In this day and age, energy comes from wind, water, sun and from geothermal forces below the surface of the planet. How to store that energy and transport it becomes more difficult. Oil is transportable and has a long shelf-life, making it a favorite option.
Elon Musk’s plan to bring a Tesla battery to homes and offices, the Powerwall, is a battery in 7 or 10 kilowatt-hour sizes. Tesla plans a battery for bigger operation with a 100 kWh unit named the Powerpack. The Powerwall can pull power from the grid during off-peak hours.
Musk’s vision is lithium-ion batteries – the same batteries in your phone and laptop. Lithium-ion does have some drawbacks. Slow and expensive to make, the batteries end up costing more upfront. They also sometimes overheat, melt and catch fire. To avoid these two drawbacks would be Tesla’s big innovation. His model is to link together thousands of thumb-sized batteries. Further, the batteries are to be strung together with a liquid cooling system and compartmentalized so fires do not spread. Tesla also has redesigned the architecture to bring electricity from one place and state to another.
Just in case, the batteries are strung together with a liquid cooling system, and compartmentalized so any fires that do happen won’t spread. Tesla also improved the capacitors, inverters, and other parts of the architecture required to move electricity from one place—and state—to another. One historical issue with renewable source of energy is they work when the sun is shining or wind is blowing, etc.
Do we know the entire story about Musk’s plan? It is tough to know. Some have guessed Musk’s secret ingredient could be silver. Solar panels mostly use silver, and the home-based batteries Musk suggest can lend themselves to increased solar panel usage. According to Thomas Reuters GFMS, solar uses about 6% (60 million ounces) of world supply every year, and has restarted its upwards trend. NASA has used silver for space-age batteries. NASA helped to develop a new kind of silver-zinc cell.