by Dion Boyd
In an interesting article posted on The Guardian on February 5, 2016, blogger Steven Morris discusses the UK’s first home installation of a Tesla Powerwall by a company based in Port Talbot called Solar Plants. The Tesla Powerwall is a wall-mounted 7kWh or 10kWh lithium-ion-battery system that works by absorbing solar energy from exterior panels and then storing that energy for later use. It was first launched in California in May of 2015 with a price tag of $3000 or $3750 depending on the battery capacity. All orders sold out within the first 10 days and Tesla is now working on fulfilling backlog orders in 2016. They are also planning to release a second version of the Powerwall in July or August. Founder Elon Musk has not specified the details of the updates but has stated that the battery cells used in the updated model will come from the Gigafactory rather than their current dispenser, Panasonic. [http://www.fastcompany.com/3056330/fast-feed/tesla-will-launch-a-new-version-of-its-powerwall-battery-this-summer] Powerwall is not the first of its kind as there are other battery systems on the market, but its sleek, slim, and simple design makes it very attractive to consumers. According Mark Kerr, the owner of the Powerwall installed in this article, “its design is very sleek and minimalistic and something you can hang on the wall like a piece of art, definitely nothing like some of the other clunky looking batteries.” [http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/05/welsh-home-installs-uks-first-tesla-powerwall-storage-battery]
As solar panels increase in demand, many families around the globe are facing a similar dilemma. Solar panels are most beneficial and most productive during the hours when the sun is high and shining, but for most families these are the hours when everyone is at work or school. The excess energy is consequently fed into the grid which allows them to earn a return but does not allow that energy to be used when the family returns home in the evening. With the installation of the Powerwall, unused energy will charge the Powerwall and can then be used in the evenings when the family is home.
I believe the implementation of energy storage devices as a part of the full solar energy package will be key for increasing solar panel demand in the future. As consumers become more educated about energy wasting challenges that people with solar panels face, many people will only purchase panels if there is a way for them to store their unused energy. Unfortunately, as this technology is somewhat new, the price may not be low enough to attract an investment from many consumers. Therefore, until the price comes down, it will be up to manufacturers and the government to educate the public about the cost saving and environmental benefits of energy storage.
The Guardian [http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/05/welsh-home-installs-uks-first-tesla-powerwall-storage-battery]
Fast Company [http://www.fastcompany.com/3056330/fast-feed/tesla-will-launch-a-new-version-of-its-powerwall-battery-this-summer]
TWEET: @Tesla having it first Powerwall installed in a home in the UK. Hope to see many more homes and businesses jump on board this year as well