The video included in this Bloomberg Technology article does a nice job summarizing the new products that make up the sun-to-vehicle energy plans resulting from Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, just approved by Tesla’s shareholders last month. This is the last piece of Tesla’s puzzle, creating a complete stand-alone renewable energy solution for modern homes. A few thoughts on impacts for the Naples community:
1. A Giant Step Forward Aesthetically
For good reason, the focus of Tesla’s announcement has been on the new solar cellular tiles that look remarkably like the traditional versions of terracotta, slate, asphalt shingles as well as an interesting modern glass tile. If Tesla is able to follow through on its pricing projections and offer this product at a comparable price to traditional high-end roofing materials, with electricity as a bonus, it becomes worth considering for all our new construction. This would be a natural addition to the sophisticated electronic controls installed in many of our homes. Of course, we’ll also be watching to see if their durability claims hold up, an important consideration during hurricane season.
2. Powerful Battery Enables Backup Coverage During Power Outages
The new Tesla Powerwall 2 battery hasn’t received as much attention as the solar roof, but is nonetheless just as important an advancement. The Powerwall 2 has double the energy density of the previous version, to 14 kilowatt-hours of energy storage, a capacity much better suited to the needs of a typical American household; TreeHugger.com’s graphic of the amount of energy typically used by appliances puts that 14kWh in perspective.
The Powerwall 2 also includes a Tesla-made inverter, which allows for a more streamlined, less-expensive installation. As Electrek reports “At $5,500 including a ‘Tesla inverter’, it could easily end up being a game changer in the industry. Most residential systems today are offered for a similar price, but either have about half the energy capacity or they don’t have an integrated inverter.” They also agree that “The new Powerwall will also make a significant dent in the generator industry. It will be used in regions prone to power outages.”
We expect that the ability to replace a noisy, fossil-fuel generator with a slick, clean-energy solution for Naples’ many storm-driven power outages will be quite intriguing to many of our clients.
3. Integrated Energy System Offers New Zero Energy and Possibly Off Grid Options
Getting through the night or through a power outage is one goal, but what about those that strive to be truly energy neutral, or even off the grid? In a recent post about our Zero Energy Home prototype, we described a variety of energy, landscape, and water capture systems we could employ to reach this ZEH ideal. At first glance, Tesla’s integrated solar + storage system looks to be a promising new option. In particular, we’ll be watching to see if this system, possibly with multiple Powerwalls, can produce and store enough energy to be sufficient as a completely off the grid solution where necessary, like for those on Keewaydin Island.
If the delivered products match what’s been announced, especially in price, MJLA clients will have some nice new choices beginning in 2017.