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WATCH: Forget Cars, Tesla Wants to Revolutionize Power Storage (Updated)

The major upshot of more and cheaper batteries and much more widespread energy storage could, in the long term, be a true energy revolution — as well as a much greener planet.

Updated 5/1

Complete with a reference to Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movie franchise — because two *billion* new Tesla batteries could get the whole world, and all its transportation, running on clean energy — Elon Musk knocked it out of the park last night with a brilliantly demure keynote speech about the future of global clean energy (#demure).

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There are three main products: two home batteries — one for daily use and one for backup power — and a larger industrial model which, as we noted yesterday, companies like Walmart are already using. A round of applause breaks out when Musk reveals the attractive price point of $3,500 for a home model (industry observers thought the price may be above $10,000).

Chris Mooney at The Washington Post offers the best rundown of what the announcement means, such as helping create a new competitive industry of energy storage, bring renewable energy into the grid (reducing your monthly bills), and allowing individuals to go completely off the grid for a modest investment.

Musk is pretty cool guy — his interviews with Big Think are great — and the anticipating that culminated in last night’s announcement of the new battery product was intense. It goes to show that having a good design and marketing approach can be an extremely influential way to bring people around to your ideas.

“Prices for batteries have already been dropping, but if Tesla adds a “coolness factor” to the equation, people might even be willing to stretch their finances to buy one. … The major upshot of more and cheaper batteries and much more widespread energy storage could, in the long term, be a true energy revolution — as well as a much greener planet.”

We’re looking forward to what Musk does next and congratulate him on this remarkable idea.

Orion Jones contributed to this post.


Update 4/30

Ever the social media tease, Tesla CEO Elon Musk‘s Twitter game has been opaque, cheeky, and extremely effective at building hype. A month ago, Musk first teased a major announcement set for today:

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

And then there was this from yesterday:

For the future to be good, we need electric transport, solar power and (of course) ...

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2015

Aside from causing Twitter to respond like a 13-year-old at a One Direction concert, Musk's opaque tweets have caused legions of speculators to ponder what exactly Tesla has up its sleeve. Early reports indicate that most of that speculation has been on point. As Klint Finley wrote over at Wired Musk's big surprise was likely a line of "mega-batteries for homes and electric utility companies."

"Tesla isn't an automaker," proclaims the headline above Finley's story. "It's a battery company."

With Tesla's big announcement coming today, we know a little more now about the industry's worst-kept secret. According to Business Insider, the company is set to reveal two new batteries that store energy more efficiently than any battery before. Observe that these aren't the AA batteries your dad stockpiles for his 10-year-old digital camera. These babies are large, expensive, and could completely change the way you think about powering your home or business. Most expect the announcement to be much more than designs and projections — these products should be ready, if not incredibly close. Bloomberg reports Walmart is already using some of Tesla's new toys to power its stores.

As we mentioned last week, this focus shift makes a lot of sense for Tesla and Musk. The crucial element that sets Tesla's cars apart from the competition is its unique proprietary power supply. Expanding on that technology seems like the logical next step for a company that may foresee a future when car ownership isn't nearly as important as it is now. And while Finley mentions Tesla could soon be supplying batteries to utility companies, it wouldn't be a shock to see the company move forward in an effort to disrupt the power industry as a whole.

(If so: Please Elon, slay Time Warner and Comcast after you take on my local power company).

The most important thing to take away is that Musk and company are embarking on a mission to redefine the future of technological innovation. Battery power has long held back the advancement of computer technology, as Singularity University's Brad Templeton explains in the video below. Musk's style has always been characterized by his (literal) shoot-for-the-stars ambition. As Templeton says, the sky's the limit once we develop the better battery.

Read more at Wired.

Below, Vivek Wadhwa explains why he's such a Tesla fanboy:

Photo credit: Delices / Shutterstock


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