SolarCity CEO Explains Benefits Of Tesla Powerwall – Video

JUN 8 2015 BY MARK KANE 32

Powerwall Coupled With SolarCity PV Installation

Powerwall Coupled With SolarCity PV Installation

Bloomberg recently asked SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive to explain what are the benefits of having a Tesla battery at home.

SolarCity offers Tesla Powerwalls for back-up purposes in 10 kWh versions) and in this case Lyndon Rive said the benefits are no noise, wall mount, looks good and does not stink like internal combustion generator.

The amount of energy is small and probably won’t provide enough energy for the night. On the other hand, for a generator you need to store reserve fuel in case of emergency.

Lyndon Rive mentions two more important things. First is that they expect that within 5 years almost every solar system will come with battery.

The second part is something that could disappoint many enthusiasts – off-grid (solar + battery) is bad policy according to Rive. In his opinion the right solution is to have solar, battery backup and still reserve connection to the grid, which would maybe use batteries for peak shaving.

Deliveries of Powerwall are scheduled to begin in October.

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32 Comments on "SolarCity CEO Explains Benefits Of Tesla Powerwall – Video"

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mustang_sallad

“The second part is something that could disappoint many enthusiasts – off-grid (solar + battery) is bad policy according to Rive. In his opinion the right solution is to have solar, battery backup and still reserve connection to the grid, which would maybe use batteries for peak shaving.”

Those enthusiasts aren’t being rational. Everyone would need MUCH more storage if they all want to go it alone. Our ability to make do on intermittant, distributed generation will benefit greatly if we pool our resources. It would be negligent to ignore this amazing infrastructure that we’ve already paid for that lets us share electricity and keep track of how much each end point generates and/or consumes. These enthusiasts will probably figure that out for themselves once they crunch the numbers.

MikeM

@mustang_sallad

Re. misplaced enthusiasm for off-grid living.
I have to agree. But…. it’s very much a case of where and how you live.

In my case, in the Pacific NW, we have an electrically heated, net-zero house.
We see a shortfall (solar production over consumption) of -4 to -6 MWh. totalled over the winter months.
Yes folks, that’s Megawatt hours!
Thats indicative of the battery sizing I would need to go off grid. No thanks!

At the other extreme; Hawaii, needing little heating might be quite a different story, as would a user of modest needs elsewhere with, say, propane for heating and cooking.

But the philosophy of “Gonna get me a Tesla battery and a few solar panels, go off-grid and dump the power company” is largely laughable.

Nick

An off grid electrically heated house would be quite a crazy thing. In the Pacific Northwest of all places!

A heat pump is going to get you much farther.

MikeM

We use heat pumps. They actually consume electricity!

Brian

“In the Pacific Northwest of all places!”

Um, excuse me, but the PNW has very moderate winters in comparison to the rest of the northern states. Winters in the Midwest and Northeast are far colder.

JZoe

“In my case, in the Pacific NW, we have an electrically heated, net-zero house.
We see a shortfall (solar production over consumption) of -4 to -6 MWh. totalled over the winter months.
Yes folks, that’s Megawatt hours!
Thats indicative of the battery sizing I would need to go off grid. No thanks!”

Your last statement is not correct. You would not need to cover the total accumulated shortfall for the winter with the batteries. You would only need to cover your individual daily shortfall.

JZoe

Never mind what I just said. I was thinking about this wrong. You are correct. Your solar array would have to grow in addition to needing more batteries to make up for this delta.

With that said, if you lived off grid you would certainly find ways to become more efficient out of necessity.

Alonso Perez

It really depends where you live and what kind of house you have. Off-grid can work with a very efficient house, like a passive house or near passive house. There are not many houses like that though.

Rive doesn’t push off-grid today because their business model rests on feed-in tariffs, they don’t want the utilities to see them as even more of a threat, and they aren’t able to economically make most regular homes off-grid, and won’t be for decades.

Lensman

And not only more storage. From a couple of first-hand reports I’ve read recently, off-gridders need about 4-5 times as much in the way of solar panels, for cloudy / rainy / snowy days, as what you need for a sunny day… that is, 4-5 times as much as what solar advocates typically recommend.

Yeah, in the overwhelming majority of cases, using solar power as the basis for off-grid living simply doesn’t make any economic sense.

Cavaron

I see the power grid of the future as some kind of Borg Cube (any Star Trek fans here?). Many small generation and storage sites intelligently combined will make the grid extremely reliable. No matter how many powerlines you cut, you will just generate smaller but working grid units down to states, cities, streets or even single households with solar, storage and some windmills here and there.

Can’t think of a better system in emergency situations.

drpawansharma

Let pundits say what they want, the trickle will turn into torrent soon. Enthusiasts may be a very small segment of the society but they are going to ignite the solar storage market. Watch australia..it is going to start there.

ggpa

Why do you think Australia will lead the charge? Are you expecting changes in their laws and incentives?

Speculawyer

Australia had a corruption problem and overbuilt their grid such that their electricity is very expensive. That combined with the fact that they have lots of sun and lots of remote homes makes it an ideal place to sell batteries.

pjwood1

Solar City’s, Lyndon Rive would say “Off-grid” solar is bad policy, because Solar City retains SRECs, and other dollar benefits of METERED renewable energy, through leasing (or PPA). If your behind the meter watts aren’t measured, they aren’t priced. You simply avoid the cost, and pay for the hardware up front.

Speculawyer

Well, it really is bad policy. The grid is there and it allows people to balance generation sources and loads. So we should use it. It is much harder to build completely independent systems that do all their own generation and balancing. The trick is to find the grid policy that is acceptable to both the utility and the consumers. And the utility basically losing much of their revenue is not going to be something they like.

Alonso Perez

Well, they won’t like it unless their costs fall even more, and so their profitability increases. Utilities have, over decades, become used to a low, but consistent, profit level. So to them revenue is everything. They should shift their attention to the bottom line, not the top. Distributed power can do that if the utility does it right.

ggpa

At the moment it seems that the recent Nissan Leaf batteries last very well, and used Leafs are cheap. It might be easy to make your own powerwall from a used Leaf battery, which has much more capacity as well …

Jeff Songster

If we could just get the Nichicon/Nissan V2H unit here… then you use your car to back up your homes power in a pinch… and otherwise it is used for a slow CHAdeMO charger… about the same as a 30amp AC. One of them comes with a pair of outlets on the side… so without even changing home wiring… you could use a LEAF battery to keep home refrig and lights going… and charge your phones and such… maybe even run the microwave. So… seems like a good idea for the emergencies. Especially when you have 2 LEAFs. one to drive out get CHAdeMO power from an area outside the outage and drive home to keep the place going.

Lensman

It’s really not advisable to try to use an EV battery pack for home energy storage. You’d have to either build your own BMS (Battery Management System) or be able to hack the one that is built into the pack, to adapt it to home energy storage use.

For anyone who wants details, see this Tesla Motors Club thread about someone who had a project to adapt a Model S power pack for home energy storage use:

http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/34934-Pics-Info-Inside-the-battery-pack

Speculawyer

“First is that they expect that within 5 years almost every solar system will come with battery.”

There is no way that is happening unless the price of batteries really comes way down.

“The second part is something that could disappoint many enthusiasts – off-grid (solar + battery) is bad policy according to Rive.”

This is true. The grid is there. Use it. Trying build a 100% reliable off-grid solar PV system is very difficult because of the rare corner cases such as a week long storm that severely reduces your sun collection. During that time, you should be using lots of wind collected from big wind turbines connected to the grid.

LuStuccc

Grid dirty
Sun clean

Bill Howland

An off-grid system, for a rural summer cottage, where the alternative would be a $10-20,000 construction charge for the Utility to run their Mains to the cottage makes much sense.

A single Tesla Powerwall (7kwh) plus a 2 kw of solar panels would provide enough for this summer home’s minimal electrical needs – small refrigerator, small (1/3 hp (250w)) water pump, tv, and a few LED’s or CFL’s used only at night. Since the home only needs about 1000 watts peak, there is enough battery capacity to tide them over night, or on a cloudy day. Heating and Cooking and hot water would be easily be provided by a propane tank the homeowner could either bring with them or have delivered, but the ultimate objective is to keep electric usage to JUST what is absolutely required, and use easily obtainable other sources for the larger ‘energy’ requirements, but the point is, when faced with a $20,000 construction charge on something youd have to pay monthly bills anyway, suddenly a small off-grid solar / battery system seems very, very compelling.

Bill Howland

This homeowner’s electric vehicle(s) would obviously charge up either at home, or at his place of work, if Public Chargers aren’t available, so as to not put a strain on the cottage’s meager system.

Brian

My uncle had a summer cottage in rural VT years ago. He ran the thing on about 1kW of solar panels and 2kWh of lead batteries. Granted, he also kept a diesel generator on hand, but his rarely ever used it. The alternative was over $40,000 to run the powerlines the over 2 miles down a dirt road and up the driveway. It was a no brainer.

That said, I have to believe this is a small market and not what Tesla/Solar City are targeting. I agree with the conclusion that the grid can be a good thing. Sharing is always better than each providing his own. Our society got to where it is by allowing people to specialize and share their skills. We would not be where we are if we were all subsistence farmers. The same can be true of energy generation.

Bill Howland

Well its one use that I’m listing that makes sense not too far from me. My house its not really attractive at all, since gasoline energy storage is far cheaper than batteries.

And it will be a hard sell to the neighbors since they’ve already bought all their Gereracs.

Now one place a commercial customer might find attractive is to have a 10 kwh system (Tesls Powerwall), and use it for Emergency Lighting, since in the congested downtown areas of most cities, handling the generator exhaust inside a building is problematic and there is no real estate for it other than on the roof. For these installation problematic instances, the Tesla Powerwall would be seen as an economic solution, where, in the general case, it would be seen as overpriced and the conventional way of handling things would be used instead.

Lensman

You have indeed described the most common case where off-grid living actually makes sence: A summer vacation cabin/cottage, not a full-sized home, with very limited power needs, in a rural area away from the grid, where the cost for a grid hookup is prohibitively high. You could also improve that by using direct solar heating for hot water, altho you’ll still need gas for cooking, which could be provided by a propane tank.

Of course, as your follow-up post already noted, such a limited power setup doesn’t let you do home charging of a plug-in EV.

Bill Howland

Of course, on a bright sunny day, and/or a few more solar panels, there may be enough juice remaining to charge up any GM EV at the default rate (900 watts).

Bill Howland

Of course, before the Tesla Powerwall (what with its very high ‘visibility’), the only alternative which has become VERY POPULAR around here has been those 1 or 2 kw Honda Inverter Generators.

I’m seeing those everywhere I go that commercial power is either unavailable, too expensive to connect to, or impractical. I could see either these small generators, or else Tesla Powerwalls/Solar Panels, powering equivalent stationary loads.

sven
“. . . Lyndon Rive said the benefits are no noise, wall mount, looks good and does not stink like internal combustion generator. The amount of energy is small and probably won’t provide enough energy for the night. On the other hand, for a generator you need to store reserve fuel in case of emergency.” I was looking at generators in Costco just the other day, and they sell an $850 Champion “dual fuel” generator that runs on either gasoline or propane. Wouldn’t propane solve the stink issue? I always have a full extra 20 lb. tank of propane so that I won’t run out mid BBQ and have to run to the store for an exchange to continue cooking. Propane also does’t go stale like gasoline when stored for long periods of time. So that solves the storing reserve fuel for emergency issue. These generators are rated 6,300W-Running/8,100W-Peak while running on propane, and will run for 5 hours at 50% load on a 20 lb. tank of propane. That works out to 15.75 kWh for each 20 lb. propane tank (6,300W x 50% x 5 hours). Does anyone know whether running a generator on propane results in less maintenance… Read more »
Bill Howland

Yes, Running a generator – Provided it has hardened valves since the operating temperature in the cylinder is so much higher (Natural gas’s ‘octane rating’ is 130), runs much cleaner on either Natural Gas or Propane, and, with the proviso that it is DESIGNED for this service, should last many more hours than a convential gasoline engine since there is less gunk and sludge generated.

Depending on your electrical requirements, there are also variable speed 4kw inverter generators (and sure to be larger than even this in the near futur) if you value extreme quiet, have many hours running at part loading, and don’t mind the added initial cost. I’m not a Honda salesman, but the entire Honda lineup is very compelling. Many other manufacturers are getting into the act, with some making good products, and other stuff being absolute junk.

sven

Thanks for responding Bill. I’d almost never use the generator, it’s just in case of a extremely rare electrical blackout. I just don’t want to use it once or twice, let it sit for a couple of years, then not be able to start it (because it’s gunked up) after a hurricane hits and the power goes out. After Hurricane Sandy hit, I give my neighbor an old white gas Coleman lantern and stove that had be sitting around unused with stale fuel for almost two decades, and both lit right up and worked fine.

Brian F

I love his statement as you paraphrased “off-grid (solar + battery) is bad policy according to Rive. In his opinion the right solution is to have solar, battery backup and still reserve connection to the grid, which would maybe use batteries for peak shaving.”

Yes! Utilities are full of bad policy that make bad rate structures. If your home is on the grid today going off grid is purely the result of bad policy. It is fair better for the home owner and utility to connect these systems to the grid. Both will lower their expenses…a classic win win.