Tesla’s Powerwall

There’s an increasing awareness today about climate change – its reality, its effect on the planet, and the need for urgent action.

Among other factors, a gradual but definite increase in world population is putting a serious strain on available resources, both renewable and non-renewable.

At a time when the world is hurrying to devise sustainable ways of meeting mankind’s energy needs, the announcement of Tesla Motors’ Tesla Powerwall has people in the energy industry, and people in general, equally excited – there have been 38,000 pre-bookings for the Powerwall till date.

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Tesla Powerwall is a residential wall-mounted storage system with a lithium-ion batterythat charges itself using the energy generated from solar panels during the day. This energy collected from non-peak periods is stored for use during peak periods.

What the Tesla Powerwall offers – and what people are saying

The Powerwall is designed to be light and occupy less space, and is easy to install and use. It’s also significantly cheaper than the other lithium-ion based alternatives currently available in the market. The price point for the Powerwall- from $500 to $700 per kWh installed – is less than half of the cost for residential power storage in Japan, Australia and Germany. Tesla Energy states that once it begins mass production, the cost is likely to come down further.

Meant for home use, the Powerwall has an industrial counterpart –  the Powerpack – which is slated to be a much larger utility scale battery that can be used to run entire businesses, off the grid. The Powerwall charges and discharges quickly, and requires the minimum amount of maintenance, which makes it practical for use in homes as well as commercial applications.

While there’s been excitement around the Powerwall, there are also reactions that range from skepticism to dismissal. Most of it revolves around the amount of power it can offer at the price range (which while cheaper than other alternatives, is still steep for the average consumer).

Tesla recently responded to the criticism by doubling the output of the Powerwall, while keeping the price the same.

What does the Powerwall mean for the future of energy – and our planet?

The energy industry has been using solar energy to run industries in real-time, but one of its most pressing challenges remains the inability to store energy for future use. The Powerwall could be a solution for this – storing sunlight as an emergency backup or even a full-time substitute, making it actually possible to go off the grid.

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It may still be in its nascent stages within niche markets, but this method of storing solar energy could solve many of the world’s power issues – especially in remote and isolated parts of the world where access to electricity is non-existent.

Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk  gives an interesting number in his keynote – he estimates that 2 billion units of the Powerwall could meet all of the world’s transportation and electricity needs. While that number seems large, it points to what we’re capable of – creating a clean energy future.

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Video: James Henson: Why I must speak about climate change.

Read: Battery storage needed to expand renewable energy

Read: The most eco-friendly cities in the world

This post is a part of our People’s Insights Monthly Brief for May, Tech Innovation – Friend or Foe?

Melanie Joe

Melanie Joe

Melanie is Consultant - Research and Insights at MSLGROUP, based in Mumbai. She tracks inspiring initiatives in the digital space for People's Insights.

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