To provide energy for nearly 7.2 billion people on earth itself is a huge task, and most of the energy needs today is met through the use of fossil fuels. The International energy agency estimated that in 2012, the world energy consumption was 13,371 Mtoe , or 5.6 × 1020 joules. Oil is still the primary source of energy. However, during the period of 2000–2012, coal was the source of energy with the largest growth in terms of usage. The use of other fossil fuels and electricity followed that trend.
We can see the disadvantages of using too much fossil fuel. Firstly, fossil fuels are limited resources. Too much use can decrease their abundance rapidly and this can be a critical situation. Apart from this major disadvantage, the use of fossil fuels results in another drawback. Burning fossil fuels is one of the major reasons of pollution. Although coal, gas and petroleum are in demand, their consumption is directly harmful for the human beings.
Tesla, the company headed by versatile entrepreneur Elon Musk has an answer. It believes that the future belongs to renewable energy resources. It is important to note that Tesla has already proved that it wants to change the energy use trends of the 21st-century civilisation. The company has successfully created electric cars that run on lithium-ion batteries. In fact, it was the only company that showed running contemporary vehicles at an at-par standard with the fossil-fuel-using vehicles is truly possible.
Now, the company wants to change the energy consumption trends of modern households. In lieu of electricity, Tesla is betting big on renewable energy to light up the households at night and during the days. Elon Musk has already declared in 2015 that the company is going to launch a special type of lithium-ion battery that will be charged by renewable energy, such as Solar. This battery will have enough energy to run the daily tasks of a household currently performed by electricity.
Meet Tesla Powerwall, a wall-mounted lithium-ion battery about 4 feet tall by 3 feet size that looks like a stylish circuit breaker box. Powerwall comes in two energy storage options- 7 or 10 kilowatt-hours — which in general terms is enough energy to run a typical household for a few hours. Musk wants to exceed that limit as well. He has said in an address during the introduction of the battery that one day, this battery will be able to run the households completely. That means we can cut off the utility bills once we assemble the Powerwall and start using it.
The Tesla Powerwall (upper left) is a lithium-ion battery that provides enough electricity to operate a typical household for a few hours.
Tesla also has a 100-kwh version of battery called Powerpack which is capable of stacking together to power utility-scale installations. This is enough energy to run a mall or some other similar facility. Just think about the advantages -one-time installation cost, automatic functionality, no pollution, and others. It actually sounds like a magic wand of energy which can transform our world into a cleaner and more self-sufficient entity.
Here is a simple diagram to understand the battery’s functionality:
The Powerwall battery gets charged with electricity generated by the solar panels or from the utility grid. Then, an inverter converts the direct current (DC) electricity into the alternating current (AC) used generally by electrical appliances and devices in a home.
By converting solar energy from just being a sporadic source to a very useful and dependable one, Musk wishes to wean us off fossil fuels. It is a great leap of technology into a completely new and uncharted territory. This will not only decrease our dependence on polluting fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum but infact, we will get a natural and very abundant source of energy which will help us meet energy needs in a simple and efficient manner.
There are antics too. Forbes, in a commentary, has already called the Powerwall to be “just another toy for rich green people.” The honour seems to be justifiable. $ 3,000 is not something which can be termed ‘mere’, but the promises of the battery are overwhelming. Moreover, as one needs no other costly device to augment the process, the rich, green toy is promising enough to light up the world.
The most important of the unspoken promises of Powerwall is the reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels. As mentioned earlier, fossil fuels are decreasing at an alarming rate. The sources of fossil fuels lie inside the crust of the planet; hence digging them out creates enough possibility to alter the ecosystem of the planet’s crust. Of course, the extractors do pay attention to reimburse the loss, but often, the reply to the ‘too heavy’ extraction is insufficient.
Musk is not a person to be taken lightly. His vision has helped change the very deep concepts of many industries. Not very long ago, lithium-ion batteries were a source of power for laptops and cell phones for only a few hours. Tesla used them in cars and showcased nearly 300 miles out of a single charge. This was a feat that changed the perception about electric cars in the automobile industry. Now Musk is betting on a renewable energy future that can keep us lighted even when the world goes dark at nights.