This could be the beginning of a new energy future for Canada and the world. And at about $3,000-$3,500 US for a Powerwall, plus wiring and installation, they’re attainable for many homeowners. The batteries can be recycled using Tesla’s program for its existing electric vehicle batteries. Canadian firm NRStor plans to start selling Powerwalls in Canada in 2016.
Canadian policy-makers and energy utilities need to harness the green-power generation and storage potential of Canadian households by giving middle-class Canadians incentives, such as tax credits and feed-in tariffs, to produce and store green energy. The cost of solar panels has dropped a hundredfold since 1977, with wind and other renewables following suit, making household energy harvesting increasingly appealing to Canadians who want to live green while reducing their costs.
Currently there are lots of limitations on Canadians who want to generate their own electricity. Canada has put tariffs on Chinese solar panels, making them more expensive and harder to import. B.C., Quebec and other provinces allow net metering (when property owners provide the grid with home-generated renewable energy, in exchange for a reduced bill). Only Ontario actually pays people who feed the grid.
That incentive encourages people to generate as much green energy as they can, because they’ll get paid for it. A country of green energy-generating households could power industry and public facilities without as much need for fossil fuels. In 2012, fossil fuels still made up 74 per cent of Canada’s energy consumption, the World Bank says.
A home battery system is “the missing piece,” as Tesla calls it, to our green future. It will let households buy from the grid at off-peak hours when it’s least expensive and sell to the grid at peak hours when it’s most needed.
Versions of this arrangement are already in place in Germany and some American states.
According to a 2013 National Academy of Sciences study of electric vehicle batteries, when you use renewable electricity to charge them, the results are still better for the environment than fossil fuels.
“Combined with solar PV (photovoltaics, a solar-energy technology), Tesla has made energy independence not only more accessible but also more desirable,” Briones said.
The new energy market would create jobs and opportunities for Canadian companies to innovate. A few, like electronics maker Eguana Technologies and green-battery company Electrovaya, are already on the forefront. But we need more incentives before household green-power generation and storage can go viral.
Stephanie Orford is a Vancouver-based writer. The Science appears every other Wednesday
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