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Why Tesla’s Powerwall is A Big Win For The Environment, And A Threat to NAPOCOR and MERALCO

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It’s a simple home battery that’s a gamechanger

A few days ago Tesla, the American company that’s known for making awesome looking electric vehicles, officially launched Powerwall, a battery system for the home. While using batteries for homes to store power from renewable sources like solar, Tesla’s one of the first companies that has made it dead simple for home owners to do so.

What sets Powerwall apart from the competition is the technology behind the batteries. For one, this isn’t the typical lead acid batteries that are used in construction sites and remote locations – the Powerwall uses state of the art lithium ion batteries – the same ones that they use in their electric cars. These power cells can charge and discharge thousands of times over a period of years with little to zero maintenance, which is a stark contrast to the conventional batteries that are used in our cars today.

Aside from the battery technology, the Powerwall is a smart system – home owners can set the batteries to charge when power is cheap during off peak hours so they can use that stored energy to cut back on their power bill during peak times. This will allow home owners to significantly lower their electric bills by paying for power at the cheapest rate available.
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But the Powerwall is the most useful when it’s wired up alongside a solar panel. See, most homes that have solar panels usually sell back the energy that they generate during the afternoon (where the solar cells are at their peak efficiency) to the power companies, since there isn’t an easy to use, commercial battery solution available to the public to store all that excess power. The entire point of going solar is to generate and save electricity when you need it, something that current generation tech can’t solve as of the moment. Tesla’s Powerwall solves that. By having the ability to save almost all of the electricity generated by solar panels during the day, homes and businesses can maximize the efficiency of renewable energy during the morning and evening – the two times of the day when demand is at its peak. The Powerwall can also act as backup power in areas that have unreliable power or spotty generation – which is exactly the case currently in many areas of Mindanao. Mass deployment of Tesla’s Powerwall in conjunction with solar panels can probably solve the ongoing energy crisis in Mindanao, which has bee plaguing the region for quite some time.

And while the technology is rather expensive ($3,500 for 10 kWh or Php 156483, $3,000 or Php 134128 for 7 kWh) Tesla’s efforts are far reaching, even in a country like ours that’s thousands of kilometers¬†away from the US. For one thing, economies of scale means that one day the technology will be cheap enough to be sold in power-starved countries like the Philippines without costing an arm and a leg. Heck, we’re sure that big players like SM and Ayala to name a few, are already eyeing Tesla’s Powerwall for their malls, buildings and commercial spaces in the Philippines. There’s already a big incentive from the government for these big players to go off grid (meaning, to generate their own power using generators or solar panels to relieve pressure from the electrical grid) – so it’s not so far-fetched that these companies would eventually implement Tesla’s solution. SM already has a pretty large investment in solar power in one of their malls – SM North EDSA is the world’s biggest solar-powered mall, and the company is making strides to integrate solar power into more properties this year. With enough Tesla Powercwalls, SM’s malls can probably cut their dependency on NAPOCOR and MERALCO¬†big time.

Tesla isn’t all about just making money off of this tech either. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, is committed to sharing his vision with the rest of the world – so much so that he has gone on record to say that all of their patents are now available to be used, by anybody and any corporation. This spirit of open source is obviously shared by Powerwall, which means any company can utlize Tesla’s patents without fear of litigation. More companies making competing devices = lower prices down the road

Tesla’s Powerwall is expensive, big and right now is only available to US customers come late Summer – but it’s an invention that may just turn out to be the solution to the power problems of the Philippines.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

10 Comments

      1. Says who? Apple. I bet they have a back up power called coal, and nuclear energy. Solar power is unreliable. It’s a no brainer, Apple knew that. No sun, no power.

        1. Nope they don’t have back up power, pure solar energy. You sound like the people of old times where they laugh when Galileo say that the earth isn’t flat. It’s understandable that cons will come out because Tesla’s powerwall is a new technology. From washing machine to smartphones, lahat ng bagong products ay nagkakaroon ng improvement. Stop with being too skeptic, appreciate what science and technology offer you.

  1. I dont think this is a loss for meralco nor napocor. Meralco has an existing program for alternative energy as mandated by RA9513. Whereas napocor needs to rethink how to use the most powerful fusion reactor available to us: the sun. Imagine if these companies forego their reliance on fossil fuels and just use free energy from the sun. The long term cost effectiveness and environment preservation will be a win for everyone.

  2. You know what, as expensive as they are right now, Meralco will just buy those batteries and sell the stored energy at a “reduced” price. Way to go Elon Musk..hehe

  3. first, napocor is no longer in the business of selling power in big cities, its all been passed to the private sector. there are only a handfull of solar home systems in the country that have applied for net-metering scheme which lets them sell power back to meralco. the general cost of solar home systems are relatively still out of reach for the regular filipino as it would generally take over 10 years to achieve return on investment. it takes roughly a year to finish feasibility studies for solar systems. solar panels are also quite difficult to maintain as they need to be wiped clean everyday to optimize generation. its probably a decade or two before the tech can be really mainstreamed. power generated from solar sources are still way more expensive than power generated from coal plants, about three to five times more expensive.

    but the powerwall can probably be better utilised for other renewable sources like wind generators or hydro plants, where power generated is even cheaper than coal.

    the sm solar plant at north edsa can barely generate enough power for its own consumption so i dont think the telsa powerwall can do any good yet.

  4. How come it’s a threat? Those batteries, solar panels – are you kidding? What they aren’t telling us (author does not know as well) is the power inverter. That thing that comes with the panel to make solar energy usable for electricity consumption. That same thing that needs to be plugged in to your outlet that gets energy from same Napocor, Meralco you are talking about. Mind you, panel and inverter are priced separately, and for majority (95%) of the Philippines population it cost an arm and leg. By the way, be on the look out, solar panels are now marketed by a certain networking company. It’s a same old f*cking business. Cdr king sells it too!

  5. but soon fossil fuels will expire and we need other resources to live, isa ito sa mga sa pwedeng alternatives pero maybe not now na kayang tapatan niya ang kuryente natin ngayon.

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