Just as the controversy surrounding climate change, heats up (no pun intended), Tesla is giving you a way to make your home more environmentally friendly. How, you ask? By offering sleek looking Panasonic solar panels to attach to your roof. Solar panels themselves are not exactly new, but it sounds like these ones might be a better option if you’re concerned with the way they look. Traditional solar panels tend to be bulky and stick off your roof slightly. Exposing the hardware to anyone walking by. But are you really concerned about the way it looks? If you are, these are the panels for you.
Aside from vanity, there is an even bigger reason to consider these panels for your home – energy conservation and environmental impact. Ok, that’s two reasons, but they go hand in hand. The big benefit I am referring to is that solar panels reduce your reliance on other types of power. But up until now, the issue with solar panels is that they technically only work when it’s sunny. Meaning, there haven’t been a lot of “good” ways to store the energy. That’s not to say that you can’t store it through a battery, but how many battery cells would you need to back up/run your house when it’s raining?
And that’s where Tesla comes in. My assumption is that part of the reason for partnering with Panasonic is for Tesla to push the Powerwall. Essentially, it is a battery pack that stores energy until it is needed. The Powerwall can power up to two bedrooms for an entire day. So having 2 or 3 of these gadgets around the house might save you money in the long run, AND help the environment. Both of which are extremely positive. You’re probably thinking – these are great, where can I get one? And I don’t want to deter you from looking into it, but one Powerwall costs around $10,000. And when you put it in those terms, maybe it isn’t worth it.
At least not from a cost perspective. So, what kind of difference would a solar panel have? Where I live (and your electricity regulators might be different), if you have any kind of alternative energy source – wind, solar etc., any energy that your house doesn’t use, gets put into the grid. And, in theory, you get a credit for producing that energy. This is great, if you can afford it but solat panels themselves are expensive to purchase and install. And while I think the idea here is amazing, we have to look at it from an affordability perspective.
You might already be living pay cheque to pay cheque, so the upfront cost of these panels might not be worth it. I can certainly see a benefit to the panels and also the Powerwalls, but at what cost? I am writing this as I sit through a rain/hail storm. We are experiencing unseasonably warm weather in April. Presumably as a result of climate change. What is going to help us, for sure, is the ability to harness and store alternative energy sources. But it’s not going to do a lick of good if no one can afford it.
Another thing to consider with solar panels is the idea that it’s not always sunny. We can’t get energy from the sun at night time, so we’re limiting ourselves in that regard. Wind might be a better option, but there are also some downsides to that. I think a combination of solar and wind energy need to be considered from an alternative energy perspective. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but good move Tesla. I love where this is going, but like with anything, is it possible for it to be more affordable to the average citizen? Don’t stop what you’re doing, but think of the little guy while you’re at it.