Over the weekend, Tesla’s energy division introduced the world to a new solar roof that it’s been working on, alongside a brand new version of the Powerwall home battery storage system that holds twice as much juice. While each on its own is very cool, putting the two together might mean big things for homeowners in sunny Australia.
Australia is one of the sunniest continents in the world, and recently the original Powerwall has been a runaway success with new and existing solar installers and homeowners that want to capture photovoltaic energy during times of peak sun to off-set night-time power usage from the grid.
Natural Solar’s Chris Williams told Gizmodo the new Powerwall’s smaller form factor is a big contributor to its value to new installations. “Due to the abundance of roof space, sunshine and relatively large blocks of land, solar shingles are the perfect product for the Australian market.
“We see the ever-evolving segment of a fully integrated energy efficient home as the cornerstone of renewables and a greener future in Australia — and this includes integrating renewable products, including the solar roof and Powerwall 2, into the construction phase of a home for a seamless installation.”
Natural Solar was responsible for some of the first Tesla Powerwall installations in Australia, and has installed thousands in the last year. The Powerwall 2 is smaller, but has twice the energy density as the original, and can be installed either on the ground or on the wall of a house.
According to Williams, the big differences for homeowners are “a lower price per kWh, increased capacity for battery storage from 7kWh to 14kWh and a higher power rating allowing users to draw more power from the battery instantaneously.
“The ability to store more power within Tesla Powerwall means greater instantaneous output; put simply more power is stored for a longer period of time which allows greater utilisation and storage ability for excess solar power produced.”
The solar roof combined with a Powerwall 2 should get Australian homeowners closer than ever before to off-the-grid electricity independence. On a large enough roof and with multiple Powerwall 2s to store the energy, it’s already possible, but a solar roof being a complete replacement would allow solar panels to face the sun for every hour of daylight.
“As technology continues to develop, we are well on the way to creating more independence from the grid for Australian consumers; this is evident as we can see how battery storage solutions have allowed people to remain relatively unaffected by the recent South Australian blackouts,” Williams says.
“Our belief is as a market, we are currently 5-7 years more advanced than previously anticipated, based on this constant push for innovation within the renewables space. The advantage of adopting these products isn’t just about independence or environment, it’s also about saving money.”
The solar roof isn’t going to displace traditional solar panels any time soon, though — although people are very tempted right now.
“Like with any new technology and developments, there has been and will continue to be an initial influx of interest in solar shingles from early adopters, particularly those who are building a home,” he says.
“On-roof panels will, however, continue to remain a great solution and will be cost effective for people who aren’t intending to do a mass renovation on their home or roof. They are proven to be energy efficient, are simple to install, and innovation within on-roof panels hasn’t yet slowed down, so people can still reap the benefits of renewable technology advancements.”