Tesla Debuts Powerwall At-Home Storage


April 30, 2015 | Tesla Motors

Last night, Elon Musk made a long-anticipated, yet unsurprising, announcement about Tesla’s plans to sell batteries for home energy storage. If you’ve already got solar panels on your house, for $3,000 to $3,500 (plus the cost of installation), you can essentially go off the grid with your own sleek, wall-mounted, flat screen TV-sized battery.

And the list of companies Tesla is already partnering with – like  Target, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Amazon, and utilities like Southern California Edison and Vermont’s Green Mountain Power – is perhaps just as newsworthy as the Powerwall itself.

Here’s a round-up of Inside Energy’s favorite Tesla coverage:

  • For the Washington Post, Chris Mooney puts Tesla’s announcement in context, describing three ways storage will change the way we use energy.
  • Ucilia Wang, writing for Forbes, points out that Tesla is not the only player in the energy storage game. Yet Tesla – thanks to Elon Musk’s allure – can garner attention like none of its competitors can. At the event, Wang noted, the buzz wasn’t simply about the technology:

    “Building Tesla and SpaceX has made him a rock star in the tech world, and he’s built a seemingly accessible public persona that has made fans out of many. He got on stage to talk about the growing manmade greenhouse gas emissions and the need to get away from using fossil fuels, and the audience laughed and hollered and applauded like they were hearing some incredible, never-heard-before message (were they Tesla employees and investors?).”

  • Bloomberg Business’s coverage also called out Musk’s ambition: David Gura summed it up as a chicken in every pot, a Tesla in every garage, with solar panels on every roof, powering a Tesla battery.
  • The low-price point of Tesla’s at-home battery has been garnering attention: Greentech Media’s Eric Wesoff noted that, “the audience actually whooped when Musk revealed the price.” Wesoff’s colleague Jeff St. John digs deep into the, “potential revenue-generating opportunities – and potential pitfalls in realizing them – in what’s likely Tesla’s biggest market for energy storage: California.”
  • Unless utility pricing models change, NPR’s Steve Henn suggests that at-home storage just doesn’t make financial sense:

    “There’s no financial incentive to buy power when it’s cheap and store it. There’s no financial incentive to buy a battery. Last night, Elon Musk talked about how batteries can save the world and stop global warming. But before any of that can happen, consumers are going to need an economic reason to buy one.”

For some Inside Energy background, see Dan Boyce’s story on why, without energy storage, solar panels won’t work in a blackout. And for an ironic twist, while Tesla’s namesake, Nikola Tesla,  developed AC power for George Westinghouse, Elon Musk’s Tesla batteries store DC power. Boyce and Jordan Wirfs-Brock have a lively primer on the past and future of the AC/DC debate.