Tesla Motors is morphing into Tesla Energy with its recent announcement that they will be manufacturing batteries for home and commercial applications, not just for their electric cars. The market demand for energy storage capacity is seen as a profitable and expanding business by Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk.
Update: Just days after Tesla’s announcement that their Powerwall lithium-ion battery system went on sale 38,000 orders have been reserved. “The response has been overwhelming. Like, crazy,” Musk said. “We’re basically sold out through the first half of next year.”
Included in the initial orders are reservations for about 2800 Powerpacks, the larger units designed for businesses and industrial usage. Musk admitted that he thought Tesla’s latest product line would appeal more to industrial companies than individual customers.
The sales figures point to the fact that there is a very robust customer demand for energy storage for non-commercial usage, indicating that the majority of customers so-far are looking for battery backup power for their homes. There is the 10kWh version Powerwall that’s optimized for use as a backup system and a 7kWh designed for daily cycling—used in conjunction with home generated renewables. Either unit of course could be configured for a small business set up as well.
In the big picture context of justified concerns about an EMP-induced grid down scenario, it’s interesting to speculate where the Tesla Energy battery packs fit into the overall mix.
The Surprising Fact about Home Solar Energy Systems
The thing I didn’t realize about the majority of residential solar energy systems installed today is that they are NOT configured to supply backup electricity to the home owners in the event of a power outage of the utility grid. That’s because most of these systems lack batteries to store any surplus that is produced by the renewable source. Conventionally, any surplus feeds back into the inter-tie connection to the grid and is “net-metered” as a credit that compensates the home-based energy producer on next month’s electric bill.
So in effect, the utility grid itself serves as the reservoir for energy storage. If the grid ever goes down, there is no backup power for use in this type of system, because it already fed back through the commercial inter-tie. It looks like there are plenty of customers who want to supplement this with battery storage capacity by adding the Tesla Powerwall into their home designs. Of course, the reason many residential solar energy systems lack the battery backup is the added cost that represents.
Most experts agree that for most rooftop solar applications in today’s market conditions, it just doesn’t make economic sense to add in the cost of batteries to today’s grid-tied installations. However, the Tesla Powerwall systems reach a niche market by providing backup energy that is odorless, silent (not-noisy) and completely clean. (Many preppers already appreciate the security advantage that silent operation offers over a noisy generator that alerts the whole neighborhood of your whereabouts.)
SolarCity, the nation’s largest retailer of rooftop solar — with Musk as its chairman, has decided not to include the 7kWh Powerwall that’s optimized for daily use into its recommended solar packages.
According to SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass the battery “doesn’t really make financial sense” because of regulations that allow most U.S. solar customers to sell extra electricity back to the grid”.
Tesla is hoping to bring battery prices down through the advantages of large volume manufacturing when its new massive $5 billion battery factory begins production next year. As government incentives and regulations evolve, as battery prices continue the trend downward, and (who knows) if anyone catches-on that the grid has this big question mark of reliability due to the EMP problem, battery backup power for residential renewables systems could gain widespread usage.
WHAT? Tesla Battery Not Optimized for Solar – Yet
Another surprising fact is that with all the recent public attention and interest in the Tesla batteries the Tesla Powerwall 10 kWh model doesn’t work that well with solar. It is really only intended to be used as occasional backup when the electricity goes out. That’s because it’s not designed to go through more than about 50 charging cycles a year. And while the smaller 7 kWh Powerwall is designed to stand up to the repeated charge cycles that go with a solar configuration, the need for its inclusion in most renewable energy applications is negligible.
Want to use Tesla batteries to move completely off the grid? You’ll just to have to wait. “Our residential offering is battery backup,” replies Bass via a recent email. Actually, Solarcity plans to offer an off-grid package next year in Hawaii, where electricity prices are almost triple the U.S. average.
So I was wondering how all this media publicity and talk about batteries, off grid applications and solar renewable energy, etc. would play into the whole discussion and theme here at protectgrid.com
One thing I noticed is that Elon Musk did not, publicly at least, give any leverage or credence to any EMP scare talk. (Even though that could possibly put his company’s battery sales through the rooftop!—pun intended.) He DID talk about battery powered backup energy in the case of a grid blackout. And make no mistake about it, he envisions that Tesla is going to be a major player in advancing the next phase of the solar energy revolution forward. The #1 reason that this company executive billionaire supports the use of renewable, non-carbon-based, energy sources is to minimize the massive, global climate change that science claims is underway.
Many of course blame fossil fuel burning as the cause for all our climate change woes.
Talking about off-grid energy for EMP preparedness reasons has not really entered the national conversation quite yet. What is encouraging is that with the hoopla of the Tesla launch, a whole lot of people are getting involved in the conversation about backup power and off grid energy.
And the stated enterprise-level intentions of a major supplier bringing residential, utility and industrial scale battery storage pack systems to the domestic marketplace can only be good news when it comes to the development of tomorrow’s indie grid movement.
What IS the indie grid movement? Well, it’s living independent of the grid. Now let’s see how soon energy storage systems/batteries become affordable for the average, middle class household. That’s a main driver of how fast and deep going “off-grid” indeed becomes a “movement”.
Editor’s Note: While other arguments must be considered, the fact that in most rooftop solar applications there exists no emergency power backup for residential usage – very counter-intuitive to us prepper types — and given the add-on costs involved in going solar despite tax breaks and other incentives, there yet remains this strong testimonial to the draw that green, renewable, non-carbon-based energy has on the buying public. People simply feel good about going with “renewable” energy supplies and some make the choice for doing so for no other reason than it’s thought to be more Earth friendly.