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How Tesla Batteries Are Powering an Energy Revolution

Those Tesla Motors lithium-ion battery packs aren’t just powering electric luxury sports sedans for the 1 percent any more.

They’ve started appearing in a small number of California homes to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, and beginning today SolarCity, the Silicon Valley solar installer, will start providing Tesla batteries for businesses that want to cut their utility bills. A big box retailer like Walmart could charge up a Tesla battery pack with cheap energy produced by its SolarCity rooftop photovoltaic array and then tap that power when demand—and electricity rates—spike.

That would let them minimize paying their local utility high “demand charges” for electricity when they need it most. And the cost of the SolarCity’s system, called DemandLogic? Effectively zero, according to SolarCity, since the monthly payments for energy storage would be less than the money saved by not forking over cash to the utility.
The Great Energy Shift
An Atlantic Special Report
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And if that sounds like a threat to century-old monopoly utilities, it is. “Our business model is to become the energy company of the 21st century,” SolarCity chief executive Lyndon Rive told The Atlantic. “You’re still connected to the grid but the grid would be your secondary provider and the primarily provider would be your solar system and your storage device.”
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