Tesla Powerwall

Is the energy storage market getting charged up?

Tesla generated much publicity after its April introduction of the Powerwall. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it stores electricity for consumption, load shifting, and backup power. Intended for residential purposes, Tesla has partnered with SolarCity to sell the 10 kWh Powerwall systems for $5,000.

The Powerwall can store solar energy from your solar panels and act as a backup power source during a power failure. It collects cheap energy from off-peak hours and releases it during peak consumption time, flattening demand spikes and saving money. Powered by renewable energy, this battery sits on a wall and autonomously switches on. One 10 kWh Powerwall supports a refrigerator, computer, lighting, alarm systems, and electrical outlets—and an optional second Powerwall completes the household. A 7 kWh model will also be available.

SolarCity will begin installations in California this October. This efficient 220-pound device helps to integrate solar and wind power into the grid. However, the current Powerwall pricetag only makes sense for customers who want to escape the grid or value emergency power during blackouts.

Although the Powerwall has yet to reach Minnesota, many local companies have tested energy storage science. Xcel Energy developed a utility-scale battery – a 1 MW advanced dry cell lead-acid battery with a 90% round-trip efficiency. With the Smart Grid Demonstration Project, Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative (MVEC) installed 16 Silent Power battery storage appliances. These batteries shave peaks, fill valleys (the low nighttime load), and provide backup power. Backup Power Source out of Slayton, MN is now the company behind Silent Power systems and other battery storage solutions.

Tesla has certainly jolted the energy storage market in recent weeks, and it will be exciting to see where it goes from here.

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