Nov 4, 2016: Window Replacement and Tesla’s New Battery

This week we present Episode 5 in our series of short videos about the Energy Retrofit of the old fibro cottage next to the Greeny Flat. In this episode we are replacing the old single-glazed, double-hung, wood windows with new double-glazed, aluminium, casement windows. It would be nice to use thermally-broken aluminium frames but I just haven’t been able to find any for a reasonable price. So we’re sticking with the same, un-broken Stegbar aluminium windows that we used in the Greeny Flat. They’ve proven pretty successful for the two-and-a-half years we’ve been living with them so we’re happy to give them another go. Once we’ve finished replacing all the windows we’ll be able to start recladding the house and thinking about some of the internal remodelling that we have planned.

New Tesla Battery Raises the Bar Several Notches

By now you’ve probably heard that Tesla has announced the release of their new battery, the Powerwall 2. Elon Musk made the announcement last week in this 19 minute video presentation.

For some reason he seems nervous and unprepared but the underlying message is worth noting. He spends a lot of time talking about their new solar-roof product. Personally I like the look of a conventional solar panel system. But for those who don’t, Tesla has invented a series of roofing tiles that, from the ground look like conventional roofing products, but performs like a set of PV panels. I suppose this is a nice idea but a friend of mine, who installs solar systems, raised questions about the increased risk of fire due to the greatly increased number of connections in a roof of this type. Anyway, in my opinion Mr Musk spends far too much time talking about the solar roof and not nearly enough providing details about their new battery.

This battery has really raised a stir because, according to Elon, it can store twice as much energy for about the same installed cost as the original Powerwall 1. In other words Tesla has just halved the cost of battery storage. If the claims prove to be true (both Elon and Tesla are being very coy about the details) it means that batteries may now make economic sense. In other words they will pay for themselves within their warranted lifetime.

This has a LOT of people excited because a global transition to renewable energy depends upon affordable, reliable energy storage. We have to be able to store some of our solar and wind power for the times when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Otherwise we will still be dependent on coal and gas-fired power plants to provide energy at night and during still and/or cloudy weather. If it’s true and Tesla has succeeded in halving the cost of battery storage with one stroke, this is a BIG DEAL and is going to mean a huge boost to renewable energy uptake around the world. It’s also going to force other manufacturers to dramatically reduce the price of their batteries in order to compete.

Meanwhile, here in SE NSW, it looks like the new Tesla Powerwall 2 is going to be made available as part of the Suncrowd Community Bulk Buy program. So, if you live in this wonderful part of the world, be sure to visit the Suncrowd website and RSVP for a free information session in your area to learn more about your options for affordable solar power and battery storage systems.

Here in the Southern Highlands, the second event will be held at the Moss Vale Services Club on Tuesday, November 15th at 6pm. I hope to see you there and I look forward to learning more details about the new Tesla battery.

Paris Climate Agreement Goes Into Effect

Finally we can’t let the week pass without acknowledging that the Paris Climate Agreement comes into force today. This is an even BIGGER DEAL than Elon’s latest announcement because, as reported in this article from The Guardian

This is the first time that a legally-binding agreement, signed by all of the world’s functioning governments, has laid down a commitment to limit the growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with the goal of preventing global warming exceeding 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Let’s hope it works.

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