October 2, 2022
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Tesla’s Powerwall and other home batteries are part of a bigger movement


Looks like everyone is talking about electric car batteries lately. Automakers are scrambling to make these batteries more powerful so they can persuade more people to buy EVs, and the Biden administration is spending billions to make the United States a manufacturing hub for next-generation battery technology. But even when EV batteries keep the spotlight wet, another type of battery is gaining momentum: the home battery.

The idea of ​​a home battery is simple. Just as a laptop battery powers a laptop when it is not plugged into an outlet, a home battery powers a home when it cannot receive power from a grid or renewable energy source. Thousands of people have already been installed Tesla Powerwall, Solar-powered home battery pack that provides a few hours of backup power. And extreme weather events, like last year’s devastating winter storm in Texas, have pushed the power grid to its limits, and even more consumers are starting to buy these and other types of home batteries.

The government is throwing its support behind similar upgrades to the power grid. On Tuesday, the Department of Energy said it would spend more than $ 3 billion from bilateral infrastructure legislation on EV batteries as well as batteries for long-term energy storage, including batteries that could one day power people’s homes and businesses. This money will fund projects focused on increasing the supply of key battery components in the United States, as well as developing the country’s overall battery production capacity. It is hoped that these investments will help the United States build more batteries that can be installed not only in people’s homes, but also in and around the grid, which will play a key role in reducing the growing pressure on the country’s aging energy infrastructure – and making it more Elastic.

“We need to build clean homes and start with fully electrified clean houses, which use batteries to stabilize their load and be part of a clean grid,” Ryan Brown, CEO of Small Battery Startup Seliant, told Record. “Otherwise, there is not a really good prospect for tackling climate change.”

This week, Celiant announced a partnership with Texas-based sustainable home builder Horton World Solutions to showcase its new zinc-ion battery technology. If all goes according to plan, companies will install these batteries in more than 200,000 homes over the next decade.

Home batteries vary in size and energy storage capacity, and although based on many well-known lithium-ion technologies, some take advantage of the persistence of using more abundant materials, such as zinc. Each battery – some people install multiple for more storage – is usually as big as a television and usually costs at least a few thousand dollars. Outside of Tesla, there are several large electronics companies like LG Chem and Panasonic – both of which are in the EV battery business – that sell home battery packs, as well as lesser known battery makers such as Celiant, Genarak and Enface.

Large batteries or large battery banks can simultaneously power many homes. Although these giant battery systems will not fit into a single residential building, they can be connected directly to a power grid or microgrid that powers an entire apartment building or neighborhood. Compared to a home battery in a single-family home, this type of setup allows people in an entire community to access electricity when electricity is unavailable or over-consumed – which is why some experts say they are a much more equitable approach. The future of energy.

Regardless of their scale, home batteries and other types of stationary batteries have become an important part of efforts to increase the world’s renewable energy supply in the fight against climate change. The reason is straightforward: since the sun is not always close to the energy of the solar panel and the power turbine does not always have wind, utility companies and individuals alike need batteries to store their renewable energy so that people actually have it when they need it. . Static batteries eventually extend the overall capacity of the grid, which is especially important because we are currently electrifying things powered by fossil fuels.

“We’re seeing the potential for electric vehicles and even heat pumps to replace gas reactors,” said Dharik Mallapragada, a research scientist at MIT’s Energy Initiative. “Batteries can come in handy there because they can vary the cost. Depending on how much you’re drawing from the grid.”

In addition to his administration’s latest investment in battery technology, President Joe Biden in March ordered the production of critical equipment necessary for static storage using the Defense Production Act, which he called “essential for national defense.” Some state governments, along with utilities, have started offering financial incentives for commercial battery banks as well as for people to buy home batteries. California has even updated its state power code to require batteries, as well as solar panels, to be installed in all new commercial and high-rise multifamily buildings.

“Over the next few years, everyone will realize that they need a battery,” Jehu Garcia, a battery reseller who runs a DIY YouTube channel about batteries, told Record. “It’s kind of an up-and-coming thing right now: who’s going to step in first?” Is it going to be homeowners, or is it going to be a utility? But it’s going to happen anyway. ”

Even the EV industry is investing in the static battery business. In addition to offering its Powerwall batteries to individuals, Tesla recently completed the construction of one of the world’s largest batteries for PG & E in Northern California and began work on another utility-scale battery outside Houston that could power 20,000 homes. CATL, a Chinese company that is arguably the world’s largest manufacturer of EV batteries, last month announced plans to build 900 battery systems for a Texas-based renewable energy company that would support the state’s disrupted power grid. Meanwhile, GM is designing its Ultium batteries so that they can eventually be reused for long-term energy storage, and Nissan announced earlier this year that it would test the same concept using its EV batteries at a power plant in Spain.

All of this represents progress, but it also serves as a reminder that all the batteries we can get may be needed. The International Energy Association estimates that in order to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need to increase the world’s battery storage capacity from 17 gigawatts by 2020 to 585 gigawatts by the end of the decade. This means that batteries can be ubiquitous – inside a human car, in the basement of an apartment building and on the site of a power plant. As daunting as this task may seem, it is only part of a more complex puzzle to figure out how to combat climate change.

This story was first published in the Recode newsletter. Register here So don’t miss the next one!


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