Fresh from hurling a Q3 “profit pie” in the face of Wall Street on Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is gearing up for his next big trick: the unveiling of the company’s highly anticipated integrated solar roofing product.
Tesla’s solar roof will be launched at sundown on Friday in Los Angeles – 11.30am Saturday AEDT, for those who want to watch the live webcast – alongside an integrated Powerwall 2.0 home energy storage solution, Tesla EV charger and the company’s grid- and commercial -scale Powerpack 2.0.
All this will be done in tandem with SolarCity, which, as TechCrunch points out, will offer “a sort of preview” of what we can expect from the companies as a merged entity.
In light of Musk’s love of a good show, and the timing of the event just before sunset, and the fact that the launch is being held at LA’s Universal Studios, at least one source is predicting a bit of a solar and battery-powered spectacle.
“How cool would it be if Tesla starts the event tomorrow by being powered with its new ‘solar roof’ and as the sun sets half an hour into the presentation, the power switches to the new energy storage products Powerwall/Powerpack 2.0?” said Electrek.co’s Fred Lambert.
Solar roofing has been on Musk’s to-do list for a little while now, after he raised it during a SolarCity conference call.
Unlike traditional solar panels, the new product is designed to replace traditional roofing materials, not be added on after the fact – or as Musk put it: “It’s a solar roof, as opposed to modules on the roof.”
This makes the target market new-build and replacement roofs, which according to Tesla number around 5 million a year in the US alone.
Not much is known, yet, about the specs of the next generation Powerwall, but according to sources, it will be ‘flatter and more rectangular’ than its predecessor and will be displayed and sold directly from Tesla stores, as opposed to just through accredited distributors.
As for Tesla’s scalable battery system for commercial and utility-scale, the Powerpack 2.0, this is being billed by some as the company’s most important product to be unveiled this year, and that includes the Tesla Model 3.
What is known about the Powerpack 2.0 is that it has been developed in partnership with Panasonic and that will soon go into production at the Gigafactory in Nevada.
According to Eelectrek.co, another interesting improvement coming with the Powerpack 2.0 is that Tesla is introducing its own inverter. In August, Musk claimed Tesla was “probably the best in the world on advanced inverter technologies.”
In a newly released blog on his company’s website, Musk claims it is the lowest cost, highest efficiency and highest power density utility-scale inverter on the market.
“The Tesla inverter paired with the Powerpack 2 allows storage to be available to the utility industry at price points and with functionality previously unknown,” he writes. “The combined system is now a cost-competitive alternative to other traditional utility infrastructure solutions such as building larger substations, bigger wires and more power plants.”
And, just to repeat his end game: “As we continue to innovate, scale and reduce costs of commercial and grid-scale systems, we will significantly accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources to power our world, ultimately getting us to 100% renewable energy grids.” Maybe prime minister Malcolm Turnbull should pay the Tesla factory another visit.
Musk and CTO JB Straubel have both said the product’s new 2170 format cell will feature a new battery chemistry slightly different from the current 18650 cells used by Tesla in its vehicles and energy storage products. Reports are it will feature twice the energy capacity found in the first generation, at roughly 200kWh.
Speculation on the EV charger, meanwhile, is that it could be integrated directly into the Powerwall, improving the speed of charging. As Electrek has pointed out, this could then make the EV a virtual extension of the Powerwall, feeding energy back in the other direction when it would do more good in your home than in your car.