Tesla Powerwall Has Competition
Energy storage has a number of applications for residential and commercial customers. First and foremost, homes with solar panels could benefit from energy storage, especially if net-metering laws, which let customers use the grid for “virtual storage,” disappear. (Off-grid users with PV systems obviously need storage as well, but that’s a pretty small market right now.) Secondly, as more electric utilities incorporate smart meters and time-of-use pricing, customers may use behind-the-meter storage to reduce their consumption during peak demand hours. Commercial and industrial customers already use energy storage for load shifting and demand management. Finally, on-site energy storage can provide short-term emergency backup power when the grid goes down.
Tesla’s Powerwall works for all of those applications, but it’s not the only player in the game. Other companies – some established and some upstarts – are tossing their Li-ion batteries into the ring as well. Let’s look at a couple.
Schneider Electric’s EcoBlade is a modular, scalable, and fully integrated storage system designed for homes, businesses, and microgrids. About the size of a 30” (76 cm) flat-screen TV and weighing 55 lbs (25 kg), the EcoBlade is designed to hang on a garage wall, much like its Tesla counterpart. Unlike the Powerwall, which needs a separate inverter, the EcoBlade is fully integrated: Li-ion batteries, charge controller, inverter, and energy management software are all included.
The 10 kWh Tesla Powerwall is expected to sell for $3500, but adding the cost of an inverter and professional installation brings the price tag closer to $6000, which equates to roughly $600/kWh. The 5 kWh EcoBlade, which will be available sometime in 2016, has a target price of less than $500/kWh installed. A pair of EcoBlades will provide 10kWh of storage for about $5000, including installation.
Like the Powerwall, the EcoBlade is scalable. For commercial and industrial applications, several EcoBlades are mounted into a rack (hence the “blade” designation), providing up to 100 kWh per rack.
Schneider also developed a pre-engineered pod for microgrids. When fully loaded, the pod can store 1 MWh of energy and deliver up to 3.2 MW of peak power.