Elon Musk reveals “The Missing Piece” of his green energy revolution
Last week former Paypal billionaire and owner of Tesla, Solar City and SpaceX announced what he called “The Missing Piece” to his pursuit of green energy not just for our cars but our homes and industry too.
Musk is a pioneer of space-age technology. His most transformative endeavour so far is his electric car company, Tesla. Tesla has finally made electric cars exciting and reliable, thanks mostly to his new battery technology. But prior to getting Tesla off the ground, he was a major investor in commercial solar energy with his Solar City power generation company in the US.
His premises is solar is the purest green energy, which has the most potential. However it has a major flaw that has so far hindered it’s commercial viability.
When the sun doesn’t shine…
The problem with solar is that the sun isn’t constant for each location on earth.
Unlike a coal or nuclear power station that can maintain a near-consistent power output day or night, solar has a few short hours of peak production – and then none at all for several hours each day.
Or more accurately… each night!
However, generally our energy consumption is the polar opposite of solar’s supply. Large peaks in the early morning and later in the evening means that over-production during the day doesn’t match demand and energy is wasted. Or worse still, not there when you need it – meaning you still need dirty fossil-fuel power stations to back it up.
Batteries are the answer
Although it’s been known for a long time that battery storage was answer, until now there was no commercial or domestic battery of the size, capacity and price to make it possible in everyday homes.
But thanks to the development of their series of electric cars, Tesla have successfully improved the capacity, longevity and reduce the size of their batteries. Now that technology is available in your home.
Telsa announced their new product – The Powerwall – A sleek wall-mounted battery for your home. The Powerwall allows your home to charge from your own solar supply during the day and have the energy stored for use throughout the night. Alternatively, you can set your battery to charge during off-peak hours (generally during the wee hours of the morning) and store the energy for use during the day to avoid peak rates.
The Powerwall has an additional benefit – that in the event of an emergency and power outage (common in many of America’s South West states in the summer) – your Powerwall can keep your house going for many hours. They can even be mounted in pairs for homes with greater energy capacity needs.
Selling like electric hot cakes
The most remarkable thing about this announcement is that this is not some future concept Tesla and Musk have been working on. These Powerwalls are starting to roll off the production line and are immediately available to buy with prices starting from a relatively affordable $3,000.
The announcement took the tech world by storm and within a matter of days over 38,000 power walls had been pre-ordered (See: Elon Musk: Demand for Tesla’s home battery is ‘crazy off the hook’). Even Musk was surprised by the speed in which the product took off. They had earmarked a third of the production at his gigafactory in Reno but may now increase that to 50%. Musk said he could completely switch over production 100% to the Powerwalls and still not keep up with initial demand this year.
Will it work in Ireland?
So far the Powerwall is only available in the US. It may be a long time until it reaches Europe and Ireland. And then the question remains if these will work in less sunny climes.
Although we have little or no solar energy in the Irish energy system, there is wind power which also suffers the same ebb and flow as solar (if not worse). And even without a significant proportion of green energy in our system, there is still the opportunity to charge your Powerwall at off-peak times, saving you a decent sum from your annual electricity bill.
More importantly, this development will pave the way for more investment into solar and other green but less-reliable energy sources. Which can only be a good thing for consumers and the planet.
Go to www.teslamotors.com/powerwall to find out more.
Have your Say!
Would you have a wall-mounted super-battery in your home?
Tell us your opinion, would you be happy with one of these in your home? Do you think it would be worth the cost to buy and install at such a cost? Is it wasted without better green energy in Ireland?