Tesla has just made a very exciting announcement. It’s now using its clean energy nous not only to make some of the world’s best electric cars, but also to power your home.
Tesla Energy wants the world to be cleaner, and it’s doing so by letting homes, businesses and power companies store their electricity better and reduce peak load on the grid. Here’s the best part — we’ll get the battery in Australia too, at an incredibly cheap price. It’s called Powerwall.
Homes: The Tesla Energy Powerwall
The Powerwall is Tesla Energy’s battery for homes. It’s available in two sizes — 7kWh and 10kWh, for either $3000 or $3500 US dollars to installers — and is basically an oversized uninterruptable power supply. That price is awesome, and should make the batteries affordable even after installers add their fees and overheads.
Those prices are amazing, by the way. They mean Tesla is able to produce batteries for around $250/kWh, where competitors that are already in Australia cost $1000/kWh. This will be (and I don’t use this word freely) a gamechanger for energy storage in Australia once they are available. At the moment, information on Australian integrators is light on the ground, although Canberra-based Reposit Power has apparently teamed up with Tesla to bring the Powerwall to Australia.
The Powerwall has two key purposes and one complementary benefit. It’ll connect to both the existing power grid and your solar panel setup if you have one, either storing the energy your solar panels receive for later use or charging itself from the energy grid in times of cheapest off-peak power (for most users, that’s overnight). It’ll also provide backup power in the case of an outage.
That way, the Powerwall provides a baseline of power to your house during times of peak power cost, but will either provide that power effectively for free (off solar) or at the cheapest possible grid rate (by charging off-peak). The Powerwall battery is rated to 2kW of continuous power and 3kW of peak electricity draw — enough to handle the basic needs of a small household’s appliances, lighting and devices.
The Powerwall comes in a bunch of colours, and is designed to be placed on your wall and be visible rather than hidden away. You can stack the batteries, too — anything from one to two to up to nine Powerwalls can be stacked for up to 90kWh of energy storage (at US$3500 a pop). US residents can order the Powerwall now, with shipping in three to four months. Batteries will initially be produced in Tesla’s Fremont factory in California and then production will move to the Gigafactory next year.
The Powerwall isn’t going to reduce your household’s grid energy usage to zero — it’s not a big enough battery and would also require significant investment in solar to charge completely — but it will reduce peaks in grid electricity reliance, letting Powerwall users charge overnight instead of in the day time when everyone else is using the network and increasing demand.
And because of that shifting of load, it will reduce the world’s need for peak power generation, theoretically reducing the need for dirty power sources like fossil fuels. Australia relies heavily on comparatively dirty coal and gas power generation for baseline and peak power demand, although investment in solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy is increasing — it’s Tesla’s goal to allow these to contribute more and therefore make things cleaner.
Tesla has confirmed to Gizmodo that the Powerwall will begin sales and installation in Australia in the first quarter of next year, although prices are still to be confirmed. Providers of the technology will be confirmed closer to that launch date.
- Mounting: Wall Mounted Indoor/Outdoor
- Inverter: Pairs with growing list of inverters
- Energy: 7kWh or 10kWh
- Continuous Power: 2kW
- Peak Power: 3kW
- Round Trip Efficiency: >92 per cent
- Operating Temperature Range: -20C (-4F) to 43C (110F)
- Warranty: 10 or 20 years
- Dimensions: H: 1300mm W: 860mm D:180mm
Tesla Energy For Businesses
Beyond the home Powerwall battery, Tesla Energy also wants to supply larger cells to business users — as the Powerpack. Based on the full-size batteries of the Tesla Model S and Model X, said cells will be able to handle significantly more peak and continuous demand by larger users and will last longer while doing so.
There’s no word on when and how this will come to Australia, but Tesla is actually already partnering with some pretty big operations in the United States with commercial battery storage and backup systems. Amazon and Target are the two biggest names; Amazon Web Services is pioneering a 4.8 megawatt-hour pilot of Tesla battery systems for its western US data centre region, and Target will install batteries in some of its stores to test its potential.
Tesla actually ran its Powerwall and Powerpack intro event from a Powerwall setup, which drew its power from a set of solar cells on the building’s roof — no extra energy required from the grid.
Here’s what Tesla has to say:
Based on the powertrain architecture and components of Tesla electric vehicles, Tesla energy storage systems deliver broad application compatibility and streamlined installation by integrating batteries, power electronics, thermal management and controls into a turn key system.
Tesla’s energy storage allows businesses to capture the full potential of their facility’s solar arrays by storing excess generation for later use and delivering solar power at all times. Business Storage anticipates and discharges stored power during a facility’s times of highest usage, reducing the demand charge component of the energy energy bills. Energy storage for business is designed to:
- Maximize consumption of on-site clean power
- Avoid peak demand charges
- Buy electricity when it’s cheapest
- Get paid by utility or intermediate service providers for participating in grid
- Back up critical business operations in the event of a power outage