Tesla’s “Power Wall” is the Imac of the Renewable Energy Age

May 1, 2015


I’ve watched a lot of handsomely paid CEOs get on stages for keynote presentations over the past decade, and none were as good as the one I saw Elon Musk give Thursday night in California as he introduced Tesla’s new battery system. I’m sure many people will disagree — I mean, how can you compete with Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone in 2007 — but ultimately Jobs was selling a better smartphone. Musk is selling a better future.

Here’s what I loved about Musk’s presentation. First of all, it was short, clocking in at about 20 minutes. Musk didn’t waste anybody’s time. He used that time to present a problem of critical importance (eliminating humanity’s use of fossil fuels), explained how it can be addressed, and offered a plausible solution in the form of a new product — one that’s priced within reach of a lot of people and available to order. Amazingly, all of those things are actually pretty rare to see in one show. Tesla’s presentation was inspiring, and Musk wasn’t selling some fancy sci-fi trinket that has the benefit of Star Trek nostalgia. Dude was selling a battery.

15 Responses to “Tesla’s “Power Wall” is the Imac of the Renewable Energy Age”

  1. PETER
    i have a IDEA. would YOU like to take over the curatorship of THE CLI
    FI MOVIE AWARDS on an annual basis, starting 2015 awards and onward? I
    feel your background in VIDEO and DOCS and MEDIA can do justice to the
    CLI FI MOVIE AWARDS and boost them to major prominence in USA and
    world media. Interested? Your POV? , i want to hand the MC role over to you. Got time?
    got space on Internet? RSVP and let me know.

  2. kookaburra2 Says:

    Elen Musk deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

  3. redskylite Says:

    At least one university is trying to address the problem by educating by equipping students with the carbon free skills in business, economics and the science of climate change. It’s not that we have plenty of time, this should be taught in schools and Universities everywhere ..

    Then there’s hope for many more Musks in our future …


  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    …the Imac of the Renewable Energy Age.

    Is it really? The Imac was a more user-friendly version of a consumer product.

    The Power Wall is less user-friendly and very expensive product, that needlessly duplicates a non-profit government service – providing electrical power to customers. Less user-friendly – because what we should all have is clean, green, carbon-free energy coming into our homes from our public utilities – not from a huge wall-wart for the rich.

    The Power Wall is a new icon for the privatization of our public utility system. This smells like Nestle purchasing a municipal water district, and selling water at higher prices to make more profit.

    This is the bright and sunny face of the corporate takeover of America’s energy system. This is the argument for school vouchers for the rich, while letting our public schools die from budget cuts.

    This is the argument for America’s for-profit health care system, as opposed to public health care systems. This is the argument for toll roads instead of public transit.This is why the hedge fund disaster destroyed our economy when for-profit and unregulated bankers swallowed up the functions of Fanny Mae:

    This is the ugly face of the privatization and the deregulation of our energy utility system – the most public commons-orientated segment of our economy – with a flourish of trumpets and a ticker-tape parade.

    And every homeowner who installs one of these is a homeowner who, by looking out for number one (himself), is a homeowner with less motivation and less financial ability to want to fund the upgrade of our national energy system. This is his retreat to his own electrical gated community.

    And it will do very little to help us advance as a nation electrically. Rooftop solar is not the answer, folks – how often need it be said?

    Elen Musk deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

    Elon Musk will soon be able to buy Sweden and make his own medals. But our progress toward our energy future is likely being hampered, not advanced by this sort of product.

    • jimbills Says:

      This is one of your better comments recently. I have nothing to argue with it except to say we don’t live in a rational world, and the days of the ‘common good’ are past us. Welcome to Aynrandia.

      Aynrandia is the land where only market solutions are possible, and where everyone looks out for themselves at the exact same time income inequality is skyrocketing. This is a one-way street.

      The $3k price tag on Musk’s battery, which will only last a few hours given most homes full electrical use (and not every day is sunny), is the price tag to distributors. It doesn’t include installation, the fairly intricate wiring that would have to be done, the inverter, and the actual solar panels themselves. It’s really more like $10K plus when it’s all said and done, and that’s IF someone owns instead of rents their home (about 2/3 of Aynrandians own instead of rent).

      Buffett has been in the news recently with wind:

      This is unrelated to this, but I feel the need to share it:

    • andrewfez Says:

      WV State tax dollars at work: http://wvpublic.org/post/wva-governor-announces-250k-grant-pipeline

      Need jobs? Just have the state donate to a private corporation:

      ‘A Preston County natural gas pipeline project that’s expected to create 25 jobs is receiving a $250,000 state grant.

      On Thursday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin visited the Allegheny Wood Products site in Hazelton to announce the grant.

      The money will help extend a natural gas pipeline to the company. It’s expected to help increase lumber production there by 50 percent, from 20 million board feet annually to 30 million board feet.

      The additional 25 jobs would increase the plant’s employment by more than 50 percent by the fall.’

    • Still, if their option is to spend their money to buy another SUV, I’d rather they buy this battery and pack their roofs with solar. They’d still be able to afford a decent EV along with it. Less coal in the furnace and one less polluter on the roads.

      I think its intriguing that if you look at the numbers it doesn’t sound too far fetched, even though people flinch at “illions”. As Musk say, we churn out 60 million new cars every year – so with some will we can churn out whatever else in 60 million instead – and in this case that “something” is a vital advancement in how we solve the biggest problem of renewables.

      Sure in the long run, the bigger solutions as Musk have explained will benefit us all.

    • jpcowdrey Says:

      ” Rooftop solar is not the answer, folks – how often need it be said?”

      There is no “The Answer.” No silver bullets. Multiple pathways toward low carbon sustainable energy, including residential solar and storage should be pursued. How often need it be said?

      In the meanwhile, look at SolarCity’s business plan. Every homeowner who installs one of these systems is incrementally upgrading our national energy system, making it more flexible and sustainable, while simultaneously lowering her electrical bill. It isn’t a zero sum game, unless you are a privately owned utility, unwilling to adapt.

      I feel some of us have become reflexively cynical.

      “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”


      • dumboldguy Says:

        “I feel some of us have become reflexively cynical”, you say?

        I feel that the great majority have instead become reflexively bright-sided and wishful thinkers. I have spent decades studying the human impact on the biosphere, and there is very little good news. It is not cynical to see that Musk (who spends too much time thinking about colonizing Mars) and his ilk are only feeding the bright-sidedness (as they hope to get rich off it, of course).

        It’s all looking like it may be too little, too late to those of us who try to assemble all the puzzle pieces and connect all the dots—-that is realism rather than cynicism. Nearly all of our technological “fixes” and “advances” have had unintended negative consequences, and we are NOT learning from our mistakes—-we are a species whose greatest skills have become kicking the can down the road and whistling past the graveyard.

        Let’s hope that what little progress we are making in small areas reinforces and potentiates progress in others. It’s going to be a very important two years—-the Pope’s encyclical, the Paris talks, the 2016 presidential campaign and election, progress on renewables and the “hurt” they (and divestiture) will put on fossil fuels—-maybe we’ll get lucky. Musk’s marketing BS about batteries that may come out in 2017 from a factory that isn’t even built yet don’t make me feel less “cynical”.

        “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” said some dead old non-white guy? Great sound bite, but basically meaningless. Here are some others—“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “A stitch in time saves nine”, “A watched pot never boils”. Feel free to attach your own AGW-related meaning to them.

  5. andrewfez Says:

    I wonder how well it would work just to have customer batteries storing grid power at night and using that during the day to flatten the 24 hr load curve (for the sake of system efficiency)? They’re scared to death of customers charging at night and reselling the power back to them during the day as evidenced by their sluggish attitude in approving individual solar+battery systems.

  6. Just a query Peter
    What has happened with Eos Energy Storage

    As an aside I have noted interesting research, such as Boron buckyballs that seem to be able to store electrons at high density.

    I do have long term concerns over chemical reaction storage systems such as the Li family

    regards Frank

  7. […] exploding above the already blistering pace of development.  Tesla’s new Powerwall energy storage device is just one […]

  8. […] as svelte as a Tesla Power Wall, but – Smart is the ultimate […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: