It was finally announced ready in 2015 with a pilot demonstration of 500 units installed in the same year.
Since then the 2nd generation has been released and now the release of the 3rd generation Powerwall is planned for the near future.
The Tesla Powerwall was originally aimed more at the residential market but since then, the focus has switched to include commercial and utility applications by the development of the Powerpack Lithium-ion energy storage system.
Tesla had a brilliant marketing team, so much so that the Powerwall has become a household name globally.
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, Tesla didn’t develop the Lithium-ion battery or even the technology for renewables application.
However, they were one of the first companies to really bring the technology into the mainstream application for renewables, aiming to mass-produce the technology and bring costs down, making it a more affordable technology.
What this also did was stimulate the market to create more competition in the renewables energy storage space. Energy storage is the future and resolves many of the current challenges with renewables, such as storing energy produced during the day for use in the evening when power costs are generally more expensive due to peak demand periods.
How does the Tesla Powerwall stack up against other Lithium-ion energy storage applications, though?
One thing for sure is that the pace of energy storage technology development is moving fast and costs are coming down. As the technology matures and more competitors come online we’ll see the industry in a similar space to the solar PV industry.
1. Tesla Powerwall 2
The first generation of the Tesla Powerwall was overhauled in 2016, with the end result being the Tesla Powerwall 2.
The technology is based on Lithium-ion phosphate technology, similar to what Tesla uses in their line of EVs. The Tesla Powerwall 2 can be used to increase self-consumption and provide backup power, especially in off-grid mode.
Where the Tesla Powerwall shines and really packs a punch compared to other competitors is the ratio of cost to capacity.
One Powerwall can store up to 13.5 kWh of energy. It also includes an integrated battery inverter.
The Powerwall comes with a 10-year warranty, assuming daily charge and discharge cycles. There’s a minimum capacity warranty of 70% for the duration of the warranty too.
2. Sonnen Eco
The Sonnen Eco is also a Lithium-ion phosphate battery similar to the Tesla Powerwall. Developed and manufactured in Germany, it presents German engineering at its best!
The Sonnen Eco comes as a wall-mounted unit, as does the Tesla Powerwall. It comes in a rated capacity of 4 kWh and is scalable. Need more capacity? No problem, it can be scaled up to 16 kWh in 2 kWh increments. Larger storage capacity is possible with the Pro version, which can be scaled up to 48 kWh.
Sonnen Eco includes an integrated inverter. It has a lifespan of 10 000 cycles and also comes with a 10 year, 70% energy storage capacity warranty.
What makes the Sonnen Eco unique is its integrated AI software that learns your energy usage patterns. It then uses this data to optimise when to use the grid or when to draw power stored in the battery system based on grid TOU tariffs.
3. LG Chem RESU
The LG Chem RESU Lithium-ion energy storage solution is a popular choice in Europe and Australia. It comes in a variety of different sizes from 2.9 to 12.4 kWh. Their range of RESU Lithium-ion batteries is designed purely for the residential environment, to provide increased self-consumption.
It comes with a 10-year warranty that offers a minimum guaranteed capacity of 60%. The LG RESU doesn’t include an integrated inverter like the Tesla Powerwall and Sonnen Eco. The energy storage system is compatible with SMA and SolarEdge inverters.
4. Simpliphi Power AccESS
Simpliphi Power is a US-based Lithium-ion Energy Storage company. They manufacture a range of Lithium-ion battery solutions.
The AccESS Lithium-ion battery is an integrated solution and includes a Schneider Electric battery inverter. The ESS can also operate in grid-tied or off-grid mode.
Three different models are available, offering energy storage capacity ranging from 7 kWh to 14 kWh.
What’s great about the AccESS model is that they can be discharged to 100%, making them a whole lot more efficient than many others. It’s also rated for outdoor installation so can withstand the elements. The other great thing is that the system is designed to operate at high temperatures, making it ideal for the Australian climate.
The ESS comes with a 10-year warranty with a 10 000 cycle life at 80% depth discharge.
5. BYD Bbox
BYD Battery Box is another popular Energy Storage solution in the Australian market.
It comes in three different versions. The BYD Battery Box Res is more suited for the residential market, though. There are four different versions available in this range, with energy storage capacity ranging from 2.56 kWh to 10.24 kWh.
The system is scalable, meaning up to 32 can be connected in parallel to provide a maximum energy storage capacity of 81.92 kWh.
It can also operate in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius and up to a maximum of 50 degrees Celsius.
6. Sonnenschein @ Home ESS 7.0 & ESS 9.0
Sonnenschein is a German company that specialised in manufacturing energy storage systems, originally hybrid based gel batteries.
Since then they have expanded into the Lithium-ion battery space. Their two flagship Lithium-ion battery models are the ESS 7.0 and the ESS 9.0.
Both are available in Australia and are aimed at the residential sector.
Each module contains its own battery energy management system. Up to 12 can be connected in parallel, making it a scalable solution.
The Sonnenschein @ Home Lithium 7.0 provides 6.8 kWh of energy storage whilst the 9.0 model provides 8.5 kWh of power.
The Lithium-ion energy storage industry has boomed in the past few years, partially thanks to Tesla’s mass production of the Tesla Powerwall.
The Tesla Powerwall has become a household name in just a few years. New Lithium-ion battery technologies are coming out frequently, some of them are from well-known brands and others - from startups.
Energy storage technology is seen as the panacea for renewables, resolving many of their challenges in storing energy generated during the day for use at night when energy is more expensive.
The race is on to find the technology that maximises energy storage density with the fastest charge time.
How does the popular Tesla Powerwall stack up against the competition though?
The Tesla Powerwall is already in its 2nd iteration and offers the best ratio of cost vs capacity when compared to many of its competitors. It also includes an integrated battery energy management system.
However, the Sonnen battery has a unique learning software that learns the energy usage of the home over time. It uses this information to determine the best time to draw power from the grid and battery.
That being said, it has been rumoured that the 3rd generation of the Tesla Powerwall will include similar functionality.
The industry is developing at a rapid pace and as competition heats and production costs fall, Lithium-ion battery technology will become more affordable.
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Photo credit: Tesla, Sonnen, LG Chem, Simpliphi, BYD, Sonnenschein