Power Play

Power Play

30 December, 2015
Tesla
One GIANT step towards weaning the world off fossil fuels
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We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun. You don’t have to do  anything, it just works, turns up every day, and produces ridiculous amounts of power,” says Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors.

But the only problem with solar power is that the sun does not shine at night – a flaw that was – for a long time – the greatest roadblock for mainstream, home-grown renewable energy.

Not any more.

Tesla has designed a battery that allows zero-emissions power generation 24 hours a day. Now, you can store renewable energy and dispense it when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing. You can also rely on it as backup when the grid goes offline, or in a natural disaster. You can even use it to regulate energy price fluctuations by “load-shifting” – charging the battery up when demand is low (and prices cheap), and using it when prices spike during peak hours. It effectively frees you to be your own utility company!
 
Part of the reasons that Tesla is able to launch the new solution is our experience in developing the battery for Roadster and Model S,” says a Tesla representative to Ecozine. “Although the cells are not exactly the same, we are leveraging the same architectures, battery management systems, and technologies as the Model S battery.”

Enter the power pack, or, “the missing piece that’s needed to transition to a sustainable energy world,” as Elon calls it.
 
Tesla’s home battery, the Powerwall, is a rechargeable lithium- ion battery designed to store energy for solar power generation. The unit can be mounted on a wall, and is integrated with the grid to give users the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve. It costs US $3,500 for a 10-kilowatt hour version, and US $3,000 for a 7kWh unit (the average US home uses 30kWh of energy a day, according to the US Energy Information Administration). It’s also relatively thin and light – just under 100kg and 18cm deep – and it’s designed so you can stack up to nine together.

It sounds, to us, like nothing short of a revolution in energy generation. And judging by the barrage of Powerwall reservations (at the time of press, units were sold out until 2016!), it might just be one. Even moreso since household energy is not the only area Tesla Power is showing signs of impending domination.

Tesla is looking to establish a veritable storage empire, and in order to do so has also developed the Powerpack – a battery designed for commercial and utility-scale storage. They come in 100-kilowatt-hour blocks that can be stacked, clustered, and scaled infinitely. This has attracted an enormous amount of interest from big business, including Walmart, Amazing and Target – confirmed customers of Tesla Energy Storage just a few days after the battery announcement. One nameless utility had even ordered 2,500 Powerpack towers before the product was unveiled publically!
 
And of course they are. It makes sense. Utilities and big business want it for the same reason you would want it in your home, but on a bigger scale. They want to be able to use all this alternative energy, store it, and send it out to their clients when they need it. Tesla itself is even developing a US $5 billion ‘Gigafactory’ in Nevada for such needs.

In typical visionary fashion, Elon  is  dreaming  big.  Very big. “The goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world,” he says. But he understands it cannot be done alone. With this newest development – as with may others – Tesla has made the patent design for its battery technology, and gigafactory, open source. It is actively encouraging, and hoping, that other companies emulate this on a corporate and global scale. In his speech at the Powerwall release, Elon shared a remarkable statistic. It would take 160 million Powerpacks to transition the entire US to solar-powered electricity run households, and it would take 900 million Powerpacks to transition the entire world
as such.

“This is within the power of humanity to do. We have done things like this before,” says Elon. “It is something that we must do. We can do. And we will do.”
 
POWER UP
You can reserve the Powerwall Tesla home battery on Tesla’s website, and it will be available for delivery in Asia Pacific in early to mid 2016. The commercial battery is available today for businesses and utilities. www.teslamotors.com/powerwall (This is an independent article, not an advertisement, by the way - we just think this thing is amazing!)

By: Alex Andersson
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