Friday, May 01, 2015

Prepare to Convert

It could be change on the scale of the advent of Christianity only bigger and far faster. Life as you know it could be about to change and, if that happens, you can thank/blame Elon Musk for it.

If Musk's high-tech firm, Tesla, succeeds massive numbers of us will be going wholly or partially "off the grid."  Tesla yesterday unveiled what it claims will be the Yang to solar power's Yin - a powerful and affordable battery system that will leverage solar power into a 24-hour energy source.

The trade price for a 7 kWh battery pack will be a modest $3,000.  A 10 kWh pack will go for $3,500.  Best of all they're designed to be installed in under an hour.

 I so hope Elon Musk doesn't turn out to be some supervillain out for world dominance.


Purple library guy said...

It's at the nuts and bolts here that I start to lose a sense of what's going on. How much is a kWh? Like, how much electricity does a house tend to use? Do I need one of these to run a household, or a quarter of one, or five of the dang things, or what?

I guess I should just look at my electric bill and see how much juice they're billing me for.

Lorne said...

Musk's latest sounds particularly appealing to me as a resident of Ontario. With the government about to sell off 60% of the hydro utility, and with ever-rising rates (they went up again today) that will doubtlessly go up even faster under private ownership, I say more 'power' to Elon Musk.

Anyong said...

Why wouldn't one prefer to have solar panels instead of batteries?
Would like to include here.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anyong. You need solar panels AND the batteries. The inexpensive, high capacity batteries Musk's company has developed are, as I suggest, the 'yang' to solar panels 'yin.'

The biggest drawback to solar panels has been the problem of being able to store the energy they produce during daylight hours for use at night. These batteries complete the system.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ PLG - I think two would be ample for a smaller house. There are web sites that explain kWh and kW ins and outs but it's not easy to understand.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lorne. Last year I wrote about a report from the largest private bank in the world, UBS, telling institutional investors to steer clear of conventional power utilities.

The study commissioned by UBS revealed that we're on the cusp of an off-grid energy revolution. It forecast that, even in cloudy, dreary, sunlight-deficient Germany, rooftop solar used in conjunction with these Tesla batteries, would mean that homeowners would be able to buy a solar energy package good for 15-20 years that would pay for itself in just 6-years.

The kicker is that the UBS report included in that 6-year cost assessment a home system that would also include daily charging of an electric car.

The report noted that we're also looking at a similar breakthrough in electric car technology and guess who's all over that and about to open his mega-factory in the desert. You got it, Elon Musk. The report predicts these breakthroughs will bring electric car costs in line with modest, conventional compact cars.

Toby said...

Here in BC electricity from the grid is cheap. We took a serious look at solar panels including an on-site inspection and quotes. An inadequate system without batteries was quoted at over $14,000 which at current and projected rates would take us 15 years to break even on costs. I'm in my 70s. Do the math.

To compare, we can replace our gas furnace with a high efficiency one for half that.

What's with those goofy pictures needed to verify? Acchh!

The Mound of Sound said...

Well, Toby, brace yourself. Our hydro rates are scheduled go up substantially in a set of staged increases.

Meanwhile solar panel prices have plunged even as their efficiency has increased and now, with new battery technology, the circuit is closed.

In BC we're blessed with abundant hydro electricity but California is showing us the perils of taking that for granted. Especially along the coast, mountain snowpacks are taking a beating. With the collapse of snowpack in the Sierras, California is having to turn to fossil fuel power generation.

I'm not that much younger than you, Toby, so I understand your predicament. We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out but I think the switch is coming. Besides, it offers terrific options for development in off-grid areas up the coast.

Toby said...

Mound said, "Meanwhile solar panel prices have plunged . . . "

Not here they haven't. That $14,000 I posted was recent. While the panels may be cheaper the installation costs are soaring.

Steve said...

Change is comming, I was thinking aboot this as the sliver lining of hydro privatization.

Anyong said...

It is conceivable governments will want to tax battery use. Or maybe the "Sharing Economy" will find a way to circumnavigate some sort of tax for having batteries in ones house or place of employment. It is also conceivable batteries such as describe here, would not replace solar panels in countries where the sun shines 95% of time.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anyong, I don't understand where you get this idea that these batteries somehow 'replace' solar panels. They have nothing to do with replacing solar panels. They simply provide a cost-effective way to store electricity produced by solar panels for later use such as overnight. A viable means of storing solar energy has always been key to its usefulness.