Just last week, innovative entrepreneur Elon Musk introduced what is expected to be the next wave of products in the solar-power revolution: Tesla Motors Inc TSLA 2.76%‘s Powerwall home battery line. However, according to a new report by Bloomberg, the new Tesla batteries have a major problem: they don’t work well with rooftop solar panels.
Shunned By SolarCity
Musk himself serves as chairman of SolarCity Corp SCTY 1.28%, the largest U.S. solar panel installer. However, SolarCity has decided not to install Tesla’s 7kWh Powerwall battery optimized for daily use.
SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass explained that the new battery “doesn’t really make financial sense” to install because of current U.S. regulations allowing current solar customers to sell extra electricity back to the grid.
SolarCity customers can currently buy a Tesla battery outright for $7,140, but the return on the investment is minimal. A single battery puts out only 2 kilowatts of continuous power, a supply that could be maxed out by a single vacuum cleaner or microwave oven.
Tesla anticipated the need for more power and designed the new Powerwall batteries so that they can be easily stacked. Unfortunately for consumers, SolarCity offers no discount for multiple batteries. In other words, for customers to generate the same 16 kilowatts of continuous power that a $3,700 Generac generator produces, they would have to lease eight Tesla batteries at a cost of $45,000 for nine years.
Laying A Foundation
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Tesla will likely be making very little profit, if any, on Powerwall batteries in the near future. For now, the batteries will serve more as a luxury item for consumers rather than a practical economic energy solution.
However, both Tesla and SolarCity are likely more concerned with laying the foundation for the future of the energy industry than with short-term profits. The next step in the energy revolution will take place when Tesla opens its new $5 billion battery factory in Nevada as soon as next year.
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