Home is Where the Battery Is: Tesla's Powerwall Launch
Elon Musk unveiled his Powerwall last month: a home 'battery pack' which he promises will revolutionise the generation and consumption of domestic energy... Can the 'Powerwall' battery deliver - and what does this mean for the average home?
Most people recognise the name 'Tesla' as the organisation behind the electric cars which have been shaking up the transportation industry for several years. Now, Elon Musk - the billionaire inventor behind it all - is entering the energy sector, with a battery pack for the home which is both affordable and hefty enough to meet modern household needs.
How it works
The 'Powerwall' is a wall-mounted, sleekly packaged, lithium-ion battery pack which can contain up to 10 kwh of energy. It charges with solar power and allows you to store that energy for use at night when the sun, obviously, isn't shining. It's small enough, at just over a metre, to be able to fit on your garage wall and can be stacked with other units to provide more power. You can draw on the battery's reserves during power cuts, or at peak demand times when energy companies charge more for their supplies.
Musk has made no secret of his plans for the battery which he claims could eliminate the need for carbon fuel altogether. Energy storage is a crucial next step if we're going to, as a planet, move away from overuse of carbon fuels - and infrared technology is already part of that push: more sustainable and efficient than convection systems, infrared heating panels seem ideally suited to a home-battery power source.
Could your home be battery powered?
Elon Musk's goal is certainly ambitious, and one which all of us in the sustainable energy sector should take note of - but is it realistic? The Powerwall’s launch price is just under £2000 - a hefty upfront sum for anyone trying to get their energy bills down in today's climate. So... will it save you money? Let’s consider the practicalities:
- The average cost of a UK kilowatt hour is 15p
- The Tesla Powerwall holds 7kwh -10kwh
- A fully charged Powerwall can store around £1.00 of energy
- There are other costs to consider, such as charging time and getting an electrician to connect the unit to existing wiring
Obviously, in the short term, the Powerwall is going to represent a significant cost for the average sustainability-seeking homeowner. While costs will drop as the device shows its worth, and becomes more widely used, the real impact of the Powerwall is going to be the energy transformation it brings to our homes.
The Powerwall’s infrared potential
Home battery packs will reduce our dependence on the grid, letting us draw instead on solar power to meet our energy needs. Solar panels fitted on roofs, connected to battery units like the Powerwall installed elsewhere in our homes, will form a sustainable, closed-loop of energy generation, storage and consumption. That stored power could be exported, too: electric cars could be charged from the Powerwall (it’s certainly a neat cross-promotion opportunity with Tesla’s transport wing).
At Redwell, we’re excited to see the effect Powerwall has on infrared technology. The potential of the home battery means that in a few years, we’ll be able to heat our homes and businesses entirely with infrared panels powered directly by the sun - and then use the power stored in devices like the Powerwall battery during the night. Wireless thermostats will also give us incredibly precise control over how the heat we generate is used. The Powerwall represents a chance to disconnect from the grid without compromising comfort or convenience - and a chance for us all to collectively contribute to the fight against carbon emissions.
A vision for the future
Innovation and ambition are vital to the success of sustainable energy - and Elon Musk is hoping the Powerwall continues that tradition. Customers are responding to the promise of Tesla’s home battery: the company recently announced 38,000 Powerwall units had been pre-ordered, outstripping supply for the year.
With competitors on the market already (although none as high profile as the Powerwall) plenty of people will be watching very carefully to see whether Tesla's new battery really is the start of a home energy revolution.