The savior of solar is what some are calling Tesla’s new home battery. Others say it’s just a start.
Nevertheless, builders seem to be sold on the Powerwall, which stores electricity generated from solar panels to serve as a backup system during blackouts and run critical home appliances.
The battery sold out in just the six days it was offered.
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his factories will be busy through the middle of next year with orders for 38,000 home batteries and 2,500 utility-scale batteries.
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Musk, the billionaire renowned for pursuing far-out projects, is the man behind the battery. Colonizing Mars is one of his goals at Space X, a rocket maker that he also runs. The Powerwall is yet another of his ambitious missions.
Although Tesla will make the Powerwall, it will be sold by a variety of other companies including SolarCity, a solar installer founded by Musk’s cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive. Musk is SolarCity’s chairman and largest shareholder.
The system will cost $3,000 to $3,500, which could discourage widespread adoption, especially for a product that may only have limited use.
“I don’t believe this product in its first incarnation will be interesting to the average person,” says Peter Rive of SolarCity.
He does still expect there to be enough demand to substantially increase the number of batteries in homes.
Musk is so encouraged by the battery’s initial demand that he believes Tesla and other future entrants in the market will be able to sell 2 billion battery packs around the world — roughly the same number of vehicles already on roads.
Tesla hopes to begin shipping a limited number of Powerwall batteries this summer in the U.S. before expanding internationally next year.
The long-term goal is to reduce the world’s reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels while creating regional networks of home batteries that could be controlled as if they were a power plant. That would give utilities another way to ensure that they can provide power at times of peak demand.