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Tesla’s Worst-Kept Secret Has Become Power Companies’ Worst Nightmare

As predicted, last night Elon Musk introduced a suite of Tesla batteries for homes and businesses. The technology is exciting now; it could be a game changer in the future.

We’ve been riding the Tesla beat pretty hard this past month ever since CEO (and Big Think expert) Elon Musk teased at the end of March that something big was going to go down in Hawthorne, California:

Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015

Speculation ran rampant but it didn't take long for the industry's worst-kept secret to become apparent: Tesla isn't a car company; it's a battery company. Musk affirmed our suspicions last night:

Our updated story from last night has all the specifics on what Musk talked about, so if you're looking for the tl;dr version, go ahead and check that out.

What's probably most interesting here isn't that Tesla is moving beyond cars, but that Musk is once again tackling an obstacle to global progress. We're not such fanboys to assume Musk isn't incentivized by money and glory and all the other things that typically drive innovation. There is something to be said, though, about how his entrepreneurial decisions revolve around finding solutions to key human problems. SpaceX sought to revolutionize space exploration. Tesla Motors sought to provide a solution to vehicles running on fossil fuels. Now Tesla Energy seeks to spark "a fundamental transformation of how the world works, about how energy [is used] across Earth."

There are two key transformations we should hope for and anticipate:

First, as Vivek Wadhwa and Brad Templeton have both said on this site over the past year, the limitations of battery power are keeping us from developing the fancy toys we really want.

Powerwall is groundbreaking because it's both economical and scalable. Because of this, Musk may very well have opened the door to the next great age of battery technology. If so, both transportation and computer innovation are going to skyrocket in the coming decade. Wadhwa, the self-described "Tesla fanboy," expects as much:

Wow, $3500 for 10kwh battery is much cheaper than expected. This is transformative. Will disrupt.

— Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa) May 1, 2015

Missing link in solar has been energy storage. Once this is solved--and looks like Tesla is taking us there--rapid acceleration.

— Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa) May 1, 2015

.@elonmusk: Just placed my reservation for Tesla Powerwall. OMG, this feels like an Apple release--ordered as soon as I could. 🙂

— Vivek Wadhwa (@wadhwa) May 1, 2015

The second key transformation involves something we predicted last week: Musk is giving homeowners the opportunity to get off the grid. Like Wadhwa tweeted above, investing in solar panels and a Powerwall will drastically reduce a household's carbon footprint, not to mention free people from the pseudo-monopolies that call themselves utility companies. It's an old joke by now, but can Elon please take aim at the cable companies next? 

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Tesla's keynote was a game changer for reasons ranging from environmental to the scientific and everything between. We can go on and on about the big ideas at play here, but the ultimate accomplishment here is that this technology should be among the most consumer-friendly innovations in recent memory. Perhaps this is what sets Musk apart, aside from his confidence and penchant for ambitious projects. His vision includes both the improvement of Earth's environmental situation and the overall betterment of peoples' lives.

And that's admirable.

Check out the full press kit over at Tesla


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