Tesla Batteries Powering Wal-Mart Stores May Spell The End Of Dirty Fossil Fuel

I recently wrote about Elon Musk and Tesla’s proposed plan to introduce a battery powerful enough to run your house and how it could cripple power companies. What I didn’t get into is the other side of that plan where Tesla delivers a killing blow by selling industrial scale batteries to companies like Wal-Mart and Cargill:

Tesla Motors Inc. is signing up big customers like Wal-Mart and Cargill, accelerating efforts to become a leader in energy storage — a new market that’s poised to boost sales and profit at the electric vehicle pioneer.

Next week, Telsa will make a deeper push beyond the car business when it unveils batteries for homes and utilities.

And it’s not just “We’re hoping to get Wal-Mart on board,” they’re already testing the technology out:

As part of a pilot program with sister company SolarCity, Tesla has installed batteries at about 300 California homes equipped with solar panels. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which has a relationship with SolarCity, has Tesla batteries installed at 11 California stores; Cargill Inc. plans a one-megawatt system for its animal-processing plant in Fresno.

If the Wal-Mart and Cargill (a very large, very rich multinational corporation with a wide variety of interests) both fully adapt this technology, corporations all over the country are going to rush to copy them. It’s kind of like when the popular girls at school start a new fashion trend. Except in this case, it’s going to be about saving a LOT of money on energy costs instead of being popular.

If the power companies were looking at the loss of billions in revenue from the home version of this technology, they’re looking at cataclysmic losses from the corporate version. It would be far cheaper, even in the short run, for Wal-Mart to slap a solar farm on top of every one of their rather large stores and even larger parking lots than it would be to keep buying power for their electricity-hungry locations. Hell, if it overproduces, it could simply sell it back to grid and make a profit.

And here’s the juiciest part: the power companies are already hard at work lobbying to make renewable energy more expensive for homeowners. They hate, hate, HATE the idea of regular Americans generating their own electricity and not paying the power companies for the privilege of turning on their TVs. But that won’t work on corporations. They have lobbyists, too and their pockets are just as deep. This is a fight that the power companies cannot possibly win.

This won’t mean the end of all fossil fuel usage, of course. But it will mean the end of the staggering amounts of it we use when we don’t have to. More to the point, every billion the Fossil Fuel Industry looses is that much less money they can spend to block the spread of green technology.

The irony of green technology beating fossil fuel at its own game of buying politicians is most delicious indeed. After decades of unnecessary pollution to keep a handful of companies obscenely rich, Elon Mush and Tesla, along with a rejuvenated green energy sector, may have finally found the key to breaking the back of our worst carbon polluters.