Tesla Motors have just announced the launch of a product that will revolutionise the supply of energy to the whole world. In a few short years the world can be free of its reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Oil wars will be a thing of the past! This is definitely something worth reporting on for an agency that focuses on peace and nonviolence.
The statistics vary according to what sources you read and believe, but it is clear that the costs for producing solar power are decreasing rapidly and are bringing the potential for more and more geographic regions to convert to it. Anyone driving through southern Germany for instance, a frequently cloudy and rainy part of the world, will already know that it must be economically viable to run off solar power there as the countryside and rooftops of the towns are covered in a patchwork of shiny metallic panels.
The biggest problem for the fans of renewable power however has been the problem of how to store the energy for use when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Peak electricity demand is first thing in the morning when everyone makes their coffee and breakfast and in the evening when everyone is home from work making dinner and watching TV. The sun is strongest between these two times of the day.
Tesla has solved this problem though and it is this revolution in battery technology, together with their commitment to release the knowledge to the world that will surely change the way we consume energy forever.
The battery launched last week costs US$ 3500 for a 10kWh model (good enough for domestic purposes), is guaranteed for 10 years and is mounted on a wall, either internally or externally. Higher-demand users can buy extra packs and fit them together. They work between -20 C and 43C so will function in most places. The dimensions are 1.3m x .86m x .18m, so not bulky, and they come in a variety of colours! The only down side appears to be the fact that they weigh 100 kg!
In the launch presented by company Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, the theme of scalability was stressed by showing how such systems can be configured to power businesses and even entire towns and cities.
The potential this technology has is enormous. The planet is on the edge of a climate crisis and the vast majority of climate scientists believe carbon dioxide plays a major role. Rolling out renewable energy systems and battery technology has the power to put a stop to carbon dioxide emissions in the next decade or so and give the trees a chance to absorb the excess amounts in the atmosphere. Poisonous nuclear energy can be eradicated, leaving us only with the small problem of how to guard radioactive nuclear waste for 250,000 years.
Is it really possible to convert to renewable energy? Well, maybe yes. When mobile phones first came out, within a generation they became ubiquitous. The remotest villages in the poorest countries have mobile phones, and of course they all have renewable energy sources. Throw in some battery packs and these places can be self-sufficient in terms of energy.
Musk threw out some numbers to show how to convert the world to stored energy solutions. 160 million packs would drive the USA, 900 million would power the whole world. With 2 billion, not only is electricity supply resolved, but all the world’s vehicles are converted off fossil fuels.
“That may seem like an insane number… Is that a crazy number? It is not in fact. The number of cars and trucks that we have on the road is approximately 2 billion and every 20 years that gets refreshed. There’s 100 million cars and trucks made every year. This is within the power of humanity to do.”
The CEO conceded that Tesla wouldn’t be able to meet the demand for batteries but he added, “This is not something that Tesla will do alone. The Tesla policy of open-sourcing the patents will continue.” Many other companies will be able to enter the market and develop their own solutions.
These Tesla batteries are based on lithium ion technology, but battery technology is not limited to this metal, news of aluminium batteries has appeared this year which could allow battery technology to take an even bigger leap forward. In tests at Stanford University and reported in the magazine Nature, an aluminium battery was invented to power a mobile phone that could be recharged in one minute!
Aluminium is much cheaper than lithium and the metal is flexible and resistant to catching fire. The age of bendable mobile phone is on the horizon. Batteries just became great fun!