A few weeks ago Elon Musk and Tesla announced Tesla Energy and the Powerwall. The Powerwall is Tesla’s attempt at bridging the gap between solar efficiencies and the power grid’s shortcomings, creating a sustainable and ecological power solution. We here at Shatter Buggy are all about ecology and as such, we were very excited for this announcement.
What is a Home Battery For?
The genius of the Powerwall is that it collects energy and charges via solar, if available, or when utility rates are lower. Then, the battery powers your home partially, or hopefully fully, when energy rates are high, typically in the morning or evening. Energy companies charge different rates at different times due to demand for power. For example if It’s 105°F and everybody is running their AC one day, energy will probably cost more at that time. The Powerwall allows one to circumvent this by using the energy stored in their home battery instead of paying the power companies’ high rates. If you have your own solar setup and enough batteries, you can presumably live of the grid.
Currently, most people that have solar do not have a battery solution. This means that their solar panels pump energy into the grid and offsets their electricity bill, but they are still at the will of the grid. If the power goes out for the grid, solar panels or not, your power also goes off. Unless, you have a home battery like the Powerwall. With the Powerwall when the power goes out, the Powerwall takes over, and you stay plugged in. This could be quite handy in areas that experience rolling blackouts, frequently inclement weather or some other use case the would require constant power, medical equipment for example.
Powerwall Cost and Tech Specs
Powerwall comes in a 10 kWh version for $3500 per battery pack and a 7 kWh version for $3000 per pack. The units themselves are wall mounted and about 6 inches deep, and 3 by 4 feet width by height. Each unit comes with it’s own heat management/cooling system and a smart battery management system to control energy flow. The individual packs can be daisy chained together all the way up to 10 MWh. For perspective, the average American household uses about 900 kWh per month. These packs support up to 10 MWh per day.
Is Tesla’s Powerwall Ecological?
On the surface of it, the Powerwall is a great idea and can make the grid much more efficient, reliable, and clean. However, something Tesla has not addressed is the fact that these batteries have a life expectancy of about 10 years, at which point they need to be replaced, repaired or recycled. If investment in the Powerwall goes as Tesla plans, that is a lot of Lithium that needs to be recycled in 10 years. If these used Lithium battery packs are not recycled properly, they could end up having a more detrimental impact than anything. Elon Musk is an environmentalist, a humanitarian and a dreamer. I have faith that he has considered this problem and there is an ecological solution, otherwise, he and his company would not have invested this much time and money into it.
Elon is a real life Iron Man. We here at Shatter Buggy excitedly await his next pipe dream that comes to fruition.
-Shatter Buggy, Denver