Will Tesla’s home battery fundamentally change the energy market?

Tesla, best known for their electric cars, last week unveiled a home battery system called ‘Powerwall’ which they claim will 'fundamentally change the way the world uses energy'.

At a press conference in Los Angeles, Tesla’s charismatic founder Elon Musk unveiled what he described as “the missing piece” in sustainable energy: batteries that can be used in homes and businesses to store power from solar or wind or take advantage of cheap electricity overnight.

In the UK, Powerwall can be used by households with solar panels to power their homes with free electricity 24 hours a day by storing energy produced during sunlight hours. The stored energy can then be used when solar panels cannot produce energy in the evening and night time due to the sun going down.

As an example, a solar panel owner could get back from work at 6pm in the winter and still power their home's appliances with free energy from the electricity produced by the solar panels during the day whilst they have been out. The Powerwall would therefore help reduce their energy bills by even more than the 50% solar panels currently help save on average. If the owner also had an electric car they could charge it overnight for free meaning their fuelling costs would be reduced to zero.

Powerwall will also enable savvy consumers to reduce their energy bills by purchasing their electricity from the grid during the night when it is cheaper and then using it during the day as and when required.

Globally, Powerwall will give energy dependency to countries where electricity outages are common. Homes without access to the grid will have constant access to power through a combination of the battery and some form of energy source, such as solar panels.

However, with prices starting at $3,500 for the residential battery pack, the Powerwall probably won’t fundamentally change the energy market just yet. Afterall there are already similarly priced home batteries on the market which have failed to achieve widespread adoption due to their hefty price tag.

That said, battery storage systems will ultimately revolutionise the energy market as their cost plummets; solar panel technology for example has seen prices tumble by around 70% in the last five years causing a boom in solar installations.

As the world starts to end its addiction to fossil fuels, battery storage will enable renewable power to provide a constant and reliable supply of energy allowing homes and businesses to use 100% of the energy they produce themselves.

So whilst the Powerwall is unlikely to 'fundamentally change the way the world uses energy' it is certainly a step in the right direction and gives a glimpse of the future.

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