Time-shifting energy: Why Tesla is unveiling home and utility batteries
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
Tesla’s upcoming announcement of a home battery and a “very large-scale utility” battery represents an audacious plan to change how the world uses energy. The batteries charge overnight, when there’s excess generating capacity, for use the next day. Some home battery storage systems exist on a smaller scale from big and small companies, but as Elon Musk has already clarified, they “suck.” The success of the battery systems depends not just on technology driving down costs, but also tax credits and rebates that would be offered by utility companies. Tesla will make the announcement Thursday, April 30.
There are already several hundred homes running on Tesla battery power as well as pilot projects at businesses such as Wal-Mart. “Tesla has been able to install more than 100 projects, really without anyone noticing,” Andrea James, a Dougherty & Co. analyst, told Bloomberg.
A home storage system would likely look like a grandfather clock or skinny refrigerator – tall not wide – to facilitate placement in already crowded homes or garages. It might have stackable battery modules, and customers decide how much power they want, or add more later. Energy to charge might come from several sources: solar during the day, hydro and wind around the clock, or low-cost electric at night. At night, the lowest-cost, cleanest power plants would deliver the electricity.
On the money side, a Tesla-style home battery would work financially through energy company rebates for conservation devices. There could also be tax credits. That lowers the effective cost of the battery packs, just as credits do for high-efficiency furnaces or solar panels. They incentivize individuals and businesses to do things that make for a brighter future, if not for a cost-efficient present day. When you time-shift energy generation into costly – “costly” compared with just using more electricity at 11 cents a kilowatt hour – batteries, less power comes from fossil fuels and even less from high-emissions fossil fuels.