Tesla’s next big product: Home energy-storage batteries?

Tesla Motors will unveil a new product line next month, co-founder and CEO Elon Musk announced Monday, and it won’t be a car. Tesla shares surged around 3 percent within the first hour after Musk’s tweet:

So what’s that mean? Since it’s Elon Musk, the possibilities are nearly endless — solar-powered remote-control rockets? Hyperloop for your home? —  but most likely it will be the not-quite-as-sexy field of home energy-storage batteries.

During Tesla’s quarterly earnings report last month, Musk alluded to just such an product:

“We’re going to unveil the Tesla home battery [indiscernible] consumer battery that will be for use in and [sic] people’s houses or businesses, fairly soon. We have the design done and it should start going into production probably about six months or so.

“We probably got a date to have sort of product unveiling, it’s probably in the next month or two. It’s really great. I’m really excited about it.”

Tesla-made lithium-ion batteries — using the same technology that powers its Model S electric cars and likely to eventually be built at the Nevada gigafactory — would store excess energy accumulated during the day from solar panels for use at night, when the panels would be idle. Such a system would reduce or even eliminate homes’ and businesses’ reliance on utility companies.

Tesla already supplies San Mateo-based SolarCity — of which Musk is chairman — with such batteries.

While such energy-efficient technology could allow many homes to essentially provide their own electricity, Bloomberg News reports that the power companies themselves could be major beneficiaries, allowing them to store excess clean energy and better manage the power grid.

Energy storage is seen by some as the next big thing in Silicon Valley, as the growth in population and energy usage forces sustainable, eco-friendly solutions.

“We have to get to a 100 percent renewable grid, and storage becomes an absolute imperative to get there,” Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel said at an industry event in 2014.

Tesla is not alone in the battery-storage market. San Jose solar-panel manufacturer SunPower plans to start offering home batteries, CEO Tom Werner told the Merc last year, as are a handful of Silicon Valley startups.

Meanwhile, in car-based Tesla news, Musk over the weekend vowed to revamp his company’s sales strategy in China, where Model S sales have been softer than expected. Bloomberg News reported Tesla is rapidly expanding its charger network in China, as well as adding more luxury features to the cars and retraining its sales force.

 

At top: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, center, with CTO JB Straubel, left, and Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen at their factory in Fremont in 2012. (Patrick Tehan/Staff)

 

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  • Dickster

    Announce anything to keep those pesky critics from asking about RANGE ANXIETY

  • sociopathic

    A home battery? Wow… We have these things called generators which convert one sort of fuel (oil, gas, etc.) to electricity to ship over wires to homes. This happens when it’s hot, when it’s cold and everything in between.

    In essence, a battery hosted at a central location, not distributed. The electricity is generated and released on demand.

    And this is bad?

    But putting thousands of pounds of highly reactive substances into each and every home, along with the thousands in wiring and permits … a good thing?

  • Captain America

    A couple of questions come to mind. 1) Why would anyone pay and give up home space for a home battery to help out the power company with their load balancing? and 2) with limited space, where would you put such a thing?

  • Bryan

    I don’t believe the future of solar and wind storage is in expensive Li-ion technology. Instead, I believe that Aquion Energy’s new, lower cost salt water battery will be the future with it much safer, long lived chemistry,

  • Neil Maguire

    JuiceBox Energy released their new 8.6 kWh system today – check it out. http://www.prweb.com/releases/EnergyStorageSystem/JuiceBoxEnergy/prweb12646856.htm

  • John Sloan

    Store up extra power as hot and cold water. Or just put all the extra power into air conditioner in the summer and heat in the winter.

 
 
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