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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Elon Musk's Tesla Energy Lithium Ion Battery Comments from David Lipschitz

Why Tesla is backing batteries

Did Tesla Just Kill Nuclear Power?

Elon Musk and Tesla aren't the first when it comes to home scale battery back up systems. These are already available. It's just that in the energy world, Tesla's marketing is better than anyone else's in the world. Just like Apple's and Google's marketing.

Isn't it incredible that these companies can have such clean and uncluttered web sites, even though they have so many products and so much information?

There are already great Lithium Ion (LiOn) products in the market place, but everyone is now saying that Elon Musk and Tesla will change the world. And yes, they will, along with many other great companies and technologies. I think the thing with Elon is his openness and wanting to share his technology and his ideal that we can get off fossil fuels. That appeals to everyone, including many of the skeptics out there.​

My Lead Acid battery bank at the moment is 12 kWH of which about 4 kWh is usable on a regular basis. And cost about R18,000 (US$1,500). So the Tesla battery is about the same price if it lasts 10 years or more as claimed, or twice the price if it lasts 5 years. LiOn batteries have lots of great advantages such as lasting 4 times longer,​ fast charge, fast discharge, ​without impacting the life of the battery. ​ Higher charging / discharging efficiency should actually make the LiOn battery cheaper than Lead Acid. And fast charging means that one can have a large PV array to ensure that the battery is fully charged every day, including rainy days.​

We'll wait for more news once the system is in operation.

I've also been researching a Chinese LiOn battery for house scale systems which is already available in South Africa at about the same price as the Tesla. See FreedomWon.

You can charge LiOn 1 to 1 under normal use, ie fast, ie if you have a 100 AH battery, you can put 100 Amps into it to charge it; with a 100 AH lead acid battery you can only put 20 Amps into it taking 5 hours to charge. And then another thing is that you can discharge a LiOn battery almost completely flat on a regular basis. With fast three phase super-chargers one can actually charge LiOn 2 to 1, ie put 200 Amps into a 100 AmpHour battery bank.

​And then there is the efficiency. The charge / discharge cycle of a Lead Acid battery is about 56% efficient, whereas the charge / discharge cycle of a LiOn battery is claimed to be 96%. Therefore a smaller LiOn battery can be used, ie fewer AH (Amp Hours) and therefore the LiOn battery might finally be cheaper than the Lead Acid Battery. Up till now, LiOn has been about 2.5 times the price of Lead Acid.​

A LiOn battery takes up less space than Lead Acid, as can be seen in the size of Tesla's wall mounting.

Elon Musk and Tesla and companies like FreedomWon and maybe even My Power Station are changing the world, a step at a time, helping us all finally retire and become independent from the big corporations and big government upon whom we are all overly dependent.

Give me a call to do a presentation to your directors, company, organisation, community group, NGO, or family about your power station and your power needs.

PS: Batteries like these aren't the only kinds of storage we can use in a Decentralised Electricity with Embedded Generation. This mind map shows many different kinds of "batteries", all essentially storing electricity, energy and heat for later use.

PPS: One should note that both fossil fuel based systems and renewable energy systems waste electricity and often have electricity when it isn't needed. In the past this energy has been wasted in fossil fuel systems, but modern batteries can be used both by renewable energy systems and fossil fuel systems thus reducing our peak demand requirement and the need for so many power stations.


  1. Hi David,

    What do you think of Bosch's BPT-S 5 Hybrid product?


    It appears to me to be way ahead techwise of the competition.

    king regards
    Colin Nauta

  2. Heres the difference for the Bosch vs Tesla:

    Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid
    Price list – March 2014
    Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid 4.4 kWh $17,718
    Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid 6.6 kWh $21,736
    Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid 8.8 kWh $25,753
    Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid 11.0 kWh $29,771
    Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid 13.2 kWh $33,788

    For the price of the 8.8kwH Bosch unit you can get a 100KwH Tesla PowerPack!

  3. I'd agree with your assertions , Dave, let's hope everyone touting storage has their place in the sun , Tesla's marketing is good and it will grow the pie for everyone IMHO.

  4. BTW, your link to FreedomWon does not work ( 404 )

  5. Thanks Antony. I have fixed the link.

    Thanks Andrew Martin. Will look.

  6. Thanks Antony. I have fixed the link.

    Thanks Andrew Martin. Will look.

  7. kWh in the battery: Depends on the battery. For lead acid, battery voltage x nominal amp-hr capacity x 50% (as you can't completely discharge a battery. So take a 12V 110Ah battery, 12 x 110 x .8 = 0.66kWh

    Note that the 80% efficiency is for a LiOn battery, or in Tesla's case a Lithium Air battery.

    So if the cost of the Tesla battery is R36,000 and the kWh is 7, the cost per kWh is R5,142? I would think that one needs to take the cycles of the battery into account? eg 5000 cycles of 7 kWh each gives, R36,000 / (5000 * 7) / R1.02 per kWh.

    Then assuming this is right, and the cost of a grid tied PV system assuming Net Metering without a Service Fee is R1.20 per kWh, then does one simply add the R1.20 plus the R1.02 to get the actual cost per kWh? R2.22?

    If this is the case, then if Eskom put the prices up by 25% later this year, then homeowners will be at grid parity including batteries, of course with the above assumptions.

  8. One very important point about the Tesla battery is that now everyone is finally talking about batteries. Thank you Elon Musk.

  9. Frank D Spencer You didn't ask for the amortised LCOE of storage. To do that, you need to calculate the financed cost over the life of the battery. At 5000 cycles, that is about 15 years at one cycle per day. At 9pcnt I think the cost comes out at R1.5/kWh more or less.

  10. And cost about R18,000 (US$1,500). So the Tesla battery is about the same price, but should have lots of great advantages such as lasting 4 ... teslabattery.blogspot.com