Is Tesla making storage cool?

Tesla gathered $800 million worth of reservations in one week for its new product. Maybe Elon Musk's approach will finally make these old ideas stick...

Imagine this…your retired mother–who knows that your job involves something with buildings–calls you to talk about Tesla’s new battery product. Is there any clearer sign that Tesla is finally making energy storage cool?

Tesla Energy

Elon Musk, CEO at Tesla Motors and SpaceX and Chairman at SolarCity, has done a tremendous job bringing attention to this inspiring idea: connect the sun as our “fusion reactor in they sky” with batteries (to store the energy from the day for use at night, dawn, and dusk) and electric vehicles. He also believes batteries and solar panels can replace fossil fuel power plants and utility power lines, much like mobile phones surged ahead of telephone lines in the developing world. Elon’s Tesla Powerwall product launch video lays out this vision in some detail.

Battery storage is not new. And neither are electric cars. In fact, as pictured above, Thomas Edison worked hard to popularize electric vehicles in 1910. But our point is not to agitate the age old debate on Edison v. Tesla; plenty of more passionate, and humorous champions have covered that ground already. Neither is Elon arguing that these ideas are new. But could Tesla’s approach–uniting a single-source solution, scalable componentry, open-sourced patent policy, and gigafactory-as-another-product–actually crack the code to the energy storage market? did the math and it looks like Tesla pulled in $800 million of reservations for both the residential Powerwall and commercial/utility scale Powerpack products in their first week tadalafil 100mg best price.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges.

For commercial and industrial customers, the first is that the underlying chemistry powering lithium-ion battery technology is generally split into two camps. One chemistry is good for storing energy over the long term, such as in an electric vehicle. The other chemistry is good for releasing power quickly, such as in a power drill. But what’s really needed for an effective peak load curtailment application is a battery that stores plenty of energy but also discharges it quickly enough to respond to peaking energy demands within a building. And hitting the right balance is difficult.

Additionally, there are issues around the economics involving input costs, cycle life, changing utility tariffs, net-metering, and tax credits. Jeff St. John at Greentech Media has written a thorough piece explaining these challenges. Futhermore, there are issues around the mining of lithium, including production levels in Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, which is the world’s largest salt flat and is believed to contain 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves.

If you’re concerned about how peak demand charges will impact your operating expenses this summer–and the higher summer season rates have already kicked in for PG&E and will start in June for SCE and LADWP–the best place to start doesn’t actually require any hardware for your mechanical room. We’ve written before about the history of demand charges and ways to avoid them. If fact, predicting the days when your building is likely to set its peak demand charge for the billing period is a main focus of our Snapmeter tool. And one of our happiest Snapmeter customers has an energy storage device in the basement of his building. Another Snapmeter customer is still waiting for their devices to get installed…

If you’re considering energy storage, we suggest unleashing a free-trial of Snapmeter on your building’s interval data to take advantage of our machine learning algorithms, big data analytics platform, and the cheapest battery of them all- tweaks, on the right days and at the right times, to equipment scheduling and deadbands. After all, we could be connected to your online utility account and be delivering demand prediction alerts long before the first mounting bracket is in place.

About Millen Paschich

Millen began his career at Cambridge Associates, trained in finance at SMU, and has an MBA from UCLA. Talk to him about bicycling, business, and green chile burritos.

2 replies on “Is Tesla making storage cool?”

  1. George Lesko says:

    Great article. Ever better picture!

Comments are closed.

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