Tesla’s Powerwall Puts Huge Crack in Carbon-Based Energy Dominance

“I think we should collectively try to do this, and not win the Darwin Award.” — Elon Musk

*   *   *   *   *

This week, with much fanfare, Elon Musk’s Tesla launched a new venture — Tesla Energy.

It’s a move that propels Telsa into direct competition with giant fossil energy companies. One that promises to disrupt the global power markets and to free a vast number of consumers now held captive to home and transport based fossil fuel energy use. An offering that provides a glimmer of hope for an escape path out of our current nightmare of an ever-heating global climate.

(Elon Musk presents Powerwall together with a nice, succinct summary of our current carbon emissions crisis.)

Freeing the Fossil Fuel Energy Slaves

As with Tesla’s earlier electric vehicle offerings, its new energy product seems humble. But don’t let looks fool you, because this little beast packs one hell of a wallop. Dubbed Powerwall, the offering is a scalable battery storage system. In its home energy incarnation, it comes in trim dimensions — 7 inches thick in a 4×3 foot stack. For homeowners, it provides two options — 7 kwh of storage for 3,000 dollars or 10 kwh of storage for 3,500 dollars. A low-cost, high quality offering that will allow individual and family solar users to say to hell with the grid, contentious fossil fuel interest muddied utility politics, and any coal or gas fired powerplants if they so choose.

Both stacks provide more than enough storage to get the average homeowner through a night’s electricity usage, with the 10 kwh stack providing a bit more flex. The stacks also provide back-up for grid tied homes during power outages. It’s enough flexible storage to run virtually any home on solar + battery power alone. That’s the real, revolutionary aspect of this system — cheaply and seamlessly providing homeowners the means to run on all-renewable power, all the time.

Tesla Powerwall

(Tesla Powerwall [upper left] and Model S. Image source: Tesla Energy.)

When combined with the ever-less-expensive and more reliable home solar arrays now becoming more readily available, this combination now poses not only a threat to fossil fuel based grid and vehicular energy — it represents a superior option to energy users on practically every level. Energy costs go down, reliability during storms goes up, and environmental impacts — carbon emissions, water use, and energy use based air pollution — go down or are virtually eliminated.

Massive New Market for Tesla

From a business standpoint, this is a huge breakthrough for Tesla. Previously, the company competed in a market rife with rivals. Still, it managed to succeed and even dominate by offering some of the highest quality vehicles in the world. Vehicles that pushed sustainability for the automotive industry toward new frontiers and provided a threat to both internal combustion and fuel cell based autos all in one go. But now, Tesla enters the power storage market with practically no comparable rivals. Its Powerwall is both the lowest cost and the highest quality storage solution available and it breaks new ground in an established, multi-billion dollar home energy market.

In an article today in Scientific American Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, noted:

“If Tesla can produce a cost-effective home energy storage system, it could prove far more valuable, and profitable, than anything the company is doing with automobiles.”

Intermittency Constraints Reduced, Hitting Renewable Economies of Scale

Tesla’s Powerwall shatters the myth that renewable energy can’t effectively function due to its intermittency. That renewables require high price storage options to provide energy 24/7. Tesla’s offering enables 24/7 renewable power at low cost. The option it provides is scalable to utility level, and its modular construction leverages renewable energy’s distributed power advantages. It’s a complete game changer that should have fossil fuel execs quaking in their boots and those of us concerned about climate catastrophe feeling a bit more optimistic.

Rendering of Tesla Gigafactory

(Rendering of Tesla Gigafactory due to be complete before 2020 — the first of possibly many such gigantic battery producing facilities. Image source: Tesla Motors/Chamber of Commerce.)

Recent statements by Musk indicate that the new energy industry wildcard is ready to go all out for both new homeowner and utility customers. The company mentions one major utility that is already interested in a 250 megawatt battery storage buy. And Tesla plans to work with partner Solar City in developing comprehensive home solar + storage options.

Finally, the synergy between the Powerwall and the electric vehicle battery should not be missed. Large scale production of Powerwall will serve to leverage economies of scale and drive down battery costs both across the energy storage and electric vehicle sectors. Tesla is planning for this through the construction of not just one but multiple gigafactories — assembly plants capable of producing hundreds of thousands of battery packs each (See Tesla Gigafactory May be First of Many). And, even more impressive, Tesla plans to provide its patents to other players looking to rapidly scale battery production. It’s a nightmare scenario for fossil fuel companies, but a much more hopeful one for the rest of us. A bit of much-needed good news in an otherwise grim present.

Links:

Tesla Energy

Elon Musk Unveils Stored Sunlight in Batteries

Tesla Gigafactory May be First of Many

Tesla Motors/Chamber of Commerce

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to Robert in New Orleans

Leave a comment

144 Comments

  1. I hear Lord Carrington laughing at us from his grave.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

    Reply
  2. Greg

     /  May 1, 2015

    Robert,

    Thank you for this great piece. I was positively giddy when I saw this presentation and for a while afterwards. I think I was attracted to the true leadership witnessed here and the vision for a realistic major part of a path forward against FF. The humbleness of this presentation given all that is at stake and how much risk he is willing to take on. Great times call for great leadership. His game is so uniquely American. Our technological society must win at the technology piece of this war even while so much is needed in the social, cultural, political, agricultural, etc. arenas. The Pope fills his role and the President his and so on but Elon’s contribution may end up being bigger as he’s the game changer. He makes it look almost fun and exciting to battle in the marketplace of ideas and technology for the greatest cause of our time. (Quick note, think you meant 250 mega watts not giga watts. Also first factory online late 2016, early 2017 with full buildup by 2020.)

    Reply
    • I thought I’d corrected that earlier! Thanks for the catch!

      Have to agree. Real leaders are starting to emerge. Humankind is starting to show it might deserve to survive this mess.

      Reply
  3. dnem

     /  May 1, 2015

    My 6.11 kW array puts out 30 – 40 kWh on a good day. Right now, my utility buys 100% of my excess at full retail rates, so I have zero incentive to buy batteries, other than blackout backup. And given that I pour excess back into the grid from around now (April/May) right through September, there is no way that batteries could ever be as good a deal as full retail net metering, as I’d need 100s of kWh worth of batteries to store up my summer excess. And, I run at a deficit all winter when sunlight is scarce and my electric heat pump provides heat, so I couldn’t go off-grid with my current array and the energy profile of my house, which is quite good. I guess having 10 kWh of local storage would help smooth out the net metering issues for the grid, which would allow more folks to have grid tied solar without stressing the grid too much.

    Reply
    • If the utilities have good net metering policies, like your area, then it’s a benefit to them and the grid. If it’s a region like Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, or Virginia where utilities have become adversarial to solar owners, then it’s a huge benefit to those who want solar or who want energy choice. If it’s a region that doesn’t have a grid, then it preferentially aids renewable use vs big power plants.

      Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 2, 2015

      Big implications for overseas. Places where the wires crisscross everywhere in the streets or where they have no wires at all and no light after the sun goes down. I think smaller versions of this pack with a solar cell and with some of the existing NGO’s and their creative financing models as partners of tesla, and similar battery companies, to deliver net zero solutions across the globe instead of charcoal and kerosene and diesel that is currently the only choice. As revolutionary as cell phones have been.

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  May 2, 2015

        Also could use the no longer transportation usable batteries, after 8-10 years of driving, for these places as they are still good for stationary batteries and this secondary market would be a win win as the costs would be even lower for developing countries.

        Reply
  4. Doug

     /  May 2, 2015

    We just got solar panels on our house on Monday! Very excited. In anyone else is thinking about it, now seems like a good time before the federal tax credit is due to expire at the end of 2016: that’s a 30% reductn in the cost of your system folks, and your State may have other incentives as well.

    Reply
    • Fantastic! Will be great to hear how things go for you, Doug. Huge congrats and a thank-you as well! Have to agree that this is a great time to go solar. I see a few panels popping up around the neighborhood here and it makes me grin.

      Reply
  5. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 2, 2015

    I see this as a conversation starter, rather than a solution. Overall I perceive it as a positive, but not practical.

    a) I admire the potential impact of a new class of product which decentralizes power management. This should help people as well as utilities.

    b) It’s not a solution, but a step towards one and opens the subject.
    This takes massive amounts of lithium. If you check out the sources of lithium, you suddenly realize it is a finite resource in only a few locales worldwide. Now you have to pile massive globs of it on a ship from say, Bolivia. Then you run that ship up the coast to the deep water port in Reno, NV. Oh…wait the ocean doesn’t go there. So you pile it out onto diesel trains in Long Beach perhaps? Ok, now you run those up to Reno, NV. Making those snazzy looking mega wall warts needs plastics and metals, not found in Reno, NV. And the byproducts of the process (plastics, lithium, metals, etc…) are not so “green”.

    Economically, the end user cost is ~20 cents/kWh through the lifespan of the device (cycling). Grid power is ~10 cents/kWh. So power it up in off hours and use during day? That is now ~30 cents/kWh. Add solar panels and you are ~30 to 45 cents / kWh (depending on solar panels, financing etc…)

    This does not include the power inverter (~$4000).

    I view these items as guilt reducers for rich people who drive a Tesla car, a perfect companion for it (~$100k for the car alone. Whats another $7500?). Totally out of my league on cost.

    It is brilliant marketing. Catering to the guilt of rich people, and allowing them to pay their confessional penalty to Tesla. Bloody genius.

    All that aside, I still see it as a game changer and a positive. Because someone, somewhere thought “I should make those cheap for regular people”. And hopefully someone, somewhere thought “I should make those real cheap for the 3rd world folks who can’t afford ‘Tesla'”. And if all is perfect, they are in some bar penciling up such a solution on a napkin that one day will be viable for more people, then the rich, for a reason beyond narcissistic guilt.

    Reply
    • We have 400 years of lithium supply with current reserves on books and consumption and that’s basically without trying too hard to find it. Cost of lithium raw material in battery production is now 2 percent. The cost could quadruple, spur exploration and production and still not materially impact battery price. The primary challenge will be scaling the supply chain. And, as we’ve seen with silicon, that’s doable. The National Laboratories think so, at least. And I tend to agree.

      One example of an emerging synergy is geothermal lithium production which then feeds battery production.

      The tech is game-changing given its price, the ambition to rapidly scale, and a pathway for that kind of scaling.

      Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 2, 2015

        I hope it catches on, and the prices drops to the point it is stupid not to get one.

        Reply
    • Apneaman

       /  May 2, 2015

      I bet the good folks in Bangladesh will be lining up for the first units.

      Reply
  6. Doug

     /  May 2, 2015

    Another Carrington Event was recently calculated as having a 12% chance of happening PER DECADE. We’ve probably just been lucky it hasn’t happened since 1859. Are you sure Robert we would be better off not being tied to a grid if and when another Carrington Event happens? I would just guess if electrical systems fried around the World, then fixing a grid tied system would be a hell of a lot easier than suddenly every homeowner needing to replace their solar panels. Think how long it would take to ramp up production of solar panels to meet that need…. I also read recently that it would be incredibly cheap to make fixes to the grid to withstand another Carrington Event. Not sure that could apply to solar panels, and the electrical systems homeowners and businesses would have, doing it on their own.

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 2, 2015

      If one of those happens, then the gigs up. Civilization wold not supersede the will to survive. And if you look at the umpteen millions in cities, with no resources that do not require trucks, trains, pumps and pipes it become apparent that 30 days without power reduces those populations to the basic needs (food, water, shelter…and I now add protection).

      Reply
    • Well, it’s the big, centralized power plants spinning down and melting their turbines that really kills the grid in such an event. Transformers going off like fireworks and all the grid lines just soaking up the pulse like a big electrical fish net. Centralized grid is about as vulnerable as you can get and it’s very tough to harden. Solar panels themselves are not as vulnerable as large wire systems. Batteries are less vulnerable than transformers and they’re easier to harden if you want to do planning/mitigation.

      The Achilles heel, though are the transformers. The other equipment is far less likely to be damaged during a powerful solar storm. Hence the grid’s glaring vulnerability.

      Reply
  7. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 2, 2015

    It looks like purchasing your own stable of politicians is profitable.

    By gutting NASA’s earth sciences, there is no data. Without data there is no evidence or information. Without these, the population is oblivious to the train in the tunnel.

    I gather politicians are now referred to as investments?

    http://mashable.com/2015/05/01/nasa-budget-cuts-earth-science/

    Reply
    • Apneaman

       /  May 2, 2015

      Were past the science Andy. This is just desperation. Even most deniers know, they are just more devoted to their ideology than reality.

      Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 2, 2015

      Yup Doug, it is much worse than people realize. Yesterday I calculated depletion at 2 inches per day for the last couple of weeks. At 1079.5 feet, that 54 inch margin will last 27 days at the current rate.

      Lake Powell is not refilling for squat, and over Powell the snow pack is close to tied with 2012 for epic dismal.

      And then if one thinks of the V shape of a canyon, every foot lower holds less water….

      And at the current outflow / depletion rate that magic 1075 is hit by June. However, they’ll shutter the turbines before that.

      Reply
  8. “Tesla has been able to install more than 100 projects, really without anyone noticing,”
    Andrea James, analyst with Dougherty & Co. (Bloomberg News, April 22, 2015).

    Tesla has already installed its batteries in 300 California solar-powered homes.

    Wal-Mart has already installed Tesla batteries in eleven California stores with solar power.

    According to Wine Business Monthly, Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, California is in partnership with Tesla for battery storage and vehicle charging stations.

    Cargill plans to use a one-megawatt system with Tesla batteries for clean energy at its Fresno, California plant.

    The Temecula Valley Unified School District in Southern California is planning on use of Tesla batteries for their solar installations.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/24/tesla-tackles-global-warming/

    Reply
  9. – Once again a dark curtain of ignorance driven by evil intent descends across America by a Republican controlled US Congress. A mega holocaust by degrees.

    The GOP attack on climate change science takes a big step forward

    Living down to our worst expectations, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology voted Thursday to cut deeply into NASA’s budget for Earth science, in a clear swipe at the study of climate change.

    The committee’s markup of the NASA authorization bill for fiscal 2016 and 2017 passed on a party-line vote, Republicans in the majority. The action followed what appears to be a deliberate attempt to keep Democrats out of the loop. According to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the committee’s ranking Democrat, her caucus “did not even know [the markup] existed before last Friday. … After we saw the bill, we understood why.”

    As outlined by Marcia Smith at SpacePolicyOnline, the measure would cut NASA’s Earth science budget to at most $1.45 billion in fiscal 2016, from $1.77 billion currently — a cut of $323 million, or nearly 20%. Under some circumstances, the budget could shrink even further to $1.12 billion, a cut of nearly one-third. Compared with President Obama’s request for fiscal 2016, which is $1.95 billion, the proposal would amount to a cut of at least 26%.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-gop-attack-on-climate-change-science-20150501-column.html

    Reply
  10. – The Pacific Northwest will burn this year. It’s only a matter of when, and how much.

    Dry, Dead Wood Could Help Ignite Wildfires In Oregon And Washington

    The Interagency Fire Center released an outlook for the upcoming fire season on Friday. 2015 could be a big year for major wildfires in the Northwest.

    One important predictor of fires is the moisture level of dead wood, called the “fuel moisture value.” The value is measured at several sites across the state.
    -OPB

    Reply
  11. dnem

     /  May 2, 2015

    I’m sorry. I’m sure this is lovely technology, and will surely get better with further upgrades. If I did not have a b/u generator already, I’d slap one on my grid-tied solar house ASAP. BUT, I don’t see this as a game changer as it is not even playing in the right game. If the game we’re trying to win is delivering 24/7 “green” power to full scale, high-consumption western style lives to billions with a few more billion to be added soon, we all lose. This will be just another massive (MASSIVE!), unsustainable global industrial infrastructure. That said, high-quality storage is an important part of an intelligent wind-down of the global consumer machine and a hoped for return to a resilient, relocalized economy. But THAT remains the game we need to win, and we’re not even playing it yet.

    Reply
    • You’re right dnem.
      Anything, absolutely anything, will be proposed/attempted to keep the happy motoring, high-consumption lifestyle going a little longer.

      We should definitely keep an open mind about possible solutions to our predicament, but not so open that our brains fall out!

      Reply
    • Let’s be careful here. There’s a difference between a panacea and a game-changer.

      Low cost storage is a game-changer in that it vastly enables renewable energy adoption in regions that are not grid tied or in areas where the political environment is adversarial to renewables. It increases individual, business and community access and it breaks down the key intermittency barrier.

      Any renewable energy structure will have a far lower footprint than FF in that externalities and uses of key resources are reduced or eliminated. Of course, if the model is based on limitless growth in materials consumption, then it runs into problems. Of course, if we don’t bend the population curve down, then we run into problems.

      But specifically focusing on cheap energy storage, it’s a critical enabler in that it provides a powerful tool for individuals and communities to use in their own quests for sustainability. It provides a bit of a jailbreak for the captive consumer. It provides an out for countries that want to pull populations out of the dark, but don’t want to use climatologically deadly fuels. And it gives aid to those of us trying to push for zero fossil fuel burning.

      A late hour game changer. The questions, rationally asked, are — is it enough (probably not by itself)? And are we wise enough to use it well?

      Reply
  12. Michael Farrell

     /  May 2, 2015

    Actually, if cowpoke had a more comprehensive vocabulary, he might have used the word “misanthropist” rather than the nonsensical phrase “racist against all races”. Certainly, for those of us who believe that the cultural mores that dominate human societies, our anger at humanity’s foolishness can sometimes come across as a misanthropic hatred, even though that anger actually comes from a place of love. Perhaps our anger might be seen by some as the humanist’s more complex, reality-based version of the evangelist’s oft-stated nostrum: “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Our anger is understandable, I think, but it might also be counterproductive at time.

    Reply
  13. Robert, I hope I didn’t start anything detrimental to constructive discourse with my Lake Mead GOP “comment now in moderation”. I may have cut to the “quick” to quickly. (I do use the ‘e’ word a bit to easily.)
    But there are many known cultural, political and historical connections I drew upon. And I have thought about, and experienced aspects of some of my points.
    Peace
    DT

    Reply
    • DT

      Anything with even a whiff of anti-semetism goes. I honestly don’t know where this meme is coming from, but channeling anger in that direction is playing with social balefire.

      Reply
      • Thanks, Robert.
        I understand your very honorable position. “Better safe than sorry.”

        My point was not “anti-semetic”.
        It was just one group, with a past of extreme hardship, was now putting its future into the hands of a group (GOP, J. Bush, S.A.) who seem to be doing everything in its power to put everyone’s future at risk.

        Before I fled Santa Barbara, I did my best to defend my friendly landlord couple from greedy and callous real estate carpetbaggers who were preying on elderly, and aging, landlords.
        I owe many years of affordable housing to my landlord friends whom I respected and had affection for.
        The woman landlord had a numbered tattoo on her arm that was given to here by another power group.
        She was a stalwart of/for compassion.
        And she was going blind, and could see very little of the world around her.
        Earlier she had been quite adamant that her tenants had some nature. and greenery nearby to nourish the soul. I was grateful for that.
        Maybe she was fortunate that she couldn’t see trees and hedges dying around her.
        The real estate operatives didn’t care. Nor did the politicos.
        That’s just some personal stuff.

        On a historical note: through the years, I have studied The Holocaust,its victims, its operation, and the social and political conditions that made it possible, and perpetuated it.

        Engine emissions, from the burning of fossil fuel, was the first means of mass exterminations.
        That is a matter of record. The physics of it, you know.
        I worry for all of us when I see one group ignore its past and embrace another that is profiting from the use and production of a known poison.

        “Meme”– me? If I ever let myself be infected by any “meme” — then I’ve lost it!

        Peace
        DT

        Reply
        • It was definitely better safe than sorry. We can criticize violence and greed without attacking racial groups or making sweeping generalizations. It’s blindness and failure to see the other side that inflames ideology and perpetuates violence. Would like to try to reduce that if possible.

          Some who claim to be liberals have been far too careless in this regard. My opinion is that a bit of this is agitation.

      • Right, Robert.
        And I apologize for the distraction.

        Reply
  14. – Japan Tepco Fukushima

    Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima

    Like the proverbial canary in a coalmine, avian abundances may paint a grim picture of the effects of nuclear disasters on wildlife

    …Now, after four years surveying bird populations in 400 sites around Fukushima-Daiichi, Mousseau and his team have assembled a grim portrait of the disaster’s impact on local wildlife, using bird populations as a model system. Even though radioactivity has dropped throughout the region, their data show that bird species and abundances are in sharp decline, and the situation is getting worse every year.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/birds-are-tailspin-four-years-after-fukushima-180955134/?no-ist

    Reply
  15. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 2, 2015

    Drought forces California farms to stop pumping river water

    Court orders Farmers to stop pumping from rivers. Friday’s order includes farms and water users in 27,000 square miles. If they can drill wells, I’m certain they will. If not, they’ll be in a financial bind. Nobody wins.

    http://www.presstelegram.com/environment-and-nature/20150501/drought-forces-california-farms-to-stop-pumping-river-water

    Reply
    • Up against some tough water limits there in California. At least two more seasons of drought there. el Niño is ramping up, though. The question for California farmers is — does it shift far enough east to make a difference. If this is a mostly mid-ocean event, it could mean continued trouble. Pacific hot pool still in place even though the RRR has flattened.

      Great analysis, as ever, Andy.

      Reply
  16. Environmentalists have already been labelled “terrorists”.

    Watch “Confessions of an Ecoterrorist”

    Reply
  17. Acid rain, mud flows threaten Chile after volcanic eruption

    Though the latest eruption was not as strong as last week’s events, a forecast filled with rain brings the added threat of a devastating aftermath.

    Authorities have warned that heavy downpours would be enough to cause dangerous volcanic mudslides and mudflows, known as ‘lahars’, capable of wiping out homes, roads and anything else in its path.

    Acid rain is also possible given the amount of ash and noxious gas in the atmosphere. Toxins and pollutants in the rain would be detrimental to local plant and wildlife, water sources, and even have the potential to corrode metal and stone.

    -Story: The weather Network 050215
    – Photo: CBS This Morning Twitter 050115

    Reply
    • PHOTO: Eruption of Chile’s Calbuco volcano creating turmoil in the atmosphere from static charges, ionized air, volcanic ash, etc.
      AFP: Agence France-Presse (An outstanding press/photo organization.)

      Reply
  18. – Interesting bit on Russia’s Ukraine response to Siberia’s wildfire crisis:

    “It is a horrific scene,” Yelena Markova, a volunteer coordinator in Chita, the capital of Zabaikalsky Krai, which has also been hit by the disaster, told RFE/RL.

    “Horrific! Burned out cars and homes. All the buildings, the livestock. Burned-out farms and the bodies of the animals. Horrific. It is just elemental — impossible to convey in words. The city of Chita is enveloped in smoke. The surrounding forests are burning and there are many victims. Many people have lost everything.”

    ‘Everything In Donbas’

    But volunteer activists in St. Petersburg say their efforts to get much-needed food, medicine, and other supplies out to the disaster zone have run into obstacles.

    And one of the main reasons is that most of the Emergency Situations Ministry’s trucks are busy forming “humanitarian convoys” for the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.
    Russian Wildfire Relief Takes Backseat To Donbas Aid Convoys.

    Reply
  19. Reblogged this on THE ONENESS of HUMANITY and commented:
    Are you the type of person who gets excited when hearing of new, revolutionary, civilization-transforming energy technology?

    Reply
  20. entropicman

     /  May 3, 2015

    I wouldn’t get too excited about this. The price is high. In the UK diesel sells for €1.50 a litre, inclusive of 70% tax!

    Reply
    • Solar plus storage of this kind is 1/2 to 1/3 the price of current home diesel generation. Diesel generation is about the most expensive form of energy production you can find.

      Reply
  21. On the subject of future energy sources –
    “Peak Russia Peak USA means Peak World”

    http://peakoilbarrel.com/peak-russia-peak-usa-means-peak-world/#more-7651

    Reply
  22. Griffin

     /  May 3, 2015

    I went to see the latest “Avengers” movie with my daughter last night. It was nice to sit in the theater and listen to the kids shout with excitement at seeing the appearance of each character. Two of those, Mark Ruffalo and Don Cheadle, are big climate change activists. It was good to know that these kids will be looking up to those guys, and that they are using their platform to help raise awareness to a public that really needs to be woken up.

    Reply
  23. Griffin

     /  May 3, 2015

    Speaking of Mark Ruffalo, his work in helping to expose issues such as oil water being used on crops is commendable. Good to see the LA Times reporting on this.
    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-drought-oil-water-20150503-story.html#page=1

    Reply
  24. Conspicuously absent is a life-cycle analysis. How long do they last? How easy are they to recycle? What parts of the device cannot be recycled?

    Reply
    • 10 year warranty 15-20 year reasonable lifetime. Pretty much all components in a battery of this kind are either recyclable or have second generation uses. Any honest researcher can find these figures.

      Reply
  25. Colorado Bob

     /  May 3, 2015

    An increase in the rate of global mean sea level rise since 2010
    Abstract

    The global mean sea level (GMSL) was reported to have dropped 5 mm due to the 2010/11 La Nina and have recovered in one year. With longer observations, it is shown that the GMSL went further up to a total amount of 11.6 mm by the end of 2012, excluding the 3.0 mm/yr background trend. A reconciled sea level budget, based on observations by Argo project, altimeter and gravity satellites, reveals that the true GMSL rise has been masked by ENSO-related fluctuations and its rate has increased since 2010. After extracting the influence of land water storage, it is shown that the GMSL have been rising at a rate of 4.4 [plus/minus] 0.5 mm/yr for more than three years, due to an increase in the rate of both land ice loss and steric change.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL063902/abstract

    Reply
    • There we go! Now that’s what I was looking for. Bob, as ever, you rock.

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 3, 2015

        Ancient ice melt unearthed in Antarctic mud: 20-meter sea level rise, five million years ago

        Date:
        July 21, 2013
        Source:
        Imperial College London
        Summary:
        Global warming five million years ago may have caused parts of Antarctica’s large ice sheets to melt and sea levels to rise by approximately 20 meters, scientists report.

        The researchers, from Imperial College London, and their academic partners studied mud samples to learn about ancient melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet. They discovered that melting took place repeatedly between five and three million years ago, during a geological period called Pliocene Epoch, which may have caused sea levels to rise approximately ten metres.

        Scientists have previously known that the ice sheets of West Antarctica and Greenland partially melted around the same time. The team say that this may have caused sea levels to rise by a total of 20 metres.

        The academics say understanding this glacial melting during the Pliocene Epoch may give us insights into how sea levels could rise as a consequence of current global warming. This is because the Pliocene Epoch had carbon dioxide concentrations similar to now and global temperatures comparable to those predicted for the end of this century.

        Link

        Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 3, 2015

        Antarctic sea level rising faster than global rate

        Date:
        August 31, 2014
        Source:
        University of Southampton
        Summary:
        A new study of satellite data from the last 19 years reveals that fresh water from melting glaciers has caused the sea level around the coast of Antarctica to rise by 2cm more than the global average of 6cm. Researchers detected the rapid rise in sea-level by studying satellite scans of a region that spans more than a million square kilometers. The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet and the thinning of floating ice shelves has contributed an excess of around 350 gigatonnes of freshwater to the surrounding ocean.

        Link

        Some of this was obtained with the data from NASA hardware, which the current congress plans to “blind” by cutting their budget to the bone.

        Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 3, 2015

      Tack 4.4mm/yr on this for perspective: http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/SeaLevel/SL.1900-2015.gif

      Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  May 3, 2015

        4.4mm/yr equals 44cm/century 17.3inches per century…. and how soon will this be adjusted upwards? 1 meter a disaster for Nile Delta, Bangladesh, etc; and our momentarily current rate is now 44%of that.

        Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 3, 2015

      Gravity data show that Antarctic ice sheet is melting increasingly faster

      Date:
      April 30, 2015
      Source:
      Princeton University
      Summary:
      Researchers ‘weighed’ Antarctica’s ice sheet using gravitational satellite data and found that during the past decade, Antarctica’s massive ice sheet lost twice the amount of ice in its western portion compared with what it accumulated in the east. Their conclusion — the southern continent’s ice cap is melting ever faster.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150430191140.htm

      Reply
  26. Kevin Jones

     /  May 3, 2015

    And speaking of leadership, Time magazine just pointed out that if Hillary should win she would be the 2nd oldest President, behind Regan, to assume office. Bernie would be oldest.

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 3, 2015

      woops, this was in response to Roberts’ peak oil comments below

      Reply
  27. Kevin Jones

     /  May 3, 2015

    swan dive continues: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  May 3, 2015

    Inuit hunters drown on thin ice more & more , and world does not bat an eye , Dutch researchers drown and we learn that :

    A final voice recording posted online Tuesday by Cornelissen said: “Today was a good day.” describing the weather as surprisingly warm, “too warm actually,” saying that he ended up skiing in only his underwear and boots.

    “We think we see thin ice in front of us, which is quite interesting,” Cornelissen said. “And we’re going to research some more of that if we can.”

    http://churchillpolarbears.org/2015/05/dutch-sea-ice-researchers-presumed-drowned/

    It would be nice if Apple, Google, or Facebook , took some that ocean of cash they are sitting on , and shared it with Inuit hunters.

    Maybe even pay for Inuit guides for Dutch reseachers.

    Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  May 3, 2015

    Neven reports they saved the Dutch dog in this thread –

    Link

    Inuit hunters drown on thin ice more & more , and world does not bat an eye , Dutch researchers drown and we learn that :

    A final voice recording posted online Tuesday by Cornelissen said: “Today was a good day.” describing the weather as surprisingly warm, “too warm actually,” saying that he ended up skiing in only his underwear and boots.

    “We think we see thin ice in front of us, which is quite interesting,” Cornelissen said. “And we’re going to research some more of that if we can.”

    Link

    It would be nice if Apple, Google, or Facebook , took some that ocean of cash they are all sitting on , and shared it with Inuit hunters.

    Maybe even pay for Inuit guides for Dutch scientists?

    The real take away is the map @ 339. Xandra shared on the last thread . And how far north they were. One should not be exploring the Arctic in their under ware and boots in late April , just before they ski to their death.

    Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  May 3, 2015

    Watts will bunk with Hitler in hell.

    Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  May 4, 2015

    Amen,
    There were thousands of tons of horse shit everyday on every street in America,
    Henry Ford changed all that, In blink of an eye.

    Reply
  32. rustj2015

     /  May 4, 2015

    “Learning always implies an element of new experience. Otherwise our mental activities are bounded by the limits of memory, never to exceed them. We must keep ourselves open to new explanations and new experience if we are truly to live and learn.”
    Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

    Reply
  33. – 050315 Smoke from Siberian and North Korea wildfires visible in the atmosphere, Portland, OR USA, sunset.

    Reply
  34. Spike

     /  May 4, 2015

    Up to 400mm of rain may fall in the ranges over the following 24 hours – closer to the amount that would fall in four months for most of New Zealand.

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11443064

    Reply
  35. Phil

     /  May 4, 2015

    I have seen on Arctic Sea Ice Forum reports of the possibility of one or two cyclones in WPAC (either side of the equator) that could produced another significant WWB to reinforce the current EKW and any emerging El Nino tendencies.

    On Earth Null School, one has spun up and the other appears to be spinning up. However, they are not aligned parallel to each other as in the previous event involving Cyclone Pam. However, will be interesting to see what eventuates.

    Reply
    • Near gale force WWB in New Guinea region. Rather far west and not as intense as the Pam WWB. Still something to keep watching.

      Reply
  36. http://www.npolar.no/en/projects/details?pid=b98886ce-590a-48a8-b113-4b96e98c65c8

    Norwegian Young sea ICE cruise (N-ICE2015)
    Primary objective: To understand the effects of the new thin, first year, sea ice regime in the Arctic on energy flux, ice dynamics and the ice associated ecosystem, and local and global climate. Secondary objectives: Understand how available ocean heat is mixed upwards towards the sea ice and to what extent it influences the sea ice energy budget. Understand the fate of solar radiation incident on the first-year sea ice in the region and how its fate is affected by properties of the atmosphere, snow, ice, and ocean. Quantification of the changing mass balance of Arctic sea ice and its snow cover. Model the dynamics of the drifting ice. Understand the ice associated ecosystem and model future changes. Effects on local and global weather systems.

    Reply
  37. Denninger does the math and destroys Powerwall.
    And he’s right!

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=230095

    And mining lithium is an ecological disaster.

    Reply
  38. rayduray

     /  May 4, 2015

    Hi Robert,

    I’m a bit mystified. I just added a comment including a couple of URLs and instead of seeing it at the bottom of my page, it’s about 30 comments above, buried for all practical purposes. Is there any way to bring that item down out of the clouds?🙂

    Thanks in advance for looking into this.

    Reply
    • The comments are a bit out of format for this one. Unfortunately, there’s not too much I can do, Ray. Sorry for the troubles.

      Reply
  39. US braces itself for even worse wildfire season

    “I wish I could have some hope,” says Dr Wally Covington, director of the Ecological Restoration Institute at North Arizona University. “It’s just a terrible situation in southern California.”

    http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/us-braces-itself-for-even-worse-wildfire-season/

    Reply
  40. rayduray

     /  May 4, 2015

    Scientific America re-publishes a Nature magazine reply to Elon Musk’s announcement about Tesla Energy. This Nature study largely confirms what others have been saying about the Tesla announcement being well presented, but hardly a revolutionary step in tje development of renewable energy.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-tesla-s-battery-for-homes-change-the-energy-market/

    Reply
    • If the batteries are priced as advertised, it’s a huge drop in cost, which is revolutionary.

      Reply
      • It seems to me that the big game-changer here may be the 10-year warranty, even more than the low price. As Tom Murphy pointed out a few years ago, lead-acid battery banks may be finicky and require some attention to maintain.
        http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/12/death-of-a-battery/

        I’m envisioning a hybrid system (battery backup with grid tie), either leased or with a full warranty, where the first failure in a -standard- part (a panel, a battery cell, the inverter) is communicated to the managing organization. Before you even know something’s up, the truck shows up with the (refurbished) replacement, and yours goes back to the shop to have the specific cell identified, replaced, and the unit prepared for the next cycle.

        Reply
      • Andy in YKD

         /  May 5, 2015

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

        “In the 1980s, economists Daniel Khazzoom and Leonard Brookes revisited the Jevons paradox in the case of a society’s energy use. Brookes, then chief economist at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, argued that attempts to reduce energy consumption by increasing energy efficiency would simply raise demand for energy in the economy as a whole. Khazzoom focused on the narrower point that the potential for rebound was ignored in mandatory performance standards for domestic appliances being set by the California Energy Commission.

        In 1992, the economist Harry Saunders dubbed the hypothesis that improvements in energy efficiency work to increase, rather than decrease, energy consumption the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate. Saunders showed that the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate was consistent with neo-classical growth theory (the mainstream economic theory of capital accumulation, technological progress and long-run economic growth) under a wide range of assumptions.[5]”

        Reply
  41. D Joseph Benedict

     /  May 5, 2015

    Calling all physics and chemistry students, electrical engineers and EE students…

    Here’s a tip I hope can be useful to you. Understand that I am not scientist or a student of science. I’m recalling this from memory as well as I can. I do not know how to set up or conduct this experiment.

    Here’s what you’ll need for this experiment:

    – Deuterium (Qty: unknown)
    – Gallium (Qty: unknown)
    – A containment where in both of those elements can exist without restraint (reactivity is unknown to me).
    – Apparatus to detect and measure electrical currents emanating from the immediate vicinity of the reagents.

    What to expect:

    A measurable electrical current should detectable within the gallium in the presence of deuterium. Again, I do not know how to locate either the anode or the cathode.

    Documentation from the day (circa. 1980) indicates that the reaction can be excited using microwave radiation. If fact, the original inventor’s design was called “the magnatron motor”. It was a self-generating energy cell using the reaction described above to produce enough electrical current to drive a fork lift motor attached to an automobile transmission and power train in place of a gasoline engine. The news articles of the day (Chicago Sun Times, Elgin Daily Courier-News) reported that this set up outperformed a 390 cubic inch V8.

    Be Advised:
    This process may be protected by patents closely held by dangerous people. The original inventor and his invention “disappeared” in the early 1980s on his way to present it to a prospective client looking to replace diesel engines in the prospect’s vehicles. Google “Johnson Magnatron Motor”. His demise is typically attributed to everyone from OPEC to the DoE.

    Reply
  42. Jeremy Lansman

     /  May 5, 2015

    Robert. Is the Tesla battery cost effective? Do the math. Take total installed cost, kWh storage ( properly discounted considering aging, protective limits, and real life practical utilization) times the number of full cycle charge-discharges over the battery life time. As well there is the round trip power loss, which varies according to the rate of charge-discharge. To derive a meaningful cost per kWh you must consider total system investment, then the future value of money now not available for other purposes. When you do the math the cost, for most people, is too high to make sense.

    Since electricity rates and usage patterns are not the same in every location, it can make sense. But probably not. I would point out the cost of storing daytime solar electricity is as much a problem for grid operators as for you.

    Also consider Aquion battery technology.

    Reply
    • OK, Jeremy. Let’s consider a few numbers.

      1. The cost of a home battery system prior to this Tesla offering was in the range of 10,000 dollars for a similar level of storage. With peripherals, this is looking to be a 50 percent price reduction which is revolutionary by itself.

      2. Where is this economically competitive now? This depends on how sunny the region is (assuming solar plus battery) and cost of grid electricity. Looking at a 10 year warranty, let’s be conservative and say the battery lasts only 2 years past warranty. Let’s assume a 50 percent average daily cycle per battery. And let’s assume 500 dollar per kWh system costs. That’s 2100 cycles or about 24.5 cents per kWh. This undercuts grid electricity in Australia, Germany, and Hawaii easily. It puts it right on the line in California now, probably New Jersey too. In about 10-15 percent of the power market that is easily break even or below. So at the initial price point, which will continue to fall with scaling and competition, it is already able disrupt a good portion of the market.

      Now the grid storage option is now running at 250 dollars per kilowatt at large scale and that combined with current low solar and wind prices makes gas and coal look a lot less attractive…

      Definitely revolutionary on price — and we are just getting started.

      Reply
      • Jeremy Lansman

         /  May 5, 2015

        As my computer was stolen, I have not kept records of the many things I have read as I learn the scope of a proper financial analysis. I found this paper to be extremely helpful in understanding the complexity. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0196890414008929
        I did ask for the software, and wish to get help adapting the MATLAB code to include other battery options, as well as analysis of microgrid configuration options. You see, my interest is in setting up a neighborhood microgrid. But….

        A couple of things occur to me that you should consider; Future value of money; diminished storage capacity of the battery with time (of course it will “outlast” warranty, but each cycle of use reduces its kWh capacity. I think the warranty is 80% at the end, so then we must reduce capacity not only x.8 for protection, but some additional factor to be used over its life.). Reduced capacity increases LCOE.

        There has been interesting discussion on the Tesla forum. I highly recommend that as well. http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/showthread.php/46756-Elon-I-love-you-but-the-PowerWall-isn-t-that-great-yet.

        Why microgrid? Maybe a grid coop could have access to some picohydro and good wind thus reducing need for battery and diesel backup.

        By the way, anyone really good on Linux security internals who could help me restore my computer from deja-dup backup?

        Reply
  43. This is really great news. Thank you for this, Robert! Elon Musk is just the type of visionary we need, with the resources to match, to really get substantial amounts of customers off of fossil fuels. Great price point, easy to use…it seems to surmount all the traditional barriers to widespread adoption by typical consumers.

    Reply
    • It hits a broad enough market to be game changing. The initial low price is about a 50% drop from compatible home systems. Of course, this is just the beginning and prices should continue to fall as production scales.

      The 250 dollar per kWh 100 kW systems are also fantastic for micro grids and community solar.

      Lots of companies will follow and hopefully some will have offerings that provide a competitive edge and speed innovation. It’s worth noting that lithium isn’t the only material being employed for some of these advanced storage designs.

      To this point, I believe Tesla may have started a renaissance is energy systems. Just a year ago, some firms were still showing that affordable storage was 35 years off. Well, that point looks like somewhere between now and 2020 depending on where you live.

      Reply
  44. Tesla’s New Battery Doesn’t Work That Well With Solar

    Even Elon Musk’s SolarCity, the biggest supplier in the U.S., isn’t ready to install Tesla’s home battery for daily users

    Bloomberg: The bigger Tesla battery isn’t designed to go through more than about 50 charging cycles a year, according to SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass… “Our residential offering is battery backup,” Bass said in an e-mail.

    SolarCity is only offering the bigger Powerwall to customers buying new rooftop solar systems. Customers can prepay $5,000, everything included, to add a nine-year battery lease to their system or buy the Tesla battery outright outright for $7,140. The 10 kilowatt-hour backup battery is priced competitively, as far as batteries go, selling at half the price of some competing products.

    But if its sole purpose is to provide backup power to a home, the juice it offers is but a sip. The model puts out just 2 kilowatts of continuous power, which could be pretty much maxed out by a single vacuum cleaner, hair drier, microwave oven or a clothes iron. The battery isn’t powerful enough to operate a pair of space heaters; an entire home facing a winter power outage would need much more. In sunnier climes, meanwhile, it provides just enough energy to run one or two small window A/C units.

    Reply
  45. Jeremy Lansman

     /  May 7, 2015

    Yes Greyson Smythe, and Robert Scribbler. Be especially skeptical of press release internet buzz. My understanding, as limited as it is, is that the 7 kWh model just might cost a lot less than I think. But….. big fat but… There is no real data released, not yet. We need to see curves showing decrease in capacity over time, temperature change, change in power round trip loss against rate of charge-discharge, and more. Also needed, as I say, system cost with calculations of LCOE with NPV of money included. Solar City will probably be able to keep subsidies, thus make serious dough. However, it is in there and provoking my deep interest.

    Reply
  46. daniel zamir

     /  May 23, 2015

    I hope the talk about climate change, globally, becomes much more technology focused. First, because in terms of what we are most lacking for right now is a cheap technological solution, and second, because it de-politisizes the issue. I recommend looking up Sakti3 and other solid state Li-Ion companies that really can bring that $100/kWh (cell level) within less than a decade.
    I’d argue the most important climate change policy at the moment is the “Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program” (from the DOE).

    Reply
  1. Tesla’s Powerwall Puts Huge Crack in Carbon-Based Energy Dominance | Artic Vortex

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