Tesla’s Worst Kept Secret Is Out: It’s Making Solar-Based Batteries For Homes, Businesses

Tesla unveiled its new battery products Thursday night, including the residential Powerwall.

Tesla unveiled its new battery products Thursday night, including the residential Powerwall.

For months Tesla CEO Elon Musk has subtly (and not so subtly) hinted that the company’s next big foray wouldn’t be another car, but a battery system aimed at homeowners, businesses and utilities. On Thursday night, he finally made the announcement most of us saw coming.

The New York Times reports that Tesla’s next big move will be in the solar storage market with two distinct battery products: the Powerwall home battery and the business system Powerpack.

As Consumerist previously reported, the new batteries can be used with things like solar panels to collect and distribute electricity as needed, especially in developing parts of the world or in areas where it’s impractical to run electrical wiring or operate a gas-powered generator.

Both of the battery systems, which will be connected to the Internet and can be managed by Tesla remotely, will allow customers to connect up to nine battery packs to store larger amounts of power over time.

The slim paneled Powerwall, which will run about $3,500 and must be installed by a licensed technician, stands roughly four feet by three feet and uses much of the same lithium-ion battery technology that Tesla puts in its electric vehicles.

The device – most likely to be mounted in garages – allows solar panel customers to store energy in order to have power in the event of a failure, or when utility rates are high.

“If you have the Tesla Powerwall, if the utility goes down, you still have power,” Musk said. “The whole thing is an integrated system that just works.”

As for the business system, Powerpack, it’s already being tested in pilot programs with several companies, including 11 Walmart stores in California.

The tests are in conjunction with Tesla’s sister company SolarCity, which already provides residential energy-storage units for about 300 customers.

The system, which is expected to sell for $250 per kilowatt-hour of storage capacity, is designed to help businesses lower the demand for electricity from their solar grids, which Musk says in turn can lower costs.

Walmart isn’t the only big company gearing up for more Tesla-powered batteries: The NYT reports that Amazon Web Services is set to begin the pilot program soon to assist in achieving its goal to derive all of its energy from renewable sources.

“Batteries are important for both data center reliability and as enablers for the efficient application of renewable power,” James Hamilton, an engineer at Amazon Web Services, told the Times through a spokeswoman. “They help bridge the gap between intermittent production, from sources like wind, and the data center’s constant power demands.”

Powerwall is expected to be marketed by a new division called Tesla Energy, with deliveries set to begin later this summer, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“We are talking about trying to change the fundamental energy infrastructure of the world,” Musk said at the conference.

Tesla expands from electric cars to energy storage for businesses, homes [The Los Angeles Times]
Tesla Ventures Into Solar Power Storage for Home and Business [The New York Times]

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