In the not-so-distant future, your home may be powered by Tesla.
Elon Musk is likely to announce this week that the electric vehicle company is getting into the battery market for homes and businesses. The company’s battery system is reportedly an uninterrupted power supply, large enough to power things like lights and refrigerators even when grid electricity is offline. Tesla is also reportedly releasing a new utility-scale battery.
It makes sense–Tesla already makes batteries for its cars. The company’s new Nevada battery factory–dubbed the Gigafactory–will churn out 50 million kWh of lithium ion batteries by 2020. A significant piece of the Gigafactory’s production capacity could be dedicated to making storage batteries for consumer use. One of the goals of the gigafactory is to lower lithium-ion battery costs by 30%, and having dedicated production for storage batteries could make sure that it’s always working at full capacity.
Already, some 300 customers of SolarCity, a solar services provider that counts Musk as its chairman, are using Tesla’s batteries in their solar panel-equipped homes. These customers are storing excess energy from their solar panels in Tesla’s battery system–instead of sending unused energy back to the electric grid. For future customers without rooftop solar, the batteries could store electricity from the grid during off-peak times, when it’s cheapest, and then release it during peak usage hours, saving lots of money and easing pressure on the power grid.
According to the Guardian and investment analyst Trip Chowdhry, battery packs for the SolarCity customers (in 10 and 15 kwh arrangements) cost approximately $13,000, with a 50% rebate from Pacific Gas & Electric. A financing arrangement lets customers pay $1,500 upfront with payments of $15 each month for a decade. After that time, SolarCity takes back the battery.
Tesla has also started working with corporate battery customers. Walmart has installed batteries at 11 of its California stores, and Cargill has an installation at an animal processing plant in the state, according to Bloomberg.