What Tesla's Recent Announcement Means for the Future of Manufacturing

Tesla’s decision to provide batteries to consumers signals a huge shift in sustainable energy usage.

Climate change, uncertain prices, and wavering supply: all bad things associated with traditional energy sources. It’s not news that many companies have made the switch to alternative methods of sourcing energy, and they’ve managed to do so without compromising operations. Wind, hydroelectric, and solar power are all examples of renewable energy that have minimal impacts on the environment and current supply. In fact, renewable sources produce a ton of energy: The United States can produce nearly 10 times the country's current energy consumption based on wind energy alone.

The issue now revolves around storage. Energy is being produced faster than it can be used. How can companies utilize all that extra energy, saving time and money?

 

That’s where Tesla’s new battery comes in.

Last week, the company revealed further details about its plans to sell consumer Lithium-ion batteries, for renewable energy storage. Tesla is initially offering residential packs and plans to produce larger packs designed for industrial use, paving the way for factories to dramatically increase their energy efficiency.

Tesla isn’t the only company getting in on the storage game. Renewable energy storage may be an emerging market, but it is incredibly lucrative—it’s expected to be worth $1.5 billion by 2019. The Energy Storage Monitor Report predicts that energy storage will triple through 2015. And the biggest customers of energy storage are utility-scale facilities like factories, that use a lot of energy and can drastically cut costs by storing any excess. In the first half of 2015, utility-scale deployments accounted for 87% of the market. While Tesla is currently focused on residential storage, the car company holds an advantage due to its ability to produce batters at a relatively low cost at its gigafactory. It will soon unveil more information about storage plans for facilities like factories.

 

Why act now?

Companies can already practice efficient energy use by harnessing renewable sources like wind or solar power. But energy storage allows high-output facilities to save money and maximize efficiency. By storing energy, power is regulated and distributed at optimum levels whenever it is needed, saving money on new production. Storage also acts as an emergency power supply for unexpected outages. Energy storage, on a global scale, also acts as a low-cost solution for countries without access to power grids. Storage solutions also ease worries of the initial cost of switching to renewable energy, as the ROI is far more immediate.

Factories and warehouses are on the verge of technological revolutions, with automation and tracking boosting efficiency and output. Energy storage is set to be a big part of those revolutions—and it all starts with a battery.

 

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