Tesla Motors is one of the very few companies that have successfully used alternative energy sources.
They manufacture luxury electric cars which are sold in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. We had written about the technology behind these cars here. Tesla vehicles use state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries to power an onboard electric motor.
Last month, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla would sell batteries designed for homes, businesses, and utilities which could efficiently store extra energy for later use. This could be a break-through in one of the biggest problems of renewable energy – storage. Let’s see how.
The batteries that Tesla uses in its cars such as the famous Model S are made of lithium-ion. These batteries are capable of high output and multiple uses, yet with very low maintenance. Tesla has further refined this technology to build new battery storage systems.
Their 'Powerwall' units are literally mounted on walls of residences and can be linked to the solar panels. The batteries can store unused solar-generated energy for later, and so owners can actually consume much more of solar power than they otherwise would. The batteries can also be linked to power grids – this way, excess solar power can be easily routed back into the grid for others to use. This way, these systems are not just back-ups during electricity outages but also help reduce electricity costs.
Tesla has launched two versions of their batteries for homes – a smaller 7kWh Powerwall is meant for daily use and is best used when linked directly to a solar-powered generator. During the day, the system charges directly and therefore solar energy can even be used at night without sunlight. The other Powerwall has an enhanced capacity of 10kWh and is used as a back-up to grid fluctuations or outages. As we know, kWh or Kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy derived from one kilowatt (kW) over an hour.
In addition to these, there are also much larger battery storage systems that Tesla offers to businesses and utilities. Currently, all these systems are manufactured in their factory at Palo Alto but production will soon shift into a giant factory being built in Nevada.
Future Of Electricity Storage
Battery storage systems are currently a small market but with huge potential. While Tesla’s batteries are the cheapest on the market, technology is still very expensive. And other than buying the batteries, consumers will have to spend much more to connect them to solar panels or to the grid. This could make the electricity from Tesla’s system more expensive than normal grid power.
However, given the concern over carbon emissions from fossil-fuel sources, and the fact that battery technology has improved over the years, storage systems are becoming very popular.
Indeed, Tesla has received a huge amount of pre-orders – while the batteries will be shipped only after late summer, they are sold out till mid-2016 with reservations for 38000 Powerwall units and about 2500 orders for their larger systems targeting businesses and utilities. This interest shown by consumers is likely to spur further developments in clean and green renewable energy.