Will Tesla’s Powerwall shake up the solar energy industry?


The Elon Musk-led electric car company, Tesla, made an interesting announcement earlier this week, and it has nothing to do with cars. Instead, Musk gloated over his company’s novel rechargeable lithium-ion battery, to be used in conjunction with solar energy, that will soon be available for home purchase and installation. It’s called the Powerwall.

solar energy tesla power

Individually purchased Powerwall units can be stacked for increased energy storage.

Current solar installations require grid connectivity, and although consumers can sell excess solar energy to power companies during the day, at night they have to buy the energy back. Opting for an affordable battery storage system at home effectively eliminates that requirement, potentially opening up the technology to a greater number of people.

It’s also great for Musk, who has a personal stake in SolarCity, a company which handles solar installations.

Are Tesla’s Powerwall batteries actually affordable?

Although the Powerwall battery storage units met with much fanfare, there are those who assume the worst. It’s not that surprising. After all, most people still have no idea or outright don’t believe we’re transforming into a clean-energy society. Even the people who do are hesitant to applaud new technological developments which aren’t yet proven.

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The Powerwall provides energy when it’s needed most.

The naysayers propose the price is simply too high to make the Powerwall batteries cost-effective. The batteries are priced in two categories: the 7 kwh capacity at $3,000 and the 10 kwh capacity at $3,500. The 10 kwh will provide an average 1,000 watts of current over 10 hours, while most American homes drain about 1,200 watts at any given moment.

For example, most larger appliances or electronic devices use 100 or more watts of current while in use. Now consider the amount of current your computer, your TV, your fridge and everything else plugged into a socket. consume. When you add it all up, it’s staggering to say the least.

The argument against might therefore have merit. Generating energy costs money. The batteries themselves cost money. Then you have installation and storage costs on top of that. You could end up paying a hell of a lot more for solar than you ever would for typical utilities.

Then again, maybe not.

Why solar energy and devices like the Powerwall are the future

The price of solar panels has plummeted 75% over the last five years and shows no sign of stopping. Solar energy industry analysts often point out that advancements in solar technology tend to follow a similar path to the well-known Moore’s Law, which dictates how often the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles.

If the trend continues, we’ll have more solar energy than we could ever use by the year 2030. That probably makes any argument against the Powerwall battery moot.

Either way, it seems that Tesla owes consumers a much more detailed analysis of economical benefits if the company is to win people over with a potentially game-changing solar storage solution. Let us know how much you trust the Tesla Powerwall battery. Will it lead to an early solar revolution or is it yet another plaything for the rich?

Watch the official unveiling of Tesla’s Powerwall:

About Author

Jeff is a self-proclaimed pragmatic futurist; that is, he has high hopes for absurd life-altering technologies which sound too good to be true, and probably are. Although he writes on a variety of subjects, his real passion is for technological innovation and the people who make it happen. By day, he enjoys fuzzy bunnies, kittens, puppies, roller coasters and a sardonic written word or two. By night, he's busy running memyselfandrobot.com, replaying a random Final Fantasy game, or pretending to be Batman. He currently resides in Upstate NY.