Tesla Moves Into Home and Utility Battery Systems

April 30, 2015

Tesla is making a not-so-secret move into home and grid electric storage.  Look for an announcement in the news late thursday/early friday.

USAToday:

Storage batteries could become a huge business because they solve a big problem related to renewable energy. Sure, rooftop solar cells generate juice during the sunny afternoon, but what about the evening?

The extra energy can be stored in batteries to power homes and businesses after the sun goes down. Demand will be helped along by a California Public Utilities Commission mandate that generators of electric power have stationary storage units.

“What Tesla is doing is an all-in strategy to bring the clean-air revolution to the state. And as California goes, so goes the nation,” says Roland Hwang, energy and transportation program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is also chairman of Solar City, a solar energy provider, which now also offers stationary battery units. Solar City says it has sold 300 units already this year.

Tesla hasn’t been trying hard to keep its big battery plans a secret. In a job posting for a development operations engineer, Tesla says it “has developed a business unit to address the increasing need for stationary storage battery systems, which allows for even higher levels of renewable generation.”

For US Utilities, this ratchets up the pressure for any company that still clings to the past, and their pre-eminent position as electric providers.  Not only are businesses, households, farms and municipalities getting more choices for generating and storing power, they are generally using less of it to do more. Household usage, despite the expanding number of gizmos and gadgets, has been near flat now for several years, and is projected to stay that way.

Energy Information Administration:

U.S. energy consumption has slowed recently and is not anticipated to return to growth levels seen in the second half of the 20th century. EIA’s Reference case projections in the Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) show that domestic consumption is expected to grow at a modest 0.3% per year through 2040, less than half the rate of population growth. Energy used in homes is essentially flat, and transportation consumption will decline slightly, meaning that energy consumption growth will be concentrated in U.S. businesses and industries.

Near-zero growth in energy consumption is a recent phenomenon, and there is substantial uncertainty about the main drivers of consumption as the United States continues to recover from the latest economic recession and resumes more normal economic growth. EIA’s analysis in the AEO2015 includes several cases with various assumptions about macroeconomic growth, world oil prices, and domestic energy resource availability.

Increases in energy consumption are mostly related to economic activity, and U.S. industrial and commercial enterprises are projected to increase output more rapidly than countervailing influences from improved technologies. Existing policies also can moderate energy use. Energy intensity, measured as the amount of energy per unit of output, does continue to decline during the projection period. Nonetheless, industrial energy consumption still rises by 0.7% per year through 2040, while commercial consumption rises 0.5% per year in the AEO2015 Reference case.

Declines in energy consumption tend to result from the adoption of energy efficient technologies (often affected by policy measures) and larger, structural changes in the economy. Although the residential and transportation sectors are different in the ways they consume energy, energy consumption in these sectors through 2040 is projected to remain below historical levels.

Most of the major energy-consuming equipment and appliances in U.S. homes and apartments have been covered by federal energy efficiency standards since the mid-1990s. As this equipment can often last for decades, the United States is only now reaching a period in which most appliances were manufactured and installed in an era when these efficiency standards were in place. Residential consumption has also declined as the population has shifted toward warmer climates, reducing the need for space heating. The corresponding increase in energy for space cooling is much less than energy for heating, thus reducing overall residential energy consumption.

Meanwhile, Europe charges ahead with renewables, and new methods of storage.

eenews.com:

Grid-scale battery storage solutions have arrived in Europe, despite a lingering controversy. No longer a distant dream, projects in Germany are already feeding energy into the grid, while in the United Kingdom and Italy, commercial projects are close to coming online.

Yet their breakthrough potential — for the quick balancing of intermittent renewables and eventual replacement of fossil power plants — has not been fully tested. Grid-level energy storage remains a new frontier, and among a host of modern storage options, batteries are still sometimes tagged as too costly and unproven in real-world environments.

Wouldn’t it be more economical, critics ask, for a country like Germany, which sits in the middle of Europe, to draw on neighboring grids, rather than invest in expensive storage technologies? In Germany, resistance to high-power battery storage has come not just from lobbyists in the energy industry — which has long argued that renewables have to wait for more cost-effective storage — but from respected green energy think tanks. They point to a host of good options already built into a grid network that currently operates without interruption.

10 Responses to “Tesla Moves Into Home and Utility Battery Systems”

  1. climatebob Says:

    New Zealand has a huge abundance of renewable energy and almost no electric transport. We could do with and Elton Musk. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/blog/electric-transport-nz

  2. redskylite Says:

    Yea – TESLA powerwall launched, now I know I’m in the 21st Century

    http://www.teslamotors.com/powerwall

  3. andrewfez Says:

    Pretty cheap batteries too:

    http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/1/8525309/tesla-energy-elon-musk-battery-announcement

    ‘The system breaks down into two separate products: the Powerwall is a home battery system, that comes in a 10 kWh version for $3,500, or a 7 kWh model for $3,000. The unit is about three feet by four feet in size and six inches thick, and comes with integrated heat management and can fit either on the inside or outside of the wall of your home.’

    • MorinMoss Says:

      The one thing I don’t like about it is the power output. Only 2 kw continuous? At 350V??
      Make it 8-10 kw continuous and I’ll buy one.

      • andrewfez Says:

        Yeah at 2kw, you’d have to figure out a way to give your HVAC its own dedicated battery (or batteries).

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    ” Not only are businesses, households, farms and municipalities getting more choices for generating and storing power….”

    Sounds good….. but is it?

    do households, businesses, etc really want to be generating and storing their own power? Is this what it has come to?

    To the best of my recollection – the production and distribution of electrical power is one of the proper functions of our government. Our energy security is a proper interest of our national security.

    Homeowners, business, farms having to provide their own power – with money out of pocket – is madness. This is not Somalia. This is the civilized world.

    Perhaps Elon Musk should start to market:

    * Owner-installed electric fences around your house – because the protection of citizens is no longer a proper role for the Police department?

    * Owner-installed home fire sprinkler systems – because Fire departments just don’t feel like doing it themselves anymore

    * Owner-installed water purification systems – because your Water District doesn’t feel like upgrading its chlorine system

    * Portable pothole-fixing kits for your car’s trunk – see a pothole – fix it yourself!

    We should not be happy and excited to see Elon Musk pushing for-profit energy systems. What we should be, is pissed as hell about it – that our public and quasi-public energy providers are not being directed by government to give us the clean energy people obviously want so much that they are willing to pay for it out of their own pockets.

    The very fact that Tesla and SunCity, etc are in this business is NOT a feature – it is a glaring symptom of government not doing its job. We pay taxes to the government to provide us the energy system that we need – and we are NOT getting the services we deserve.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I am myself greatly pissed because this is detracting from Musk’s mission of colonizing Mars. Let’s keep our focus on what’s really important here!

    • rayduray Says:

      Gingerbaker,

      Sign me up. I like your vision for society. The America we have today is broken. Tesla Energy is not going to be the solution to our social ills.

      David Simon, the creator of The Wire, is in our camp as well. His latest Guardian article is entitled “My Country Is A Horror Show”: http://tinyurl.com/m58k23o

      Elon Musk is a tech genius. He’s solving some real tech problems. But he’s also living and working in an elitist’s paradise with serious blinders on. Kinda like an American Pharoah.

      I’d rather see we Americans get smart and do things like they do, for one example, in Moscow. Where entire neighborhoods are linked to a central heating station and the cost to individual households for winter heating is a fraction of what it would be if they used the American “everyone is only in it for themselves” model of greedy waste.

      That said, I do like the vision of Elon Musk as Captain Jack Sparrow pushing the fossil fuel industry’s pharaohs off the end of a short plank and into shark infested waters. 🙂


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