Green Cities

Why Tesla’s New Solar Battery is Such a Big Deal

On April 30th Elon Musk of Tesla Motors unveiled a new product, the Tesla solar battery.  This battery is designed to be powered by solar panels on ordinary homes, and can help to decrease the amount of energy a household uses from the electricity grid.  In current systems, solar panels produce energy, and any of this energy that is not used by a household is sold back to the power grid.  In this new venture, Tesla’s solar battery will use excess energy produced to charge the battery, which can be used during peak hours when electricity is more expensive or overnight when no energy is generated from a household’s solar panels. This lithium-ion battery comes in two types, the Powerwall which comes in 7kwh or 10kwh models priced between $3000 and $3500, and the Powerpack which is a 100kwh unit for businesses and cities, priced at $25,000.  Don’t think that it will be easy to acquire one of these highly sought after batteries though. Within the first week, there have already been $800 million worth of reservations and the batteries are currently sold out until mid-2016. These new batteries are so highly sought after due to the revolutionary way that they are designed.  Normally, lithium batteries of this size are prone to overheating, some even catching fire or melting.  But due to the Tesla battery’s design, consisting of thousands of liquid cooled thumb-sized batteries, this issue has been bypassed.  Since their unveiling, the batteries have received critiques regarding the fact that they may not work as well as previously expected, however Tesla still has several months to work out the issues with their batteries and test them over a long period of time. Some companies have already allegedly made the switch. Wal-Mart has installed the Tesla batteries at 13 superstores in California. Batteries are also said to have been included in blueprints for Apple’s new campus and installed in Google offices. While the price seems exorbitant, these batteries are currently the cheapest in the market by a large margin.  This makes the battery a good option for people with solar panels aiming to further decrease their carbon emissions, and makes solar panels a better long term investment for households.  In fact, studies show that the average American will be able to completely pay off their purchase of the Powerwall in a little over four years.   The Tesla solar battery may not be the end to coal powered electricity in the world, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Kevin Hauff, Intern