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Fossil fuels approaching extinction with new Tesla battery

By: Pauline Yao, IndustrySearch reporter
14 August, 2015

Wind and solar power is most definitely on the rise, with it currently comprising 22 per cent of generated electric energy. And with the introduction of Tesla’s Powerwall by renewable power billionaire Elon Musk, those opposed to renewable energy advancement may have to swallow their pride.

Powerwall is essentially a storage unit that's capable of holding 10 kWh, and with a price of $3,500 it can function at two kilowatts. Deutsche Bank estimates that this is less than 50 per cent of the current electricity price of $500 per kWh.

What does this translate to? Energy that is delivered at about six cents per kWh for the average householder, which means that at its most basic level, it would still be cheaper than the coal-fired power that currently sustains us through the grid.

Musk is really clever; he's not delving into unchartered technological territory, what he's doing is working on the technology of the lithium-ion batteries already used in his electric vehicles, and just making it better.

 

Beyond the humble home

The domestic Powerwall system offers 10kWh while its commercial counterpart has 10 kWh with 100 stacks that are capable of forming a 10 megawatt hour storage unit. The costs are extremely competitive and entire communities stand to benefit from them.

Musk has even stated that 160 million of these storage units would be sufficient for maintaining America's entire electric power grid, while two billion of them could provide electric power to the world.

With all the positives, one can expect opposition from fossil fuel companies, who will not be encouraging of the offer of cheaper renewable energy supplies and storage. However, the Tesla Energy system is all-encompassing, consumers and communities will no doubt want it, and its impact is expected to be felt worldwide.

When will this really kick off?

There are billions of vehicles on roads around the world, and millions being added to the pool on an annual basis. If annually we manufacture millions of exhaust-emitting vehicles, then it’s certainly possible to manufacture storage units that strive to make them redundant. And Elon Musk intends to do just that.

Musk isn't in this global revolution alone. China is a formidable player in the renewable energy landscape and it's currently the home of the world's largest installed base of wind power.

Several Chinese companies are already deep in the business of independent energy production, producing storage units utilising lithium-ion technology on both a commercial and domestic level.

Currently their systems are more expensive than Tesla, but it's only a matter of time before their system is improved and made more cost-effective in the process. This is where the revolution will really kick off.

Where does Australia fit into the picture?

At this point, Australia and its lobbyists can't use the argument that renewable energy would be an option only if storage was a part of the picture because now it is. Many would argue that the country loses out every second that goes by that it doesn't ride the wave of this renewable energy and this groundbreaking technological advancement.

There's clearly much to learn from China; it has imported technology from its international neighbours and wasted no time in improving it to their advantage. In the process production levels have spiked, while costs have simultaneously lowered.

Musk and Tesla Energy have just changed the game and there's nowhere to go but up from here.

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Graeme | Monday, August 17, 2015, 1:49 AM
Whilst I welcome the idea of cheap batteries to store energy from solar/wind these still do not sound cheap. Half of $500 per KWH! I would also love to see who gets 1 KWH for 6 cents that is not the average at all and it makes $250 per KWH look ridiculous. How on earth is that cheaper than coal fired??? They do need to keep up the good work and get solar/wind with battery or other storage DOWN to the same cost as coal.
Peter Cohen | Monday, August 17, 2015, 5:30 AM
We seem to ignore wave power as a renewable source power. Yet Carnegie Energy, an Australian company is the clear world leader in this technology. Wave power is already being injected into the WA electricity grid. And the CETO system which does this has weathered large storms. Why don't we shout out our successes instead of (wrongly) bitching that we are doing nothing. The reliability of waves means we would not need these batteries except for our (wave powered) cars.
Pedro | Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 3:12 AM
Six cents per kWh is about what a household might get back for electricity exported to the grid but 26 cents per kWh is closer to what consumers are paying How does $250 perkWh compare to that!!?? Although wave power might be a good alternative, waves like all weather are too variable. Tide power on the other hand is constant (apart from 20 minutes "slack water" each tide).
Geoff Moran | Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 4:38 AM
Re the battery storage being cheap. It is not when you sit down and work out your usage in a normal home. Too equal the storage capacity of my lead acid battery bank I need a dozen of the Tesla batteries and that is not cheap. I can have about 10 sets of my batteries to one bank of Tesla batteries. Power in the United states varies from 5 cents a kilowatt hour to 12 cents a kilowatt hour which is a long way under Australian costs. WHY???
angela | Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 9:22 AM
The only drawback of stand alone solar power systems, are the cost of the batteries, and their short lifespan. Good cheap battery storage, well done! I hope to see the end of the grid, in my lifetime, for householders, and eventually for industry also........