Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Can production keep up with the “crazy-off-the-hook” demand?
On April 30, Tesla announced the launch of mounted Powerwall battery packs that collect reserves of energy generated by homes' solar panels. The concept is simple: It’s about energy storage.
There are questions about how feasible it really is to hook the batteries up to existing solar panel technology. But in theory, here’s how it works: Residents can connect the rechargeable battery to already-installed solar panels and then draw upon the stored energy whenever they need to—say, in the case of a disaster or grid-down scenario. The batteries—which have a 10 year warranty—come in two models: 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle. For context, Tesla estimates that the average refrigerator uses about 4.8 kWh per day.
The public response was, to put it mildly, frenzied.
Bloomberg crunched the numbers, and here’s their staggering prediction: Tesla’s new battery packs nabbed $800 million in potential revenue in the first week alone. In an earnings presentation, CEO Elon Musk described this figure as “crazy-off-the-hook.” No kidding.
Still, it’s important to note that these numbers are just a forecast: Certainly, some people who are amped up now will change their mind by the time Powerwalls are actually for sale. The “reservation” process simply involved providing an email address and answering a few questions gauging interest in different products. So, there’s no obligation to follow through and actually install one of the battery packs, which start at $3,000.
But it’s easy to imagine that many people will still want to get their hands on these batteries once the honeymoon period is over. The quest for sustainable energy continues, as many people—and entire cities—aim to find ways to decrease dependence on the electrical grid.
As of right now, Gizmodo reports, the company’s new $5 billion factory can’t accommodate the barrage of orders, and delivery could be delayed by a year or more. So, as we head into power-outage season, you’d be wise to find other ways to keep your gizmos juiced up.