At the beginning of 2015, Tesla had been teasing different ideas of what they were working on, which many believed could be another great innovation in the battle for energy independence. Perhaps greater than anyone’s expectations, Tesla has indeed unveiled another great energy technology in May 2015: the Powerwall, a home battery that could change the way energy systems work.
Coming in at a mere 6 inches thick and measuring 3 feet by 4 feet in size, you would likely never imagine that this relatively small battery could store an impressive 10 kWh of energy. By hooking it up to your solar panels (or other power source), it has the capability to not only store this energy for use during the night hours, but can also effectively regulate that energy. In effect, it can gradually feed excess energy back into the grid as needed; or it can store it for use later, depending on the circumstances.
Though the 10kWh version costs only $3,500 itself, SolarCity (the company that would install your battery) charges an upfront cost of $7,140 for the complete system, which includes installation, maintenance, an inverter, and a control system. Either way, the system is only going to become more affordable, just as solar panels have over the last decade. For businesses, the larger Powerpack can go from 100 kWh up to 10MWh, depending on the individual business needs.
In reality, Tesla is not the first company to produce a battery that could be used to store power like this. Certain solar, wind, and other energy systems already can be hooked up to stationary batteries to provide power. Up until now though, these batteries have often been large and bulky. More than this, many of them do not store or regulate power anywhere near as well as this new development from Tesla. Just as the company shook the car industry with their introduction of a vehicle that could travel for hundreds of miles on a single charge, they have now opened up all variety of potential benefits for the home.
Beyond the immediate applications with solar and wind power storage, the real beauty about these home batteries is their potential future applications. As they are tweaked and the cost continues to fall, large power companies can actually start using these to cut their own costs and store more solar power. In places like California, where over half of the power already comes from solar panels, this can become especially helpful.
More than this, it could ultimately lead to the downfall of big energy companies as we know it. With the rise of electric vehicles and self-driving cars, there would be little need for fossil fuels on the road. Additionally, solar, wind, water, and other more environmentally-friendly sources could work to produce stored energy. During non-peak seasons, this energy could easily be stored for use during energy-heavy times. With the battery’s ability to regulate energy, it could even help certain neighborhoods and other communities create their own microgrids, making for less expensive, more renewable energy.