Tesla unveils battery to store solar energy

National » Solar

In recent years, the fast-growing popularity of solar panels has intensified a central challenge: how to use the sun’s energy when it isn’t shining. Now, Tesla Motors, the maker of luxury electric sedans, says it is taking a big step toward meeting that challenge with a fleet of battery systems aimed at homeowners, businesses and utilities.

To herald its ambitions in the field, the company scheduled an event on Thursday night at its design studio in Hawthorne, California, with chief executive Elon Musk presiding. He announced the firm would build batteries that store solar energy and serve as a back-up system for consumers during blackouts. The device would allow consumers to get off a power grid or bring energy to remote areas that are not on a grid. Tesla plans to start shipping the units to installers in the US by this summer.

The company’s foray into the solar storage market will include rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs that can mount to a home garage wall as well as battery blocks large enough to smooth out fluctuations in the grid. “We’ve obviously been working on building a world-class battery , a superefficient and affordable way to store energy ,” said Khobi Brooklyn, a Tesla spokeswoman. “It’s just that we’ve been putting that battery in cars most of the time.”

In a news conference before the event, Musk said the consumer battery , called the Powerwall, would sell for $3,500, and was derived from the batteries that Tesla uses in its Model S vehicles. The device, which Tesla will start producing later this year, will be installed by licenced technicians.

In Hawaii, where 12% of the homes have solar panels, handling the surplus power is putting pressure on the state’s biggest utility , which is fighting to reduce what it pays for the energy . The batteries will be connected to the internet and can be managed by Tesla from afar. Customers can connect up to nine battery packs to store larger amounts of power.

“If you have the Tesla Powerwall, if the utility goes down, you still have power,” Musk said. He added: “The whole thing is an integrated system that just works.” Energy and auto analysts have generally responded positively to Tesla’s move. “Elon thinks that there’s a long-term gain to be made not only in electric cars but also in electric energy storage -and he’s probably right,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book.”There’s a universal application for portable energy and storable energy that goes to everybody . It’s really just a matter of getting the business model together.”

Tesla’s announcement comes as energy companies are moving in the same direction. Sungevity ,a leading solar installer, announced a partnership this week with Sonnenbatterie, a smart energy storage provider in Europe, to begin offering their systems to its customers.

Source: Times Of India

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