Utility companies are bracing themselves for the next big thing from Tesla Motors, a lithium-ion battery that can store unused energy in the home, the next step towards divestment from dirty fossil fuels and something that may help clean energy distributors gain a foothold.
The technology is similar to what powers Tesla’s cars, but the Tesla battery will be built so that consumers can store unused energy in a lithium-ion battery and not need to rely on the grid when solar or wind power isn’t at its peak.
These batteries have the potential to revolutionize the way clean energy is stored and stakeholders in the industry are holding their breath as the batteries head toward production lines. There are already some energy storage batteries out there, which are used by companies like Wal-Mart and BJs Wholesale to offset low energy discharges that cause utility prices to spike.
Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of Tesla, made the announcement during the company’s earnings call on Feb. 12 saying the designs are finished and production can start in about six months.
“We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon,” Bloomberg quoted Musk as saying.
Musk is also the chairman of SolarCity Corp., a company that produces solar panels and solar energy products.
Lithium-ion batteries, the kind that Tesla is looking to manufacture for home energy storage, are lighter than conventional batteries and hold a charge for a longer amount of time. The environmental impact of mining materials for these types of batteries does not involve strip mining or blowing up mountains, but merely pumping the material from the bottoms of briny underground pools and letting it dry in the sun.
These batteries are the kind used in electric cars, and Tesla recycles the cooling liquid, wires and electronics for use again, while remaining parts are crushed, melted and used to make parts again.
“The long-term demand for stationary energy storage is extraordinary,” JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, said. “We’ve put in a huge amount of effort there.”
Tesla Motors has a location in Brentwood’s Westgate Commons at 1641 Westgate Circle.