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If Tesla Is The New Black, This Solar/Battery Package Will Prove It

This will come as no surprise to those of you who know that the same guy who chairs the board at solar giant SolarCity is also co-founder and CEO of the high profile EV manufacturer Tesla Motors: SolarCity has just launched a nifty little solar power and energy storage package for businesses that incorporates Tesla battery technology.

SolarCity is marketing the new “DemandLogic™” package as a hedge against high peak electricity rates and grid outages, but we’re thinking that any number of business owners would want it, just so they can get bragging rights to a key piece of the Tesla brand parked on their premises.

A Solar Power Offer You Can’t Refuse

Well, sure, you could refuse this offer, but SolarCity has a pretty compelling plan. The only hitch is that your property has to be solar-friendly, since DemandLogic is packaged with SolarCity’s solar installations for commercial customers. Also, at least initially the package is only available in parts of the country where SolarCity can ensure that it will save money.

SolarCity offers Tesla battery with solar package.

Tesla EV (cropped) by Joseph Thornton (jtjdt).

The package is designed to enable businesses to use their own stored solar energy during high peak rate periods and draw off the grid when rates are low, without requiring any kind of “load shifting” or other changes in the company’s operations.

The system can also ensure that key functions, including security systems, get continuous power during grid outages.

Instead of requiring a lump up-front payment, the solar/battery package deal comes in the form of a ten-year service agreement payable in monthly installments.

According to SolarCity, the terms can be tweaked individually to ensure that the system starts paying for itself right off the bat, by achieving electricity savings that beat the monthly service cost.

EV Battery, Meet Building

For Tesla Motors, the leap from a mobile EV battery to a stationary battery package for businesses is a logical move, now that its production costs are on track. Tesla co-founder JB Straubel explains:

The economics and scale that Tesla has achieved in the automotive market now make stationary energy storage more cost effective and reliable than it has ever been in the past. We expect this market to grow very rapidly now that we have crossed this economic threshold.

According to a report in Reuters, SolarCity has also introduced the package on a test basis for homes, but has no current plans for a wide release. We’re guessing that would come along whenever SolarCity can guarantee the system will save money for residential customers, at least in parts of the country with high peak rates.

If that happens, look for the Department of Defense to be a potential customer. SolarCity is already a major installer of solar power for military residences to the tune of $1 billion, with one recent development being a partnership with the global company Lend Lease to install solar panels for the Air Force.

Meanwhile, mobile EV batteries are already dipping into the residential sector.

One of the most interesting developments we’ve seen is Ford Motor Company’s mashup with KB Home. It integrates the battery in a Ford EV with KB’s “ZeroHouse 2.0” ultra-efficient model home, which includes solar panels (KB already has a partnership with the company SunPower), the idea being that homeowners can use their vehicle battery to cut down on electricity use during high peak rate periods.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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