The new Duracell

I had the honour of meeting Elon Musk briefly some years ago. Back then, he was just doing space exploration. There aren’t very many people for whom you could write that sentence – even without the word ‘just’ – but for him, its inclusion is entirely appropriate.

Now, he seems to be doing… well… everything that’s cool. I have since admired his orbital exploits, ridden in his cars, and, of course, bought a significant proportion of my purchases using Paypal – which helps pay for all the rest.

The latest product is apparently to be batteries – here’s the new press announcement – but these are not your average AAs. They’re wall-mounting.


At 10kWh, these could run a lot of LED lightbulbs for a long time. Especially if you’re not also using them to recharge your model S.

They’re designed to make it easier for solar-equipped households to depend less on the grid, especially by time-shifting the peak sunshine energy at noon to the morning and evening, when there’s peak demand. That’s not simply about being green: just a few weeks ago, visiting friends were telling us about the ‘loadshedding‘ powercuts in Cape Town recently, where everybody got a scheduled two-hour outage each day to help cope with the insufficient power-generation capabilities in the country. This seems perfect for that, too.

Still, the next challenge Musk has to address is the really tricky one: the manufacture of solar panels which don’t ruin the appearance of the building to which they’re attached.

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Really? The trickiest remaining challenge to sustainable energy is aesthetics?

Well, it would be a very big barrier for me to get over before putting them on my house, and I’m quite an enthusiast.

Also, I live in a conservation area, and I expect something that marred the appearance of the building to that degree would be frowned upon.

Of course, there would also be the problem of rotating my house through 90% to get a reasonable amount of sunlight on the roof. Perhaps that’s a bigger challenge 🙂

This is something I’ve been hoping for since we had solar panels installed a few years ago. With this system, not only will it I get paid (thanks Q for indirectly paying towards this as an electricity customer), I’ll actually be able to use the electricity I generate rather than dump it as waste energy on the grid by heating up cables. In summer our daily generation and use just about balances. All we need now is a government incentive such as grants to allow us to buy the energy store at someone elses expense. There are fields of solar panels, now we can have barns of batteries.

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