Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently unveiled the company’s new Powerwall battery system for homes and businesses, which is aimed at breaking the dependence on the conventional power grid.
The Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy for load shifting, backup power, and self-consumption of solar power generation.
Load shifting means charging the battery during periods when electricity is cheapest. You can then use the stored energy during peak times, when utilities may charge more for electricity.
The Powerwall will sell to US installers for $3,500 for 10kWh, and $3,000 for 7kWh, excluding inverters and installation.
Tesla Powerwall and cost in South Africa
While the Tesla Powerwall was widely welcomed, it is not certain whether it will come to South Africa, or whether it will enjoy support in the country.
Sinetech GM Herbert Teubner told MyBroadband the Powerwall is basically just repackaging existing Tesla battery technology in an aesthetically-pleasing wall-mounted box.
While the Tesla lithium-ion battery technology is top-notch, similar batteries have been available in SA for quite a few years.
“Rule of thumb regarding these batteries is: half the size, double the capacity, four times the price,” said Teubner.
“Yes, the lithium-ions have a much longer service life, but the price tag is almost prohibitively expensive, therefore people tend to purchase the considerably cheaper standard lead-acid / AGM+Gel batteries.”
He said South Africans can expect to pay a lot more than the quoted US prices for the Tesla Powerwall locally.
Local pricing will need to include transportation costs, import duties, and profit margins for the dealers.
Teubner said Sinetech already supplies lithium-ion batteries, but the demand for these batteries in South Africa is low because of the high price.
“People are mostly buying the fully-sealed AGM + Gel VRLA High Cycle and Deep Cycle batteries, which are available at very competitive prices.”
The iPhone of the backup power market
Teubner said the Tesla Powerwall is a clever marketing drive. “Basically, Tesla seems to be positioning the Powerwall as a bit of an iPhone for the backup power market.”
He said the Tesla Powerwall is turning a battery into a fashionable and desirable accessory.
“At the end of the day, systems like these are currently only the preserve of the upper echelons.”
“There are many systems available to suit various budgets that can do just as good a job at providing backup power and are far more affordable to the man in the street.”