Power Progress

Elon Musk of the Tesla car fame is leveraging the battery technology for the car into much bigger stuff — wall batteries for home storage of solar power.

Calling it the “missing piece” in the renewable power revolution, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on Thursday unveiled the electric automaker’s latest products — batteries big enough to power homes, businesses or communities.

Paired with rooftop solar panels, Tesla batteries promise the ability to tap the sun’s energy, day or night. They could upend the way we produce and use electricity. And at a nighttime ceremony powered entirely by stored sunlight, Musk cast the batteries as essential to ending the reign of fossil fuels and fighting global warming.

“It’s the only path I know that can do this,” Musk told a crowd gathered at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne (Los Angeles County). “It’s something we must do, and we can do, and we will do.”

SFChron: David Baker

And even better, he is not alone.  Baker cites several others working on similar small scale power storage technology:

Oakland solar company Sungevity announced its battery offering on Wednesday, teaming up with Germany’s Sonnenbatterie to supply the equipment. Petaluma’s Enphase Energy, which makes microinverters for solar arrays, is testing a battery system that it plans to release next year. SunEdison, in Belmont, bought solar-battery startup Solar Grid Storage last month. And SolarCity, whose corporate board Musk chairs, has installed Tesla’s battery packs in a handful of its customers’ homes.

Of course one wants to know the full cradle-to-grave cost of such batteries, and what by products and unintended consequences might ensue.  If the numbers and the first models all work out, all I can say is that public power companies will have to re-think their business models.  The service of distributing power will remain, and some power generation, but far less in the next 50 years than in the previous 50.

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And, some of the energy pumped into those batteries could well come from food waste – a 34 million ton per year problem in the U.S.  We’re glad to see the Cleveland Indians out in front on this one.

At Progressive Field, Mr. Gholston and the other dishwashers feed loads of food waste into the InSinkErator grinder, which is about 13 to 20 times as powerful as home models. The milkshake-consistency slurry that results from the discarded fruit and vegetable peelings, uneaten pasta, used cooking grease or leftover hot dogs that cannot go to a food bank is then pumped into a 3,000-gallon tank.

Once the tank signals to Grind2Energy that it is full, Quasar is alerted to send a truck to take the mass to its plant, where it is put into giant anaerobic digesters full of bacteria that break down the slurry. The system captures the released gas, which is then converted into electricity for the grid or transportation fuel. The leftover solids become fertilizer.

There is also a similar, pilot program being run by East Bay MUD 

Unloading Food Waste at EBMUD

Unloading Food Waste at EBMUD

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