Tesla’s Elon Musk says Powerwall already economically viable in Australia

US electric vehicle and battery maker, Tesla, has declared energy storage already economically viable in Australia, as the upstart company’s founder and CEO Elon Musk provided more insight into why his new Powerwall product was likely to be a major hit.

In a briefing to analysts earlier this week, Musk also brushed aside estimates from analysts that the Tesla products are not as cheap as some may have thought.

As reported earlier this week, Australia and Germany are likely to be the two key markets where battery storage products like Tesla’s Powerwall – on sale in the US for just $US3,000 – are likely to be adopted quickly.

“Germany and Australia are very strong markets where it does make economic sense today based on the feed-in tariff and the electricity rate structures in those countries,” said chief technology officer JB Straubel.

Musk also said there had been a lot of confusion about the pricing of the battery storage offering from Tesla. Some have suggested that the retail price will be effectively double, because the Powerwall will need the same money spent again on suitable inverters.

Musk says that is not right. The Powerwall includes a DC to DC inverter, and that can interface directly with a solar panel installation.

“And if somebody has a solar panel installation, they already will have a DC to AC inverter for the solar panel system, and so no incremental DC to AC inverter is needed,” Musk said.

“In some of the analysis we’ve seen online by people who think are experts, they don’t seem to realize that there is a DC/DC inverter. If you already have a solar installation or you’re going to get one, the DC/AC inverter is already there. That’s an important point in considering the cost of the system.”

He also addressed the issue of temperature, which has a supposed limit of 43°C.

“It’s actually capable of operating at a much wider band of temperature. So we got to fix that specification that’s stated on the website.”

As Shaubel noted, the battery will operate in the same places as the Model S EV, which is everywhere, and it doesn’t have to move.

And Musk also addressed some of the questions about cycling and chemical make up.

The 10kWh device is designed as back-up, suitable for 60-70 cycles per year. Its chemistry is similar to the Tesla Model S electric vehicle, and is nickel-cobalt-aluminium cathode.

The 7kWh system is designed for daily cycling – when homes and businesses will store solar electricity produced during the day. Its daily cycling control constituent is nickel-manganese-cobalt, and Musk expects it to daily cycle for “something on the order” of 15 years.

“Actually the warranty period would be a little bit less than that,” Musk said.

“But we expect it to be something that’s in the kind of 5,000 cycle range capability, whereas the high-energy pack is more like around the maybe depending upon on how it’s used anywhere from 1,000 cycles to 1,500 cycles. And they have comparable calendar lives, and for the high energy one, it’s important to appreciate that this actually has a lot of interest from utilities “

And the high cycling pack will be good for wind and solar on a utility scale.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson

Giles Parkinson regularly contributes unique content to Solar Choice News. Giles is the founder and editor of clean energy industry news service RenewEconomy. He is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the founding editor of Climate Spectator.
Giles Parkinson