Recently, Elon Musk announced two new products for Tesla, a stunning solar roof system that cheaply and attractively enables homes to generate their own power, and the Powerwall 2, an updated version of its battery pack to give households a power reserve that can be used without the solar tiles simply to provide backup power during outages.
People are stunned and praising it for its obvious environmental potential. Previously, many have criticized electric cars as paradoxically having a higher carbon footprint due to the heavily polluting ways we generate a lot of our electricity. Tesla has long offered charging stations with entirely solar-generated power, but until now, there was not an affordable way to enable people to do the same at home, which is ultimately where people are going to be doing a lot of their charging.
While many are praising the affordability and style of the solar tiles, the other half of the equation has an equal role to play: the battery. For years, people have pointed to the plummeting price per kilowatt-hour of generating solar power, but they were not giving enough attention to the problem of storage. Fossil fuel-based and nuclear power plants are savvy at providing a steady output of power around the clock. Solar’s output levels vary a lot, peaking in the middle of the day, producing none at night, and having mixed results in any kind of less-than-sunny weather.
This is where batteries can be their greenest: acting as a reservoir to store excess energy in peak hours to use later. Doing this in a cost-effective way that both enables minimal loss of energy and longevity of the battery is tricky. However, Tesla has taken what they have learned working on the batteries for their cars and applied it to this problem with a high degree of success.
We are watching as the concerns over practicality and cost over green technologies melt away (hopefully faster than the ice caps!) as they mature under the guidance of people like Mr. Musk. People have famously compared him to Tony Stark (without the womanizing), and it reflects the very real power these sorts of technologies have. The threats in our world that need superheroes aren’t supervillains but instead issues like the environment.
Batteries.com loves being in an industry that provides one of the important tools in the green movement. Through not only recycling, such as we discussed in our last post, Call2Recycle Your Batteries, but also utilizing batteries as a power reserve, we can help make batteries energize not only our devices but a greener future.