For people interested in cutting edge technology, Tesla Powerwall’s capabilities are legendary. In conjunction with solar panels, Tesla allows homeowners to generate solar energy and then store any excess energy in the Powerwall as a backup battery for your home. Ideally, this technology would be available worldwide.
Despite their exciting announcements to the contrary, Tesla has not yet offered their Powerwall services in the country of Jamaica.
This article breaks down the history of Tesla’s announcements, the general speculation around them, and possible reasons why Tesla has not brought the Powerwall to Jamaica. Additionally, we address the areas that Tesla has focused on and what infrastructure is needed for the Powerwall to work in those areas.
Tesla’s Jamaican Announcement
In 2015, Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s Powerwall technology would be coming to Jamaica, in addition to other areas of the world. It was announced in combination with the beginning of construction on a new factory in Utah. They estimated that the price for the Powerwall would be $390,000 JMD, or $3,324.52 in US dollars. Plenty of companies began to get excited.
Installation of the Powerwall and solar panels would bring down the cost of storing energy and allow for a higher return of investment on renewable energy. Compared to other parts of the world, Jamaica’s propensity for many hours of bright sunlight seems to make them the ideal country for solar energy, so many customers eagerly awaited the arrival.
Two years after, Tesla announced its solar panel roof tiles. Once again, people became excited, speculating about the possibilities of incorporating a solar roof and the Powerwall. The advantages of the solar roof are mainly aesthetic in nature, but it was a neat invention that wowed plenty of homeowners.
But, as they announced their new invention and made no move to bring the Powerwall to Jamaica, people began to see the writing on the wall.
Five years later, they are still waiting. Despite the seemingly perfect environment for renewable solar energy production, Jamaica has still not been chosen for Tesla’s expanding empire. Tesla has not released an official statement explaining why they have not brought the Powerwall to central or South America. Nor have they stated any intentions to expand their current regions.
As of 2020, the Powerwall is still not available in Jamaica. When it was first released, the Powerwall was only available within the United States, like many other products they produce. Since then, the Powerwall has now become available in 35 different countries around the world, but Jamaica, and most of central and South America, are not on the list.
Why The Powerwall Isn’t In Jamaica
Despite Jamaica’s seemingly ideal conditions for solar energy production, people haven’t been getting their hopes up about the Powerwall coming any time in the near future. One reason is that, generally, Tesla’s products have been roaring successes. That’s great for the company and helps inspire potential innovators everywhere, but it does have a downside.
Namely, the demand is high. People in America, the country of origin, all want the Powerwall for their house. Tesla has been seeing that their products and sell out quickly and don’t have the ability to start exploring other markets until they comfortably satisfy their current customers. The Powerwall is more than just a piece of equipment, too.
You need to integrate it into the electrical grid system in the installation neighborhood and connect it to existing solar panels. Tesla and Tesla-approved affiliate companies perform the installation, which means that you also need the man-power in the country where the Powerwall is offered, which isn’t always easy to acquire.
Another reason is prohibitively high shipping costs. As many companies have found out the hard way, for countries that aren’t easily accessible via land routes, shipping costs can be outrageous. The other option would be to build an entire factory in Jamaica, a possibility that hasn’t been considered publicly as of yet.
Currently, the Powerwall is confined to some areas of the world. Mainly, it seems to be available in many Western European countries, in addition to North America, where it originated. At the time of writing, Tesla’s Powerwall is available in the following countries:
- The Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- South Korea
- The United Arab Emirates
- The United Kingdom
As you likely noticed, many of those countries are very affluent or located near a wealthy country. One of the reasons Europe is a popular destination for renewable energy companies isn’t the amount of sunlight they get; it’s a convenience of location. Most European countries are all right next to each other and easy to ship products to.
The same could be said for Eastern Asia, which is why you also see so many Asian countries on that list. It’s true, there are some outliers like South Africa and a few countries in the Middle East, but unfortunately, it looks like there aren’t any current plans to bring the Powerwall to either central or South America any time soon.
Necessary Infrastructure Capabilities
The cost of energy in Jamaica is relatively high, compared to most places within the United States, so you would think that the solar market would be booming as Jamaican residents looked for creative ways to produce their own power without needing to rely on expensive energy provided by the already strained local electrical grids.
The solar market is not thriving in Jamaica, and the Powerwall relies on the presence and use of solar panels to generate extra energy. As a country, over 93% of all of the energy produced in 2014 was from non-renewable sources. Solar power is difficult for homeowners to obtain due to financing challenges.
Additionally, estimating the cost of the Powerwall is a bit difficult. The website assumes that your entire house only needs one Powerwall. Still, for most homes in Jamaica, at least one additional Powerwall would be required to offset the cost of energy and effectively store the energy to power a home in case of a power outage.
On the Road to Change
In 2009, Jamaica approved an initiative called Vision 2030. This initiative covers a wide range of aspects of country development, but one crucial factor is the diversification of energy production. That diversification would make their energy supply sector more cost-effective and give their country additional energy security.
Since then, the government has been working to build connections for customers to integrate their solar power systems into their local electrical grids. Additionally, producers of energy would be allowed to sell any excess energy they produced to the grid operator. The prices would be set by official regulators and would provide a new source of income for energy producers.
This Standard Offer Contract would have the secondary benefit of encouraging homeowners with the means of solar production to think hard about their energy usage and be more economical. Incentivizing learning to be smart with your energy usage is a great way to allow people to earn some money and help the environment.
In 2015, a new $61 million solar electricity plant began construction in Clarendon. The hope is that this plant will eventually power more than 20,000 homes in the Content District located near the plant. This plant will go a long way toward bringing clean, renewable energy to the citizens of Jamaica and make it easier for forward-thinking residents to install their solar panels.
A Glimpse of the Future?
In an ideal world, Jamaica would already have access to Tesla’s Powerwall and the infrastructure necessary to ensure its success. However, if we can imagine a future where that is possible, we can begin to foresee the impact of the Powerwall on their solar energy production and their energy market as a whole.
How the Powerwall Works
Essentially a solar battery for your house, Tesla’s Powerwall works by absorbing excess energy produced by solar panels during the daytime when the sun is high in the sky. Anything that is not currently being used by the producer goes straight into the battery, which can be activated during a power outage or at night if you want to rely solely on your energy.
Owners of a Powerwall don’t need to worry about the unruly noises that you might get from a fuel-powered generator or needing to activate the Powerwall manually. The Powerwall automatically senses the lack of grid power and immediately kicks into action, keeping a steady stream of energy coming into your house.
The Powerwall also monitors your energy usage and how much energy it is storing or using at any given time. They say that knowledge is power, and keeping track of your energy storage and usage in real-time is a handy tool for households to reduce their energy usage and learn when it is cheaper to run appliances.
Although the Tesla Powerwall has not arrived in Jamaica yet, the country is currently working on a nationwide project to offer renewable solar energy to its residents. In time, Tesla may decide to bring the Powerwall’s capabilities to Jamaica as they build the necessary infrastructure and energize their solar production.