Elon Musk is a player. Visionary, relentless and prescient, he get it and it's not the cars he builds, it's the upcoming Powerwall, a device that, in time, will change everything regarding clean power and its relationship with fossil fuels and the utilities.
While wind and solar power have made great strides in recent years, with renewables now accounting for 22% of electric energy generated, the issue that has held them back has been their transience. The sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t blow year-round – these are the mantras of all those opposed to the progress of renewables.
Now the renewable power billionaire Elon Musk has just blown away that final defence. Last Thursday in California he introduced to the world his sleek new Powerwall – a wall-mounted energy storage unit that can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, all for US$3,500.
That translates into an electricity price (taking into account installation costs and inverters) of around US$500 per kWh – less than half current costs, as estimated by Deutsche Bank.
That translates into delivered energy at around 6 cents per kWh for the householder, meaning that a domestic system plus storage would still come out ahead of coal-fired power delivered through the conventional grid.
What’s more, Musk is going to manufacture the batteries in the United States, at the “gigafactory” he is building just over the border from California in Nevada. He is not waiting for some totally new technology, but is scaling up the tried and tested lithium-ion battery that he is already using for his electric vehicles.
Without question, the infrastructure's not there yet as thin film solar's still in the lab and the transition to graphene supercapacitors is still in it's infancy but the end is coming for fossil fuel whether big oil and coal producers like it or not, and it's about time.