Tesla and the electric vehicle battery tipping point: Are we there yet?

Tesla and the electric vehicle battery tipping point: Are we there yet?

The Tesla Model S
ShutterstockThe Tesla Model S2014
Tesla, the luxury electric carmaker, plans to expand production of batteries beyond vehicles to residences.

Tesla plans to enhance its stamp on the smart grid industry — but this time it will be from the home.

The company already has a significant market in the electric vehicle (EV) industry, but is working on a battery that can power residences. The company, and CEO Elon Musk, made the announcement on a recent investor call.

Musk said that designs for the battery will be available to the public in the next few months and could be in production within six months.

"It's really great. I'm really excited about it," he said.

Tesla hopes the battery can work similarly to that of a solar panel — storing energy and allowing customers to sell excess back to their energy company.

In May, Musk spoke about the possibility of a home battery, telling Forbes, "We are trying to figure out what would be a cool stationary (battery) pack. Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directional inverter and plug and play."

The company is working fast on its plan, building its own large factory — which they call a "gigafactory" — that is expected to cost around $4 billion to $5 billion. It has broken ground in Nevada, and will be partnering with Panasonic.

Tesla also works with SolarCity, a company that has taken Tesla's batteries and integrated them into its solar panels. Musk is the cousin of one of SolarCity's founders, as well as being the company's chairman.

Tesla's home battery announcement follows its May announcement, where Musk had said it would solidify its home battery release by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.

"A lot of utilities are working in this space, and we're talking to almost all of them," Tesla Chief Technical Officer J.B. Straubel said. "It's early stage stuff and a lot of these projects are very far out since the procurement cycle for utilities is so long. But this is a business that certainly is gaining an increasing amount of our attention."

Although many companies are working on the technology, Tesla's announcement has shown it is at the forefront of the technology. According to the Washington Post, Morgan Stanley wrote last March: "There may be a 'tipping point' that causes customers to seek an off-grid approach. The more customers move to solar, the remaining utility customer bill will rise, creating even further 'headroom' for Tesla's off-grid approach."

In its announcement, it sounds as if Tesla will move quickly on releasing its stationary battery. The company did not mention possible pricing when the battery is released.

This article originally appeared at Smart Grid News.

Tags: