Tesla’s own Power Pack units only.
What does the Power Wall mean for homeowners? It gives homeowners another reason to evaluate not only their carbon footprint, but also revive the viability of driving your own energy costs down without having to sacrifice usage as much. The Power Wall system is definitely ideal for homes that are very remote and do not have good access to a power grid. Musk speaks about being able to bring this technology to more impoverished parts of the world that will be able to autonomously charge the battery during the day and be ready for use during peak evening and night hours. For regions that are prone to weather-related power outages from downed power lines, a Powerwall unit can provide a good backup generator system that you do not need to put gasoline in.
Tesla seems to be spearheading the effort to make real progress in getting the world to relinquish it’s addiction to fossil fuel energy with Elon Musk at the helm. It’s probably that in time, the Powerwall and Power Pack units will come down in price and rise in popularity as the technology proves itself. Tesla also states that it is striving to bring down the cost of electricity per kWh down in cost by as much as 30 percent in the coming years for its Power Pack, so let’s hope Mush has another electrified ace up his sleeve. His gambit may be working already, though: less than a week after their release, Powerwall units are already sold out through the middle of 2016.