An engineering company, with an agenda to be part of our daily lives, is setting the bar higher and higher as the need for clean energy technologies sees global demand.
Rising CO2 levels has been the key motivator for Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who has made it his life's mission to make sustainable, renewable energy technologies that would inflict less harm on the planet.
With that dream in mind, Tesla and its subsidiaries have been hard at work at building the prototypical clean energy ecosystem for individuals in society. In layman’s terms, Tesla is actively working towards a fully, sustainably powered house. A defining feature of a house is, of course, the roof. Thus, Musk announced the Tesla Solar Roof earlier this year.
"The goal is to have solar roofs that look better than a normal roof that generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity. Why would you buy anything else?" Musk said.
The energy captured by the Solar Roof will be stored in Tesla’s Powerwall 2.0. The PowerWall is a high density lithium-ion battery that will capture and store the energy that has been captured by the solar panels on the roof. The stored energy can be used to minimize the amount of utility-provided grid-energy for a house. The Powerwall powers lights, sockets, the refrigerator, and bedrooms of an average 4 bedroom house. Musk says that with the Solar Roof installed it would enable a house to be powered indefinitely, even during peak hours. The company is also releasing the Powerpack 2 that will integrate with international power grids.
Musk has asserted that the energy ecosystem they are working on is not fool-proof; in other words the grid will be needed as a back-up.
"The solution is both local power generation and utility power generation. It's not one or the other. Sometimes the Solar Roof is positioned as a competitor to utilities, but, we're actually going to need utility power to increase, and we're going to need local power generation," Musk said.
Steve Mackay, the Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, looks further into the future, however, arguing that traditional utilities will get into serious trouble with advancing power technologies.
"When you have a decreasing need for power from the utilities - because you are producing your own power at your home – utility revenue will inevitably drop." Mackay goes further, he explains that government controlled power utilities will "jack-up" the prices which will then in turn cause power consumption to "drop-off" even further. "This is causing major challenges for power utilities around the world and is often referred to as the 'power utility spiral of death'."
To top it all off, Tesla has a vision that one day, along with our solar powered houses; we will be driving their fully autonomous, fully electric vehicles. Tesla Motors’ Model 3 is entering production in 2017. The first prototypes are being spotted on roads in the United States now in the month of June.
The cars are powered via similar lithium-ion battery technology like the company’s Powerwalls are. Hence, the Powerwalls are able to charge the vehicle up.
Steve Mackay. Engineering Career.org. 12 June 2017.