Tesla Powerwall: Musk's big energy bet - TechCentral

Tesla Powerwall: Musk’s big energy bet

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

South African-born technology entrepreneur Elon Musk announced on Thursday night the development of a new battery system, the Tesla Powerwall, to store solar energy for later use, addressing a key obstacle to wider use of renewable energy sources.

“The obvious problem with solar power is that the sun does not shine at night,” he said at a presentation at the Los Angeles-area design studio of his electric car company, Tesla Motors.

That means energy grids using solar power still need backup sources of electricity, in the US often generated by power plants burning coal or natural gas.

The batteries to be produced by the new company, Tesla Energy, are “the missing piece” to wider reliance on solar power, he said, storing energy generated when the sun shines for use when it doesn’t.

Tesla Energy will produce batteries for residential use, and scalable battery systems with capacity up to 1GWh that “can power a small city” like Boulder, Colorado, he said.

The Tesla Power Wall, stackable batteries for residential use, each with a capacity of 10kWh, will sell for US$3 500 each and begin shipping in three to four months, he said.

In 2012, the average US household used about 11 380kWh of electricity per year. German households averaged 3 413kWh per year.

In a 2013 report, the US department of energy said storage “can ‘smooth’ the delivery of power generated from wind and solar technologies, in effect, increasing the value of renewable power”.

Electricity storage is “the thing that’s needed to have a proper transition to a sustainable energy world”, Musk said.

Musk runs the US’s second-largest manufacturer of solar cells, Solar City, as well as the electric car pioneer Tesla Motors and space transport producer SpaceX.  — DPA/News24


  1. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>The Tesla Power Wall, stackable batteries for residential use, each with a capacity of 10kWh, will sell for US$3 500 each and begin shipping in three to four months, he said.

    Eish… still a bit of a steep price tag for now; but if those guys at Eskom could give a decent enough incentive rebate scheme then it can be something worth considering.

  2. Not really steep. Advanced battery cells for solar power cost about R2850 per battery and for 10kwh, you’ll need about 10 which adds up to almost the same price.

    Cheaper more conventional 102amp inverter batteries from First National Battery , one of S.A’s larger distributors, cost from R1500 pet battery. Need ten of them.

    Space to host the batteries, 5 year life span and maintenance is the downside. Powerwall requires much less space, and it’s lithium ion technology makes it maintenance free for at least 15 years.

    The price will naturally come down as they sell more volume and as the Chinese start copying cheaper versions.

    This is a good start. I’ll surely be buying a couple. Can stack max up to 9.

  3. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    A Merc is not really steep for some… and it is definitely a good start, however the impact of the few like yourself that will buy isn’t going to go too far towards relieving the grid but if there’s an incentive scheme from the likes of Eskom then the numbers that would buy can be pushed up.

  4. If alternate power can be regulated like solar geysers are ( well, sort of ) , then Eskom would consider providing a subsidy or rebate on it. However, these systems are customized to users request and complex installations. Somehow, I don’t think Eskom will offer anything. Besides, why should they motivate you to go off grid and lose you as a client?

    Buyers of this option may be few wealthy residences and commercial entities but they sure do use up more (no research,purely according to my opinion)power combined than the masses.

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