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Tesla wants to disrupt Australia's electricity industry

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Information Age

But can we ever go completely off-grid?

Academics are excited by the promise of Tesla's Powerwall but believe it could be a decade or more before users can think about disconnecting from the fossil fuel reliant electricity grid.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the Powerwall rechargeable lithium-ion batteries on May 1, which come at a cost of between US$3000 and $3500, excluding installation.

Users can charge them using rooftop solar, or at times when grid consumption rates are low, "discharging during more expensive rate periods when electricity demand is higher".

Tesla is hardly first in the home energy storage space, but its entry into the market is seen as important for the technology to gain critical mass.

"Powerwall is important because of the global brand of Tesla," Delta Electricity chair in sustainable energy at the University of Sydney, Professor Anthony Vassallo, told an Australian Science Media Centre briefing.

"It's a bit like the iPhone level of consumer interest. If it were a different company offering the same product you wouldn't have gotten that publicity."

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