Many know Tesla as the American Electric Vehicle, (EV) manufacturing company that created the first highway-legal electric sports car—the Roadster. Since doing so in 2008, Tesla has championed in the manufacturing of five additional models: Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y and the Cybertruck. 

The company prides itself in its vehicles performance, design, lightweight materials and most importantly, energy efficiency. According to Tesla, their mission “is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

Therefore, Tesla is much more than an electric car manufacturer. When I was at CES 2018 it was obvious. It’s a company that views sustainable energy as a way of the future. Not only through zero-emission vehicles, but by powering homes as well as commercial and industrial organizations through renewable sources. 

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Tesla vehicle. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Powering homes with Tesla technology

With climate change on the rise, more and more people are seeking ways to slash their energy usage and reduce their carbon footprint. Consequently, converting sunlight into clean renewable energy is easier and more cost effective than ever before. 

In 2015, Tesla unveiled its new line of batteries to store solar energy that would power homes and businesses. The following year, Tesla took it a step further by purchasing SolarCity—a solar panel company. Now the company provides solar panels and Solarglass roofs for consumers across the United States. 

Solar panels

According to Tesla, their all black monochromatic solar panels are sleek, easy to install and durable in design. The low-profile panels quietly convert sunlight into energy to power an entire home. Additionally, homeowners can conveniently manage their power usage through a mobile app. 

There are two ways to obtain Tesla’s solar panels; purchasing at full price or renting. Both options vary in price depending on state and number of panels needed. 

However, the ability to rent solar panels is a rather new option for people. Tesla’s new solar subscription program allows people in six states to reduce their electric bills while paying as little as $50 a month for the panels. The six participating states are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico. 

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Tesla solar panels on a home. Photo copyrights belong to Tesla.

Benefits include clean, cheap energy to power homes and vehicles, no upfront costs and no decades-long agreement. Additionally, the subscription fee includes the panels, any other needed hardware, installation, support and maintenance. 

People can check the cost to buy or rent Tesla’s solar panels by state here and more on the subscription program here

Solarglass roof 

In addition to traditional solar panels, Tesla has innovated what it calls a Solarglass roof. It’s a combination of solar and non-solar tiles made of both Solarglass and tempered glass tiles to create an energy generating roof. According to Tesla, the tiles are more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles. Like solar panels, this product also varies in price. 

Energy-storing batteries 

Batteries are an important factor when installing solar panels anywhere, particularly to self-power entirely. The Tesla Powerwall is a battery technology that stores excess solar energy that is produced throughout the day. In turn, homeowners with solar panels can use that saved energy to power their homes at night.

Additionally, Tesla has partnered with utility company, National Grid to launch a new program called ConnectedSolutions. The program gives customers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island the opportunity to enroll and link their Powerwalls to others across the state. This allows them to create a large virtual power plant with clean energy to be used during peak hours. 

These customers can expect to earn the most from the Powerwall system when solar energy is sufficient to recharge the battery daily. During events, the systems will be able to release and share the most capacity. As a result, Tesla states that Powerwall could earn its customers as much as $700 a year in MA and $1,000 a year in RI. 

Further, the Powerwall will always maintain at least 20 percent of its capacity to provide energy during unexpected power outages. 

According to Tesla, participating customers can also take advantage of solar incentives which will earn them hundreds of dollars every year. Subsequently, the incentive programs will help reduce the overall cost of solar and even cover the whole cost of Powerwall. 

Massachusetts solar customers are eligible to receive Powerwall incentives through the SMART Program  and Rhode Island solar customers are eligible for the Small Scale Renewable Energy Growth Program

Powering large scale: businesses and industry 

Tesla’s clean energy efforts don’t end there. In 2016 the company’s CEO, Elon Musk introduced its massive commercial battery, the Powerpack. According to Business Insider, the Powerpack could be Tesla’s biggest component when it comes to its energy vision. 

The Powerpack has the ability to power large businesses and even entire cities. It can not only store solar energy, but function as a backup generator. When utility rates are low, the Powerpack takes energy from the grid. 

Here are some basics regarding the Powerpack:

  • Cutting edge battery system designed for long-term energy efficiency.

  • Contains 16 individual battery pods, built with a cooling and heating system.

  • A modular layout that is infinitely flexible and scalable. 

  • Powers up to 130 kW (AC) per powerpack. 

  • At peak times, it discharges to avoid or reduce demand charges. 

  • Shifts energy consumption from one point in time to another to avoid paying high energy prices. 

  • Provides backup power in the event of a grid interruption. This function can be standalone or tied to solar. 

Moreover, like the residential solar subscription program, Tesla has also launched a subscription program for commercial customers in California. To enroll, customers must either own the building or have permission from the owner to install solar. They must also be a ratepayer to one of these utility companies: Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE). 

The program offers three system sizes: 40 kW, 120 kW and 240 kW. According to Tesla, the subscription rate for 40 kW is $12.9 ¢/kWh for an estimated annual generation amount of $10,660 – $12,300 and total net of $3,950 – $4,560. 

The fixed monthly subscription fee includes the panels and other necessary hardware, installation, support and maintenance.

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Tesla Powerpack system at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy of Eillin Delapaz.

The Powerpack 2

Shortly after the Powerpack was introduced, Tesla announced its Powerpack 2 with twice the energy capacity — 200 kWh. In a blog post, Tesla states that the new system is matched with a new inverter. “It is the lowest cost, highest efficiency and highest power density utility-scale inverter on the market,” wrote Tesla. 

As Business Insider reports, Tesla will power the largest lithium ion battery storage project in the world—20 MW/80 MWh Powerpack system at the Southern California Edison Mira Loma substation. Off peak hours will allow the Powerpack to grab power from the grid and charge. 

Tesla adds that “the combined system is now a cost-competitive alternative to other traditional utility infrastructure solutions such as building larger substations, bigger wires and more power plants.”

Working with utility companies is an important part of transitioning the world to clean renewable energy. Tesla has deployed its batteries to over 15 countries across the globe.

Sources:

Tesla.com

Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-powerpack-2-commercial-battery-facts-features-2016-11

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