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Tesla battery pack may slash supply chain power costs

Posted: 16 Jul 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Tesla  supply chain  battery pack  energy storage  grid 

The hype surrounding Tesla's recent battery pack unveiling may not serve to advance energy storage technology in a remarkable way. However, the solution has the promise to eventually help to minimise supply chain power costs.

Tesla CEO Elton Musk has a blatantly obvious flair for showmanship, which he recently put to use to pitch his company's Powerwall energy storage device. As the founder of PayPal and head of Space X, which plans to do nothing less than to send humans to Mars, the charismatic serial entrepreneur recently described how Powerwall could "bridge the gap between renewable energy supply and demand."

The lithium-ion battery charges itself from electricity that solar panels generate. The energy stored in the device can be used as a power source for industrial and home applications or as a backup energy source. It can also help to reduce grid power consumption during peak electricity hours when grid power costs more. "Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup," Tesla said.

Musk's announcement reached millions of potential consumers, aided in part by Powerwall's adoption by big name firms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Target. AWS uses Tesla's battery technology to help power its data centres and to integrate electricity sourced from renewable energy sources into its operations. "Batteries are important for both data centre reliability and as enablers for the efficient application of renewable power," said James Hamilton, a distinguished engineer at AWS. "They help bridge the gap between intermittent production, from sources like wind, and the data centre's constant power demands."

Tesla's battery technology

Amazon Web Services has adopted Tesla's battery technology for renewable power storage applications. Photo Courtesy: Amazon

Tesla's battery storage units, as well as offerings that other battery suppliers provide, can also help industrial operations to reduce their peak power consumption. "Because electricity rates for factories are often based on peak levels of consumption, battery storage technologies can help to reduce peak power loads and thus reduce costs," said Matthias Vetter, head of PV off-grid solutions and battery system technology, for Germany-based Fraunhofer-Institut fur Solare Energiesysteme (Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy).

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