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Tesla’s Powerwall has huge potential — and not just for solar panels — Updated

This new energy storage device has the potential to produce greener homes or help with your bills while you're still on the grid.

Solar-generated power through satellites, lasers and space are potentially too futuristic to be imminently realistic, but is there a more viable solution for today?

Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s latest idea, from Tesla Energy, is a more modest and down to earth approach for a greener planet.

An improvement on current batteries

Powerwall is a large lithium-ion battery capable of storing energy you direct into it, whether from solar panels, or from the grid.

It mounts on the wall of your home, inside or out, and is aesthetically superior to other energy storage batteries to date.

It comes in two size configurations for the home: a 10 kWh capacity battery (for weekly cycles — ideal as a backup power source), and a 7 kWh version (for daily cycles — to store and deplete daily when energy is needed), with starting costs at £1,981.

The batteries are stackable for an increased storage space of up to 90kWh.

Musk has been able to boast 38,000 orders for Powerwall already, despite only unveiling the product a week ago.

From this initial introduction to Powerwall, Ann Robinson, uSwitch Director of Consumer Policy, sees scope for this type of home battery:

“I think this is a great development that could offer huge potential for reducing our electricity bills in the future.

“To make this work now you need to have solar panels, but with all of us getting smart meters before 2020 we should all be able to benefit from cheap off peak tariffs which should become available over the next few years.”

The perfect complement to solar panels

A major issue with domestic solar energy is it can’t guarantee power whenever you need it, as productivity varies throughout the day depending on the sun.

This in turn forces households to remain reliant on the grid to a larger extent than may be necessary.

If you currently have solar panels installed, Powerwall could provide a means of storing any excess electricity generated for when you need it most.

For those who don’t generate any of their own electricity, the battery may provide further incentive to do so, offering this additional advantage of storing your own power as well as creating it for immediate use.

Powerwall and smart meters combined

With the roll-out of smart meters planned for 2020, energy tariffs may be more heavily reliant on a consumer’s time of use.

When it’s cheaper to use electricity at different hours, storing some at the cheaper rate to then use at peak times seems like a clever option that Powerwall could facilitate.

However, the current price of Powerwall does not include installation, so until prices for this type of home tech drop even further you may not see a worthy return on investment just yet.

With storage being a hot topic for renewable energy, this technology has come as a welcome contribution towards the goal of decarbonisation.

If interest continues to rise and prices drop as a result, this product could become widely used.

Mercedes-Benz personal energy cell

Riding the success of Tesla’s now sold-out home battery, Mercedes-Benz have released their own rival to Tesla’s Powerwall. The Mercedes-Benz energy cell holds 2.5kWh of energy, and can be stacked similarly to the Powerwall, with up to eight batteries.

Details surrounding the release such as price and official name have been vague, however it has been announced that this Mercedes-Benz home battery will be available from September in Germany.

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