Although wind, as well as solar power have made incredible advances recently, with renweable sources now accounting for 22% of electric energy generated, brevity remains to be the main concern holding them back. “How can we use solar energy at night if the sun doesn’t shine? How can we use wind power if the wind doesn’t blow year-round?” Those opposed to the progress of renewable sources of energy often ask these exact questions.
Now the renewable energy billionaire Elon Musk has completely blown away that last remaining defense. Last Thursday in California he introduced the world to his streamlined revolutionary Powerwall – a wall-mounted energy storage device which is capable of holding 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and even deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, for approximately US$3,500.
That results in having an electricity cost (taking into consideration installation expenses and inverters) of around US$500 per kWh – lower than 50% current electricity costs, as approximated by Deutsche Bank.
That translates into produced energy at around 6 cents per kWh for the householder, which means that a residential system along with storage would likely still come up ahead of coal-fired energy delivered by means of the conventional grid.
Additionally, Musk will be manufacturing the batteries in the United States, at the “gigafactory” he is constructing just over the border from California in Nevada.
He’s not waiting on some kind of groundbreaking new technology, but is scaling up the surefire lithium-ion battery that he is presently working with on his electric vehicles.
Not Only For Homes
That being said, the fossil fuel corporations – from fuel supplier distributors like coal miners, to coal-burning electric power utilities – will undoubtedly be on the defensive, combating the new standard of more affordable renewable supplies and reserve.
Rather than wondering “Can we have our own energy system?” people are going to be wanting to know “Why can’t we have it?”
The Tesla Energy program unveiled last week is comprehensive, with worldwide ramifications. The Powerwall system which offers 10 kWh is aimed at domestic consumers. It is complemented by an industrial system referred to as the Powerpack providing 100 kWh storage, along with a stack of 100 such units to form a 10 megawatt hour storage unit, which can be used at the range of small electricity grids.
Entire communities could possibly create micro-grid power supply systems around this kind of a 10 MWh energy storage system, fed by renewable power generation (wind power or rooftop solar power), at prices that clearly have become very competitive.
Last week at his launch, Musk maintained that the complete electric power grid of the United States could very well be replicated with only 160 million of these utility-scale energy storage units. Moreover, two billion of the utility-scale models would be able to provide storage of 20 trillion kWh – electric power for the world.
The Revolution Begins
It truly is revealing to understand these statistics in context. There are around 2 billion cars, trucks and commercial vehicles on the world’s roadways, in addition to almost 100 million new vehicles which are being added annually.
If it’s possible to create these exhaust-pumping complicated machines, it’s surely possible to create the storage units which can help make those machines unnecessary. Furthermore, Elon Musk has just affirmed that he plans to do just that.
Musk is a Henry Ford-style innovator who takes others’ advancements then scales them up, taking the spectacular entrepreneurial leaps that other individuals are only capable of dreaming about. Suddenly the realm of renewable energy has become the new standard – due to the fact that when coupled with cost-efficient storage it becomes unbeatable.
Musk most definitely is not without help. Already China appears is gearing up to be the world’s renewable energy superpower, with the most extensive applied base of wind power, and undoubtedly the world’s largest production operation for wind turbines and solar photovoltaic cells. Presumably by this year China will have the world’s largest established base of solar photovoltaic ( PV ) power.
There are currently Chinese businesses and organizations, such as BYD, generating their own energy storage units based on lithium ion technology for both residential as well as industrial application – while significantly less streamlined nor as affordable as the new Tesla contribution.
However, allow them to have time and they will likely be manufacturing at a relative scale and cost, or possibly enhancing it. This really is capitalist competition – and its propagation is what specifically has made Tesla’s announcement the commencement of the genuine renewables movement.
No Going Back
Have you considered Australia and the distressing circumstances where the Abbott government realizes nothing beyond coal exports, and therefore does everything possible to prohibit the conversion to renewables? Tesla’s announcement has just moved the earth beneath their feet.
No longer may someone in Australia argue that renewables would be “nice” if only they had storage. Presently, they do.
A wise government in Australia would definitely be seeking to ride this wave and advocate Australian renewable solutions as a method of obtaining prosperity for the country in a post-fossil fuel age.
Then we could proceed beyond the futile debates in Australia over whether to have a carbon tax or not, and shift to the more immediate and sensible subject of advocating renewable industry and technology.
China has supplied the planet with a major lesson in the business-like means it went about creating and endorsing its renewable power enterprises, importing scientific knowledge from around the globe (including enhancing it too) not to mention scaling up output in order to decrease costs.
Now Musk with his Tesla Energy has just taken that progression one fundamental step further, to incorporate storage together with renewable power generation. There is no going back from here.