Tesla (TSLA) unveils solar energy battery ‘powerwall’: Is it an industry gamechanger?

Tesla has figured out how to use the sun’s power when it isn’t shining.

Announced Thursday, Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) is introducing a line of battery systems directed at homeowners, utilities and businesses. An event was held at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, California, where CEO Elon Musk presided. The batteries will be available to residential customers of SolarCity Corp (SCTY); the partnership between Tesla and SolarCity, where Musk is a chairman on the Board of Directors as well as a principal shareholder, was announced last month.

“The obvious problem with solar power is that the sun doesn't shine at night,” Musk said at the event. “We need to store the energy to use at night.” He added: “The issue with existing batteries is that they suck. They’re really horrible.”

Dubbed the “Powerwall,” the battery system includes rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs that can be attached to a home garage wall as well as battery blocks large enough to level out variations in the grid. According to Tesla, the Powerwall is available in 10kWh (kilowatt hours), designed for backup applications, and is priced at $3,500. There is also a cheaper 7kWh version, priced at $3,000, which is optimized for daily use. Thus, Powerwall is meant “to give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.”

The batteries are derived from the same ones used in Tesla’s Model S vehicles; they will be connected to the Internet, allowing them to be managed by Tesla from afar. Customers can connect up to nine battery packs if they wish to store larger amounts of power.

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