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Tesla moves beyond EVs to bring power to homes

Posted: 07 May 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Tesla Motors  electric vehicle  Tesla Energy  lithium-ion batteries  electric grid 

Tesla Motors Inc. is extending its arms beyond the confines of electric vehicles to begin selling energy storage batteries for homes, businesses and utilities. Under the banner of Tesla Energy, the group's latest battery initiative is aimed the energy storage industry that is predicted to grow to $19 billion by 2017, according to market research analyst IHS CERA. According to Deutsche Bank, the move by Tesla Energy could allow it to rake in up to $4.5 billion in revenue.

The range of lithium-ion batteries, which will initially be manufactured at Tesla's factory in California, but will switch production to the company's planned battery 'Gigafactory' in Nevada when it opens in 2017, were revealed at a Tesla facility in California by the electric car maker's founder, Elon Musk.

The Gigafactory will produce cells, modules and packs for Tesla's electric vehicles and for the stationary storage market. The Gigafactory is planned to produce 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of packs per year by 2020. The Gigafactory will employ about 6,500 people by 2020.

The lithium-ion batteries, which are set to retail at $3,500 in the U.S., feature a sleek design that can be wall-mounted and store up to 10kWh of energy from wind turbines or solar panels. The batteries can store energy that can be released when sunlight is low, during grid outages, or at peak demand times.

The company initially plans to release two versions of the battery, a 7kWh one intended for people using solar power and a 10kWh version that is intended to be a substitute for the electric grid if power goes down.

The smallest 'Powerwall' will measure 1.3m x 68cm, which makes it small enough to hang inside a garage on or an outside wall. As many as eight batteries can be 'stacked' together.

Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level for load shifting, back-up power and self-consumption of solar power generation. Powerwall consists of Tesla's lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. The unit mounts seamlessly on a wall and is integrated with the local grid to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.

The battery is geared to provide a number of different benefits to the customer, including load shifting, increasing self-consumption of solar power generation, and back-up power.

The battery can provide financial savings to its owner by charging during low rate periods when demand for electricity is lower and discharging during more expensive rate periods when electricity demand is higher. In addition, it can store surplus solar energy not used at the time it is generated and use that energy later when the sun is not shining. The battery also assures power in the event of an outage.

Powerwall will increase the capacity for a household's solar consumption, while also offering backup functionality during grid outages.

Tesla plans to start shipping to installers in the U.S. during the summer of 2015.

- Paul Buckley
  EE Times Europe

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