Home solar batteries from Tesla Motors, which could upset utilities as we know them. Billion dollar solar bonds from SolarCity, backstopped by banking bigshots.
Happy Earth Day!
After being artificially suppressed for decades, renewable energy developments have accelerated, with excellent timing. Earth Day brought mounting news via Bloomberg that Tesla’s anticipated home solar batteries, hinted at in March by an Elon Musk tweet, will be announced at the end of the month. But the truth is really that they have already arrived, beneath our noses, in about 300 California homes solarized by SolarCity, as well as 11 smart Wal-Marts.
On April 30, Tesla will unveil further details on its forthcoming line of residential and utility scale solar batteries, to the delight of greens looking to pile up cash while downsizing their carbon footprints. Utilities, whose electricity generation is America’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions, are certainly going to be watching — and counting too. They know, like Tesla and other cleantech titans on the come-up, that energy storage is going to be a billion dollar market, thanks to demand, incentives and inevitable climate changes. Simply wading into the home solar market has given Tesla access to $65 million in incentives, reportedly boosting its stock price, which has lately been on $200 autopilot, by another $70 per share.
Tesla’s partnership with SolarCity has proven as green: In honor of Earth Day, America’s panel installation leader activated a billion dollar solar fund, in partnership with Credit Suisse, to finance 300 megawatts of commercial projects over the next few years. Add that to the hundreds of millions that SolarCity has pulled in, from Goldman Sachs to Google, to accelerate its industry-beating residential and commercial installation pipeline, and you have two renewable energy titans that are taking Earth Day quite seriously.
But it’s not just them, and it’s not just beginning. As I wrote above (and elsewhere, everywhere), these exponential solarizations have been held back by an energy industry simply too used to doing the same dirty business for too long.
If Tesla’s home solar batteries — predicted by Thomas Edison way back in 1931 — are as user-friendly as its electric vehicles, then they could prove epochally influential. A more recent pre-Earth Day study from Rocky Mountain Institute prophesied that utilities could be up next for extinction, thanks to home solar plus energy storage. It’s going to be a bright, hot summer.