A few days ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a new home battery system. Not the sexiest product at first glance, but a closer look shows that this battery could disrupt the icy progress of the energy industry. Check out the basic concept below to see what I mean.

In other words, it’s huge. According to the CBC, «Musk is trying to bring his electric car’s battery technology into homes and businesses as part of an elaborate plan to reshape the power grid with millions of small power plants made from solar panels.» TechCrunch described the move as «a new line of business that aims to end our dependence on the grid and move to solar power.»

What is Tesla Selling?


During the keynote, Musk announced two new product sets. First there was the Tesla Powerwall home battery. This is a neat looking PSU that can be mounted and stacked (up to 9 depths) on the interior or exterior walls of your home or small business.

There are two models: a 7 kW battery for $3000 and a $10,000 battery for $3500. The product’s portability makes it an ideal solution for supplying power to off-grid locations, as well as areas with unstable grid access, with frequent blackouts and blackouts.

Both models are available for pre-order now and should be available this summer.

The second product is a much larger version of the battery for use in medium to large companies and utilities (offering from 10 kW up to 10 MW + batteries) . The largest stores have enough power to run a typical US home for nearly a year. It was these batteries that powered the entire conference where the products were announced.

Why is this big news?

Solar panels

Even though the Sun creates enough energy to power the globe, we can currently thank solar power for a measly 0.23% of the energy the US consumes (compared to 1% overall). And, according to Tesla, » The US energy sector alone produces over 2,000 million metric tons of CO2, which is like burning 225 billion gallons of gas. The EPA says it will take 1.6 billion acres of US forest to neutralize environmental damage.» This does not lead to happy forecasts for the future, and it will lead to the fact that we will breathe such air.

One of the main reasons why our use of sustainable energy is growing so slowly is the lack of suitable batteries to store the generated energy. During the launch, Musk stated that current batteries are «expensive, unreliable and bad in every way». Without affordable and reliable batteries, we have two huge problems: having electricity at night and power outages.

But why do I even need a battery?

Tesla Energy1

As Wired points out:

“A home battery will allow you to be more energy independent. Whether you have solar panels or wind-generated electricity, they don’t always produce the same amount of power. With a battery, you can store this energy during the day (or during the wind) and then use it at night.

A home battery will also allow you to get electricity from the electric company at night when rates are lower and then use it during the day. Indeed, it is a win-win. You win with a lower electricity bill, and the electric company wins with lower demand throughout the day.”

Once we have batteries that can store the right amount of energy, that don’t depend on a grid connection, and that are affordable enough to be distributed on a larger scale, then we are on the verge of destroying the energy industry as a whole. And that’s exactly what Musk suggests.

How does this solve the problem?

Tesla Energy2

Nowadays, installing a home battery to increase your energy independence is costly and full of hassle. Batteries (usually lead-acid) can be tricky to install and require regular maintenance. All of them must be connected together. They need to be replaced. They take up too much space. They are ugly

Is it surprising that people choose a diesel generator over a battery?

However, Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries are extremely easy to install, fully automated, and require no maintenance. Another win-win.

Along with the:

“Without a home battery, excess solar power is often sold to a power company and purchased in the evening. This discrepancy increases the demand for power plants and increases carbon emissions. Powerwall bridges this gap between renewable energy supply and demand by bringing solar power to your home when you need it.”
(Tesla Powerwall).

But that’s not all. The idea here is not to have every battery-powered property run entirely on solar power. The aim is to reduce the planet’s overall reliance on fossil fuels by creating localized networks of home batteries (or larger industrial batteries) that can generally be seen as a power plant in their own right.

Theoretically, this could lead to entire villages, towns, cities and eventually countries being able to generate electricity in a completely sustainable, renewable way, completely independent of fossil fuels, in a way that was not possible before.

Sure, the $3,000+ price tag might scare some people off the market for now, but keep in mind that this is the first iteration of the product. The battery is only 92% efficient and contains no AC/DC converter. But for the part of the kit that aims to save money over the years after purchase (investment), it is very affordable compared to alternatives.

However, the main selling point (for now) is the prospect of backup power. However, given economies of scale, as technology becomes cheaper, more and more people will be able to turn their homes and neighborhoods into reliable, independent power plants.

Is this a solution?

Elon Musk

This development belongs to the guy from SpaceX: the first private a company that successfully launched a rocket into orbit despite overwhelming opposition. It’s also from the guy who, again against strong opposition, launched Tesla, an all-electric car company that is now heavily into autonomous vehicles. If anyone can dream bigger and implement your dreams, this is Elon Musk. Historically, betting against him has failed.

What really sets this development apart from other sustainable developments Musk allows anyone to freely use his technology. All Tesla patents are freely available for any use. And this is where the revolutionary part of this project starts to really stand out.

Musk has taken this technology through the boring, slow part of the exponential curve, and now that it’s ready, he’s launching it for the entrepreneurial public to do what they like.

As stated in the book Bold: How to Get Big, Create Wealth, and Influence the World: “Creating a simple and elegant user interface gives entrepreneurs the ability to use this new tool to solve problems, start a business, and most importantly, experiment.”

The great design and open technology that Musk brings to us is the “simple and elegant user experience” that the sustainable energy industry needs. The barriers to experimentation have finally been removed.

Musk saw that if entrepreneurs embrace this technology without the burden of paying for these patents, then we could be on to something huge. By democratizing technology, he hopes to drastically reduce the time it takes to disrupt this market and make as much impact as possible. Not primarily for profit, but for humanity.

What is the coming day?

Tesla Energy

If Musk manages to distribute 2 billion of these batteries around the globe, we will finally be able to use enough energy from the Sun to power the entire planet. 2 billion is a huge amount, but that’s as many cars as we have on the road, which makes Musk believe that humanity can actually do it. All we have to do is connect the dots, and Tesla’s new and future battery technologies may be the most important of these dots to reverse our reliance on non-renewables without resorting to crazy power generation ideas.

Do you think this could be the start of a more sustainable energy industry, or are we dreaming too big?

Image Credits: Solar Panels by Kedin Dooley (Flickr), Pollution! Agustin Ruiz (Flickr), Elon Musk, Tesla Factory, Fremont Maurizio Pesce (Flickr), Tesla Powerwall Press Kit

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