Tesla CEO Elon Musk formally announced last week that his electric car company will spin off a new battery business. Tesla Energy—now distinct from Tesla Motors—will manufacture lithium ion batteries for households and businesses that can be used to augment solar or wind-powered systems, or just to provide an extra layer of redundancy for customers connected to the traditional grid.
But over the next several years, Tesla's consumer-grade batteries may not make much financial sense for households in many places around the US. Unless traditional power is very expensive in your state (as it is in Hawaii), it's likely cheaper to stay on the grid when the sun goes down every day, especially if utilities buy back excess solar from rooftop systems (as they do in California). And though consumers might want batteries to use as backup electricity, for a multi-day emergency scenario a generator can still deliver more power for less money. So what's Tesla Energy's business model?
Consumer batteries have garnered most of the media's attention, but Musk admitted in an earnings call this week that Tesla Energy's near-term target demographic is actually business and utilities. “We expect most of our stationary storage sales to be at the utility or industrial scale,” is how he phrased it.
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