On April 30, Elon Musk made a highly anticipated, game-changing announcement. The date had previously been set aside to celebrate the birth of my youngest sister. This day -I’m sure Anna will not mind- will now be shared with the day Elon Musk introduced his new company Tesla Energy, their Gigafactory, and most notably, the new Tesla battery, the Powerwall.
We’re talking a factory as life changing as Henry Ford’s automobile assembly line. It’s technology as important as the mobile phone. It’s a dawn as significant as the dawn of the household Internet. Ok I’m getting carried away.
The Missing Link?
Affordable battery storage has been the missing link in the renewable energy solution. Solar works great when the sun is shining – but at 6pm when we are all at home cooking dinner, we are still so reliant on expensive, pollution-reeking, coal-fired power stations. That’s all about to change.
Powerwall is a slick looking, wall-mounted, home storage battery that charges from your existing solar panels, and powers your home when your solar system is not generating enough power. The key to this hybrid solution is the ability to use all the solar power your roof can produce. Instead of selling excess power back to the grid for a measly 8 c/kWh,you can use it when you need it, saving yourself 27c/kWh. Battery backup means you will also have protection against blackouts. But it’s not like battery storage is a new idea – it’s what Mr Musk is doing with the idea that gets me excited!
The yet to be unveiled “Gigafactory” is the key to this revolution. The scale of this factory will bring mass production, and in turn affordable battery prices like we have never seen before. They are now taking orders from US residents. $3000(USD) will give you 7kWh of storage – reducing the cost of batteries to about a quarter of what they currently are. While this is not an immediately affordable electrical independence solution, the announcement was a massive leap forward in home energy storage viability. Combine this with the Tesla policy of open-sourcing the patents of their Gigafactory, and my excitement is justified. Elon’s announcement ushers the dawn of battery storage, the decentralisation of the grid, lower power prices for consumers, and cleaner air for future generations.