Tesla and the utility-independent home

primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' BoopinDetroit, MI

There's something strangely poetic about a company called "Tesla" ringing the death knell for a power system championed by his rival Edison...

Comments

  • LincLinc Bard Detroit

    I have a strong desire for a solution like this at ICHQ. A backup generator and solar panels are both investments I'd like to make. A household battery backup would be amazing.

  • I linked to this in the solar freakin roadways discussion in may of oh fourteen. just sayin.
    http://qz.com/151801/why-solarcity-and-tesla-are-going-to-replace-your-utility/

    /hipster

    LincCreeperbane2
  • LincLinc Bard Detroit

    @PirateNinja I gave you a sympathy hug for being ahead of your time.

  • You could survive so much longer in a zombie apocalypse!

    HeroCelshLinc
  • @Linc said:
    PirateNinja I gave you a sympathy hug for being ahead of your time.

    _k
  • Also, having grown up in rural Iowa, these things would be a big hit. They would sell like crazy if they were about the price of a generator, as opposed to a new car.

  • HeroHero formerly known as XGPHero

    if it was the price of a generator, nobody (ok maybe not nobody) would have municipal power, and nobody (seriously nobody) would buy generators.

  • Its still just a battery; it stores not generates power.

  • HeroHero formerly known as XGPHero

    i was thinking more about solar panel w/ battery

  • Oh, that's fair. I haven't seen a lot of those in the midwest, though.

  • BetsyDBetsyD Cincinnati, OH

    @CB Now I have a new thing to want in my future perfect forever home.

  • Creeperbane2Creeperbane2 Victorian Scoundrel Indianapolis, IN

    Nuf said..

  • I just want SolarCity to come to Michigan soon (I know they won't, we got that lovely government that would never give tax incentives for hippie things like solar power)... I'd love to be able to lease a solar array on my next house.

  • Can't you do that without SolarCity and instead with any of the existing home solar companies in MI?

  • CrazyJoeCrazyJoe Winter Springs, FL
    edited February 2015

    Meanwhile in Florida...

    Gotta love when the Sunshine State is anti solar power because Big Business is in control of the government.

  • I can't imagine how expensive a home battery storage system would be. Probably $30-40k to have enough batteries to supply around 20-30 kWh needed on a daily basis. A solar power system will typically generate the same amount of power required for average light and appliance usage in the house. You would only be able to store about a day or day and a half's worth of power though. If you did anything high power in the house you'd be screwed too. Winter months meaning that you might have a negative output of energy due to the lack of sunlight.

    Then remember, you'll have to buy the system every 10 years. Lithium-Ions don't last forever. That's some expensive energy. I like the idea for some select use cases, but it is far from being a magic bullet solution to home energy.

  • What are you basing your assumptions on? Elon didn't specify what the battery would be made of...

  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI

    Yeah, if this was anybody else I'd be a little extra cautious in my cautious optimism, but Musk's MO is not to take something that sucks and slap a new sticker on it - if he's looking at a home battery scenario, he's not just using existing crappy parts, he's working on something improved that will make it more worthwhile. I don't think he's going to "solve" battery tech, personally (though I'm sure hoping for it), but I doubt it will be both prohibitively expensive and entirely derivative. I figure one or the other - amazing and expensive, or less expensive and more intelligently designed current tech.

  • @CannonFodder said:
    What are you basing your assumptions on? Elon didn't specify what the battery would be made of...

    Unless he's radically changed the face of battery storage, I can't imagine what else would be used. He won't use Hydrogen...

    It falls into the category of 'moonshot' for sure. Unlike SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla he won't get help from subsidies for this AFAIK or any utility companies for that matter. Thus, it would be another money pit that will take a fair amount of R&D to get through, unless, like I mentioned above, they carry over tech from the similar-tech to get a more rapid prototype.

    If you haven't noticed, I don't exactly have the greatest faith in Musk's endeavors.

  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI

    I'd be interested in why not - it's not like he hasn't been wildly successful in everything he's attempted.

    RyanFodder
  • I don't see enough information to call it a money pit, or a "moonshot."

    1) You have not presented enough information to predict "$30-40k" for the cost of a battery. I would be interested in the math of scaling up a current battery of high storage proportions by storage capacity to something like a 2 day supply at the average household power usage. There is also the volume of sales to account for, which I don't know how to do. Things get much less expensive if you're selling 10,000 vs 1,000 of something.

    2) 20-30 kWh per household is too much. Here's a better number.

    3) Solar power is scalable depending on MANY factors. Here's a site listing 7-9 kWh from Solar. Anecdotal, sure, but it gets in the ball park.

    4) Both storage and generation technologies scale better the more widely used they are. Typically new technologies get subsidized to gain entry into a market. As they enter the market, their performance AND their economic feasibility improve. You don't just magically get new technologies for free. As a side note, what companies would you hold in a higher regard that don't take subsidies?

    5) Anything new, any new product, requires "a fair amount of R&D."

    I, for one, would rather have my tax dollars going to researching new technologies like this, rather than buying tanks / planes we don't need, or funding ridiculous political campaigns.

    colaHeroardichoke
  • @PirateNinja said:
    Can't you do that without SolarCity and instead with any of the existing home solar companies in MI?

    Perhaps, I haven't done extensive research yet (I'm not putting solar in this house, I'd never get the money back and I plan to try and unload it soon anyway). I'm just not aware of any companies in Michigan that do leased solar systems the way SolarCity does.

  • AlexDeGruvenAlexDeGruven Wut? Meechigan

    Standard LiIon is probably not going to be used for these systems. It just doesn't quite scale the same way. There are some alternatives, however, like the carbon-cathode (or was it anode) batteries which dramatically increase capacity per volume (which is probably the most important factor right now). Another interesting one is LiTiO (Lithium Titanate) batteries which have a massive energy density and can charge as fast as they can discharge.

    As for solar in winter, I think you're confusing heat with light. Yes, there is less overall sunlight in winter, particularly as you move north, but there is still quite a lot when you're south of 45. In the case of my house, I have a huge south-facing surface both in siding and roof. My kids' room is the warmest in the house, and the family room gets unbearably warm compared to the rest of the house in certain times of day even when it's below zero outside. Increases in efficiency are also continually coming, which will help out a lot.

    To think about endeavors like this through the lens of existing technologies is a bit shortsighted. None of these things being proposed now are really targeted at the short-game.

  • drasnordrasnor Starship Operator Hawthorne, CA

    @doabarrellroll said:
    Unlike SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla he won't get help from subsidies for this AFAIK or any utility companies for that matter.

    SpaceX is not subsidized. They compete for contracts with the government and commercial customers like everyone else.

    cola
  • @drasnor said:
    SpaceX is not subsidized. They compete for contracts with the government and commercial customers like everyone else.

    SpaceX is basically supported by NASA. They have been granted access to a lot of the previous work done by NASA throughout their years in the space program. A few of my friends are rocket scientists with NASA over at the AMES Research Center (I know that sounds cheeky, sorry). I flat out asked them last weekend about it and they said, "They're basically using a carbon copy of our existing technology because NASA's job is provide the foundations of research so that private enterprise has a flatter slope of adoption into new technologies."

    So, it's not like they've managed to create their own space program from nothing. They even use a fair number of the NASA facilities in California.

  • SnarkasmSnarkasm Madison, WI

    They also hired ex-NASA engineers, but a true "subsidy" is being paid by the government to reduce the overall cost of doing business - the corn subsidy, for example. SpaceX may have been built off the shoulders of giants, but so have most other ventures throughout time.

  • @CannonFodder said:
    I don't see enough information to call it a money pit, or a "moonshot."

    1) You have not presented enough information to predict "$30-40k" for the cost of a battery. I would be interested in the math of scaling up a current battery of high storage proportions by storage capacity to something like a 2 day supply at the average household power usage. There is also the volume of sales to account for, which I don't know how to do. Things get much less expensive if you're selling 10,000 vs 1,000 of something.

    2) 20-30 kWh per household is too much. Here's a better number.

    3) Solar power is scalable depending on MANY factors. Here's a site listing 7-9 kWh from Solar. Anecdotal, sure, but it gets in the ball park.

    4) Both storage and generation technologies scale better the more widely used they are. Typically new technologies get subsidized to gain entry into a market. As they enter the market, their performance AND their economic feasibility improve. You don't just magically get new technologies for free. As a side note, what companies would you hold in a higher regard that don't take subsidies?

    5) Anything new, any new product, requires "a fair amount of R&D."

    I, for one, would rather have my tax dollars going to researching new technologies like this, rather than buying tanks / planes we don't need, or funding ridiculous political campaigns.

    1) They offer replacement packs for the P85+ at $12k, but I have to imagine this is somehow looped into the price of the original car. The original sticker shock on replacing the Roadster's batteries (58kWh) was $40k before they had any of this O.o

    There is another company in San Jose, Wrightspeed, ironically enough started by a gentleman who used to be on the board of directors at Tesla, who do hybrid conversions on heavy duty trucks. They use 25-39kWh batteries in their conversions with the total cost exceeding $100k. The electric motors are relatively cheap comparatively.

    2) I'm not sure what you mean. Even with 903 kWh/month, that works out to around 26 kWh/day.

    3) SolarCity panels at the moment make something like 1% efficiency, because they are cheaply replaceable and built in China. It's a very easy way of getting solar power available to the masses. They might get better in the future with a new supplier. Maybe they should develop a power management type Nest system that helps you regulate power usage through the battery storage to maintain the SOC over dark-hours. Sounds like a battery engineer's nightmare. That sounds like a new way to build homes honestly. Dynamically controllable outlets manipulated from a central control unit that can sleep non-essentials, etc to maximize power savings.

    4) AFAIK, Nissan never received any government help for developing the Leaf or building their own battery plant in Smyrna, TN. Ghosn decided to go all in for their electric car initiative using the funds of the company for R&D. You get a tax credit for buying a Leaf, but that's it.
    I won't talk about Apple or Google because it's not really a fair comparison. Also, they produce mostly consumers products.

    5) Yes, absolutely. Lots of money in, nothing comes out, for a while.

  • @AlexDeGruven said:

    To think about endeavors like this through the lens of existing technologies is a bit shortsighted. None of these things being proposed now are really targeted at the short-game.

    I love this. The long-game technology development is what truly interests me. For the most part, it seems like these are very short term solutions that may be scalable once storage tech catches up.

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