Late Thursday night in Los Angeles, Tesla announced “Tesla Energy,” described by the company in a statement as “a suite of batteries for homes, businesses, and utilities fostering a clean energy ecosystem and helping wean the world off fossil fuels.”
The statement continued: “Tesla is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company. Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the official announcement onstage at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, CA, just south of LA.
“We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the Sun,” he said, stressing that solar power is the best way to end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels and head off a disastrous future in which we are overwhelmed by CO2 in the atmosphere.
What’s the problem? The Sun doesn’t shine at night. So you need to store the power gathered by solar panels. But existing batteries, as Musk quipped, “suck.”
The “missing piece,” according to him, is Tesla’s suite of batteries. And they will not suck.
The home battery, called the “Powerwall,” is intended to store solar energy and enable customers to bank grid electricity from non-peak periods and use it during peak times, saving money. It looks “like a beautiful piece of sculpture,” Musk said. You can order it now, it’s wall-mounted, and it comes in different colours.
“The Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation,” Tesla said.
“The Powerwall consists of Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall and is integrated with the local grid to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.”
There will be two versions, according to Tesla:
The Powerwall is available in 10kWh, optimised for backup applications or 7kWh optimised for daily use applications. Both can be connected with solar or grid and both can provide backup power. The 10kWh Powerwall is optimised to provide backup when the grid goes down, providing power for your home when you need it most. When paired with solar power, the 7kWh Powerwall can be used in daily cycling to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar into the night when sunlight is unavailable.
Tesla’s selling price to installers is $US3500 for 10kWh and $US3000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) Deliveries begin in late Summer.
There will also be a battery application for businesses; and one for utilities, both operating on a larger scale than the “Powerwall” home battery. They will be called “Powerpacks.”
Partnering with Tesla on this technology are Amazon, Target, and Southern California Edison, among others.
Musk said that with 160 million Powerpacks, the entire United States could be transitioned to renewable energy.
To demonstrate his point, he revealed that Tesla’s entire event was being powered by solar energy stored in Tesla batteries.
Musk said that initially the Powerwall and Powerpack will be made in Tesla’s Fremont factory, but as the product line scales, it will be made in the massive $US5 -billion Gigafactory that the company is building Nevada.
And there will be many more Gigafactories, Musk said.
The presentation was relatively short, and Musk left the stage after thanking everyone for coming. From the looks of social media activity prior to the event, the party will continue into the Southern California night.
Meanwhile, a Sydney-based fund manager in Australia whose company is responsible for $180 billion globally said today: “Every once in a while, something comes along that changes the world. This could be one of those things.
“When you think about it, you get to the point where a house doesn’t need to be connected to the grid, it’s self-sufficient. If your solar panels can run your house 24/7, you can sever from the grid. I’d do it – hook my house up with a $3500 battery charged by solar panels and not pay any more power bills.”