Yesterday Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled Tesla Energy and the Powerwall, the poorly held secret new residential energy storage system that the company will soon offer to residents across the U.S. The lithium ion batteries will allow homeowners with solar panels to use the energy produced by their solar panels during a blackout or to help them help their electric bills where utilities have time of use charges.
The devices will be offered through numerous solar companies like SolarCity (of which Musk is the chairman), but also through Sunrun, which announced a partnership with Tesla to offer the Powerwall today (May1).
There were still some surprises, like the price. A 7 kilowatt hour Powerwall will cost $3,000 while a 10 kilowatt hour Powerwall will cost $3,500. While Tesla is a company that has a sort of following like Apple, and can demand higher prices, the Powerwall is actually already cheeper than some other solutions. Over at Mashable, Stan Schroeder observed that the $350 per kilowatt hour for the 10 kilowatt device already is much lower than the $500 per kilowatt hour price from competitors like Primus Power.
Tesla also unveiled the Powerpack, which is designed for commercial and utility-scale applications. Already Musk said that one utility has already ordered a 250 kilowatt hour system. He said that system could be scaled up to a gigawatt or more.
Still, the $3,000 entry price tag might sound like a lot but as more utilities look to time-of-use charges, such a device could be used to charge itself when energy prices are cheap—usually at night—then use that stored energy when prices are high or even sell it back to the utility when prices are higher. When coupled with a solar array the device can also store excess solar energy during the day for use during the evening or a blackout.
“You can actually go, if you want, go completely off-grid. you can take your solar panels, charge your battery packs and that’s all you use,” Musk said. “It’s designed so you can stack them…up to nine of them.”
“This is going to be a great solution for people in remote parts of the world,” Musk said. He envisioned it allowing people to leapfrog grid power in developing nations much like many developing nations have leapfrogged telephone infrastructure with cellular networks.
Musk anticipated shipping the batteries in the next three to four months. At first they will be made in Tesla’s pilot battery factory. But as soon as next year they will come from Tesla’s Gigafactory for manufacturing batteries. Lastly the company announced that the patents for both the Powerwall and the Powerpack will be open-sourced so that other companies can use the technology. That could help speed adoption while reducing costs of Tesla devices and competitors’ devices as well.Tweet