There has been a lot of buzz lately about a topic that doesn’t normally get a lot of buzz: battery backups. Specifically, the Tesla Powerwall battery. Immediately following the battery’s launch in early May, over 38,000 orders have poured in from peopleanxious to get their hands on the technology. Many of them will have to hang around on waiting lists until 2016.
But why the hype? Why Tesla? And why now?
For one, the federal solar tax credit (which includes battery backups paired with solar systems) expires at the end of 2016, so there is a limited amount of time to get those 30% rebates. Tesla has also paired with our favorite brand of inverter to deliver a highly efficient back-up system using the equipment you already own. And it’s the perfect complement to power Tesla’s other hype-worthy product, its sleek electric cars.
All true, you’re thinking, but battery backup is nothing new. Isn’t this just a better-looking, more expensive version of what already exists? I’ll admit, that was my first thought. But upon closer inspection, the Powerwall stacks up well against similar batteries when you compare the cost per unit of energy produced over the system’s lifetime. This is especially true for systems purchased from distributors (and installed by companies such as Joule Energy). Turns out, the company’s design aesthetic and marketing genius are lagniappe, helping shake the dust off of a previously underrated technology.
What this has to do with you depends on your individual circumstances, and how you expect to use that power. To get a better picture of whether battery backups are right for you, I’ve compiled a few reasons to get your building Tesla-ready, as well as one way that you can start the process now (so read all the way to the end).
1. Load Shifting
One of the few drawbacks to solar energy has been its intermittency, or the fact that solar systems can only produce power when the sun is shining. Your solar production may be timed perfectly with your operating hours, but there are many cases in which the sun isn’t shining during the hours when a building consumes the most energy. Many building owners also rely on net-metering, or selling back excess energy produced during the day, to make up this difference. However, net metering isn’t always available (see reason #3). Either way, if you want to use that renewable energy yourself, the Powerwall can store it during the day for use in the early morning or at night.
2. Disaster Protection
In the Gulf South, power outages from hurricanes (and sometimes from afternoon thunderstorms) are a real concern. And if your solar system is tied to the grid, a safety mechanism in your inverter will disable the system so that your building doesn’t cause a hazard for crews working on power lines. This can be frustrating, but is easily solved with a battery backup system, keeping your lights and computers running when your utility cannot.
3. No Net Meter Required
Many utilities allow solar system owners to sell generated power back to the grid at the same rate that they purchase it through a process called net-metering. This helps shorten a solar system’s payback period for those who use relatively little energy throughout the day.
However, some states allow utilities to impose a cap on the number of customers who can sell power back to the grid. Battery backups can be a great solution for customers of smaller utilities that have met their cap. And for everyone else, battery backups can also act as a hedge against future rate and net-metering policy changes.
Excited about the possibilities the Powerwall has to offer? Read below on how to get set up with a battery backup system for your building.
How to Get Started
If you have already gone solar: Great! Just call up your Joule Energy account manager with any questions you may have, and we will put you on a waiting list of clients who are interested in these systems.
If you are thinking of going solar: Call our office at 504-586-0625 and mention “Tesla Powerwall,” or reach out to us through our website. We will walk you through the process and update you on the timeline for the Powerwall's availability, as well as let you know if a solar system paired with battery backup is right for you.