Last Thursday in a warehouse outside Los Angeles, Elon Musk, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity, unveiled a "home battery" called the Tesla Powerwall that he claims could alter the energy infrastructure of the whole world, turn back CO2 emissions and take us all off the grid.
Watch the presentation.
"The issue with existing batteries is that they suck," Musk said at the event. "They're really horrible. They're expensive, they're unreliable."
According to Musk, the sleekly designed Tesla Powerwall will change all that. It stores up to 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power from solar panels and mounts on the wall to save space. (The Powerwall is approximately 6 inches thick, 4 feet tall and 3 feet across and weighs 220 pounds.) Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes with greater energy need, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery.
You can order one now, on reserve. Musk plans to be shipping the Powerwall in 3-4 months (August to September timeframe). The cost? Just $3,500 for the 10-kWh model. The teslaenergy.com website also lists a 7-kWh model for $3,000.
But the Powerwall was just part of the presentation. Since the technology that goes into the Powerwall is infinitely scalable, says Musk, it can support gigawatt (GW)-class installations. In fact, as Musk demonstrated the entire warehouse building where the presentation was held was powered by what he referred to a larger version of the Powerwall, call the Powerpac.
A 1-GWh Powerpac could power a small city. 160 million Powerpacs could transition the United States to clean energy. 900 million of them could power the world with sustainable energy.
Is it possible? Musk thinks so. He seems to feel strongly that not only is it possible, it is something that can, should and must be done.