Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s latest endeavours in Tesla energy, focused on the transformation towards sustainable power generation. According to Musk, there is an urgent and pending need for a fundamental change in the ways in which power in the world is generated, considering the staggering growth in CO2 emissions in the atmosphere every year. Collective solutions are required to tackle these global problems, given that the current alternatives, relying on coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro wind and solar power are not enough.
Thus, Musk classified his take on the obvious solutions and accompanying problems in two parts, namely solar power generation and batteries for stationary storage.
Part 1: The Sun
Discussing the opportunities with solar power, Musk also reflected on the basic principles of the Sun’s essence.
We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky. You don’t have to do anything, it just works. Shows up every day, produces ridiculous amounts of power.
He also stated that many people do not have a clear perspective of the amount of power required to completely get off fossil fuels. Most people are ignorant of the size of space required to install solar panels, while some believe that they should be installed in space. The truth of the matter is that very little space is needed for solar panels that would lead the transition from fossil fuels to zero carbon electricity generation in the US.
Musk identified one obvious problem related to solar power generation, stemming from the fluctuation of power generation during the day. As the sun does not shine at night, the varying energy generated during the day needs to be saved and stored for later use. In order to tackle this serious disadvantage of solar power, Tesla designed the missing piece of the proper transition to a sustainable world.
Part 2: Batteries
Tesla’s complete solution to the energy equation is manufacturing of complementary batteries that can store electricity generated from solar panels. Although batteries are non revolutionary and have been produced by other companies, Tesla identified several problems with the existing storage systems.
Current batteries are expensive, unreliable and unattractive, have poor integration and lifetime, are not efficient and scalable. Tesla’s approach solves all of the aforementioned, with much more elegant and beautiful products.
The Tesla Powerwall is the storage system designed for households and smaller commercial applications. The Powerwalls are designed in different colours and can be placed on walls, resembling an artistic sculpture. They do not require a battery room and can be placed in the garage or the outside wall of a normal house. The integrated safety systems are designed to work well with solar systems, enabling piece of mind when there is a blackout, or cut in utilities.
In addition, the Powerwall is an efficient solution for people in remote parts of the world with lack of electricity wires or expensive access to the grid. At an affordable price of $35,000, the Powerwall that stores energy from solar panels is a powerful solution for independence from the grid. Production of the Powerwall is already running in the Freemont factory, and will be later expanded in the Nevada Gigafactory.
The initial orders for the product can be placed on Tesla’s website, available for shipment in 4 months.
Tesla also designed a product for larger facilities such as buildings and factories, or even small cities, that can scale infinitely. Demonstrating the power of the Powerpack, Musk presented the power meter of the hosting venue, powered by batteries, previously charged on the roof of the building.
Moreover, Musk also quantified the requirements for a holistic worldwide transition to sustainable energy. The US transition to renewable energy would require 160 million Powerpacks generating 16,000 GWh, while the world would need 900 million, producing solar energy of 90,000 GWh.
All transport, electricity and heating would require 2 billion Powerpacks, generating 200,000 GWh, suitable for the number of existing and new cars and trucks on the road each year.
The first batches of Powerpacks will be produced exclusively in the Gigafactory 1, with the expectation to construct new factories going forward.