Associate Editor Mimi Reichenbach
February 13, 2015
Tesla, Tesla, Tesla. For electric vehicle news, Elon Musk has been hogging the media. The model S Performance has a range of 253 miles, can go from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds, and can be supercharged to provide a range of 170 miles within 30 minutes. The model X can seat seven and has falcon wing doors. Not to mention Tesla’s battery swap, currently under pilot in California—its technology allows for a Model S battery to be removed and a fully charged battery to be inserted within 90 seconds. But Tesla is transitioning yet again. From the road into your home, Elon Musk is planning to unveil a Tesla home battery soon.
It makes sense that Tesla, one of the most advanced producers of batteries, will harness energy storage technology for uses beyond driving. Tesla’s net-zero gigafactory, set for completion in 2020, will increase worldwide lithium-cell production enough to decrease battery costs by more than 30%. With such mass production power, the ability to apply batteries to previously ignored sectors will increase tremendously.
There are a lot of questions about the new home-battery: Will it serve as a backup generator, storage for excess electricity generated from a home solar unit, or a way to transfer energy from personal electric vehicles to homes? (In that case, some lucky employees who have free charging at work may have their workplace paying indirectly for home energy use.) Many websites, such as The Verge, are speculating that the Tesla battery will be similar to the Toyota Mirai—a hydrogen fuel-cell-powered car with a removable battery that can be used to power homes.
Whatever the intended use is, there is no doubt that with Tesla’s gigafactory scale there will be a battery revolution. Many battery storage startups have come before Tesla, such as Stem (a startup that just closed a US$27 million series B round in January and is currently installing 100 megawatts of battery storage), Coda Energy, and Green Charge Networks. While all are making strides toward battery storage, Tesla’s gigafactory and its recent mention of a home battery has the potential to leap and bound into homes across the U.S.