The Global Battery Solution has Arrived!


At last the world now has a viable battery solution that is commercially viable. Last week, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Powerwall. The Powerwall is a battery that can be fitted onto a wall or for the larger commercial sector, more server looking type model. There are three main uses for batteries that we shall explore: backup power in case of a blackout, minimising the peak time use of energy, and, lastly, the ability to get off-grid completely.

Tesla is the electric car company based out of California, which has been taking much of Europe by storm. Many have been seen in London as it is exempt from the congestion charge. The argument has always been for electric cars, but they do require conventional electricity to charge them which can defeat the purpose. Nevertheless, electric car sales have rocketed year on year as their performance now matches, if not surpasses regular petrol cars.

With Powerwall, Tesla Motors has moved away from the automotive world and into our homes and businesses. The cost of the battery is starting off at $3,000 for a capacity of 7 kWh. While expensive, many say that the price is reasonable. The cost can and will go down with mass production. Musk has already thought of that, hence his plan to build a $5 billion factory that will produce the batteries, which will be lithium-ion rather than any new type of technology.

Backup power isn’t the most common requirement for the domestic market, but it is for the commercial market where outages are a high risk and very costly if and when they happen. Having batteries instead of a diesel generator is a far cleaner and quieter version for backup.

Batteries will also help increase the use of solar power for both domestic and smaller commercial use. This is due to peak demand in the morning and evening, the times when solar is not very effective. A battery will be able to harness the power of the sun during the day so that the energy can be used in the evening. This way you can maximise the use of solar panels.

Utilities will need to switch on to using batteries very quickly. Solar and wind are very intermittent and batteries will help to store the energy generated by these sources for peak demand on the grid as a whole. Furthermore, it will allow homes and businesses to deal with outages better, as well as manage supply and demand better. This innovation will truly revolutionise the market as we know it and as Musk stated, his aim “is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy.”

Emerging countries, notably African nations, could see the greatest benefit. Batteries will allow them to be off-grid, or not reliant on waiting for the grid to supply them with energy. They will leapfrog immediately from no electricity at all to 100% renewable thanks to the battery. It will allow for true energy independence and away from any political shackles or inefficiency with state-owned supply.

The battery market as a whole will see more competition, both from the conventional lithium-ion based as well as alternatives such as graphene and natural alternatives. Both of these are still firmly in the research and development stage, however.

Overall, the energy world has seen the first wave of a categorical shift. Much like the first mobile phones, it will be some years before batteries for both the domestic and commercial markets are commonplace and integral to our daily lives. They will advance when it comes to their capacity, reduce in cost, and they will allow for transition to a low carbon economy. The technology will allow once disconnected communities access to electricity and assist with economic growth and support in improving the quality of life in some locations. For businesses, the Powerwall will provide a cheaper form of electricity, allowing greater competitiveness and reducing the cost burden of energy.

Alfa Energy Group

Alfa Energy Group, an Edison Energy company, is an international energy, sustainability and technology consultant partner with 250 employees over 3 international locations. For over 25 years, Alfa has been servicing its clients’ needs through energy and water management, sustainability, and compliance consulting, and an intuitive ecosystem of user-driven energy, water, and carbon management software platforms. With coveted awards, an international industry-wide recognition, and clever simple solutions, today Alfa is partnering with clients to establish and deliver pivotal net zero strategies. Through smart energy management, the expertise and diligence of its people, transparent processes, and data management, Alfa continues to lead through its recognised gold standard of service delivery.