Last Thursday Elon Musk revealed a new product from Tesla, the Tesla Powerwall. For those that are unaware, the Powerwall is essentially a battery that can power your home. It is able to supply up to 10 kWh of power for the $3,500 model, and a single one could store enough electricity to power an average home for around eight hours. The Powerwall, along with its industrial counterpart the Tesla Powerpack, is a revolutionizing technology in the world of energy, creating a means of energy storage for intermittent power sources.
What Tesla’s product does is overcome the biggest barrier to renewable sources of energy—an inability to store energy for later use. Until now batteries have simply been too inefficient and unreliable to power anything except for small objects, or in the words of Elon Musk, “they suck.” The Powerwall and Powerpack mark the first commercial success in bringing batteries powerful enough to power a home—or even a factory, as the factory where Tesla will produce the Powerpacks will be powered entirely by (naturally) Powerpacks.
Musk also pointed out that this technology will allow power consumers to operate completely off the grid. This opens up new possibilities for battery technology, since it can now overcome infrastructural problems in developing energy infrastructure, or help to provide energy security to consumers that operate in areas with high infrastructure vulnerabilities (like overhead power lines in a hurricane). This technology will provide alternatives to the traditional approach of energy importation and infrastructure development, and this could be particularly important for places that are abundant in solar energy, but must pay high costs to import fossil fuels.
The Powerwall/Powerpack will help to put the world on track for more incorporation of renewable energy to supplement traditional sources of energy, serving to reduce emissions. The cost of photovoltaics is dropping, and coupled with improved battery technology we can expect to see this technology enhancing our energy security in ways that weren’t possible before. The Powerwall and Powerpack are another piece closer to completing the renewable energy security puzzle.
Below is Elon Musk’s debut of the Tesla Powerwall.