Tesla Launches Low-Cost Batteries for Homes

The electric car company Tesla launched late Thursday its Tesla Energy brand with an array of batteries designed for homes, businesses and utilities.

After the recent fuzz about Tesla calling for hackers to hack their cars, the company  is now building the biggest battery factory in the world. It hopes to drive battery prices down so far that lithium ion batteries are no longer just for laptops, phones or cars. The electric car company has announced its entry into the energy market by unveiling a suite of low-cost solar batteries for homes, businesses and utilities, “the missing piece”, it said, in the transition to a future that heralds a sustainable energy world.

“The obvious problem with solar power is that the sun doesn’t shine at night,” the company founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a press conference in California. “We need to store the energy to use at night.” He added “the issue with existing batteries, is they suck.”

The Powerwall

Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and founder of SpaceX, known among popular mainstream circles as the real-word Tony Stark (Iron-Man), launched the Powerwall home battery, a rechargeable 7-10 kWh lithium-ion battery, priced at $3000-$3,500. In doing so, he heralded the technology as “a fundamental transformation [in] how energy is delivered across the earth.”

“You don’t need a battery room …A normal household can mount this on their garage or the outside wall of their house and it doesn’t take up any room. It’s flat against the wall,” Musk said. “It’s designed to work with solar system out of the box.”

The smallest ‘Powerwall’ is 1.3 meters by 68 cm, small enough to be hung inside a garage indeed. Up to eight batteries can be “stacked” in a home, Musk said, to applause and fanfare from investors and journalists at the high-profile event.

A $5 billion battery factory!

Musk also added that the batteries will initially be manufactured at the electric car company’s factory in California, but will move production to its $5 billion “Gigafactory” outside of Reno, Nevada which opens in 2017. The Nevada facility will be the largest producer of lithium-ion batteries in the world, a move which is planned to help bring down costs of the batteries even further due to its mass-production scale. The massive plant will also employ 6,500 workers and is scheduled to roll out half a million lithium-ion batteries by 2020.

Elon Musk’s vision

Musk estimated that transitioning all global transportation, electricity generation and heating to renewable energy (solar energy), would require around 2 billion of his Powerpack batteries, this particular model designed for business-level usage. That’s two billion “Powerpacks”, a 100kwh battery to meet the entire world’s energy needs. “That may seem like an insane number,” he said. “But this is actually within the power of humanity to do.”

“We have done things like this before. It’s not impossible,” Musk said.

The entrepreneur, who introduced the world to PayPal by inventing the online payment system, also founded a private space company, Space X (which is now contracted to NASA) and is also experimenting with a high speed public transportation system called Hyperloop.

Tesla shares have soared more than 18 percent in the last month. Tesla is currently taking orders for the batteries, with the first units expected to be shipped in August.

You can ‘reserve’ your Powerwall battery, here.