Power Systems Design has long predicted that energy storage would be the next major development in power electronics, from portable devices to grid-level infrastructures. From American Vanadium's CellCube energy storage system to Princeton Power's energy management technology, most approaches PSD has seen targeted grid-level infrastructures. Elon Musk's Tesla has with one fell swoop radically changed the focus of the debate with the launch of their new Powerwall energy storage system.
Designed to empower (pun intended) households that have energy-harvesting capabilities with a plug-in backup power and bridge energy management system, the Tesla Powerwall is more than just a battery pack. It is an intelligent programmable power managment system that not only stores energy, but manages it as well to enable a household to become truly independent of the grid, or form part of an intelligent microgird with virtual power stations.
The Powerwall currently comes in 10kWh weekly cycle and 7kWh daily cycle models. Both are guaranteed for ten years and are sufficient to power most homes during peak evening hours. Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes with greater energy need, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery and 63 kWh total for the 7 kWh battery (inverter not included). There are also versions for businesses and facilities.
The Powerwall consists of Tesla’s lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system, and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter. The unit mounts on a wall and is integrated with the local grid to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.
The virtualization of power in the grid is already under development at higher levels in the grid, but this development changes the playing field significantly. Just as the iPod underscored the importance of core functionality in consumer electronics, the Powerwall is poised to change the debate on how energy is managed in a grid from the bottom up.