A Jolt of Energy

Three months after the initial announcement in February by CEO Elon Musk, Tesla Motors recently revealed the Powerwall, a line of rechargeable battery units for residential and commercial use.

The battery itself costs $3,500, or $3,000 for a less powerful version, although installation and operating costs bring the total to $7,140. Capitalizing upon the growth of solar energy and Tesla’s connections with SolarCity—a solar power company chaired by Musk that controls 39% of the residential solar market—the Powerwall is intended to address the storage issues that have hounded solar and other renewable energy sources. Additionally, the increasingly weighty additions of solar installations to existing power grids creates strong demand. California, the epicenter of the solar power boom, has set the nation’s most ambitious energy storage mandates by calling for 1.3 gigawatts of renewable energy storage by 2020. Musk, however, has set his sights higher with a characteristically visionary plan for Powerwall’s future, proclaiming during the announcement, “We are talking about trying to change the fundamental energy infrastructure of the world.” While taking entire villages and regions off the grid wholesale will take years of development, if production and sales are sufficient to achieve economies of scale, the Powerwall could introduce a major disruption to established utility companies by moving more and more people onto micro-grid infrastructures.