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Question Your World: What is the Power Wall?

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With an ever growing population, access to energy becomes a large factor in planning for the future. Many individuals and organizations have tried to bring alternative power methods to the table, but none have caught on just yet. A new option, the Power Wall, was recently introduced to the world and could very well be a game changer in the energy business. It's got a cool name, a slick design, and comes from a very reputable organization, but how does it work? What is the Power Wall? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginiato find out.

Currently nearly 7.2 billion people call Earth their home. As the population grows our need for power becomes more and more of a serious topic. While fossil fuel based power has been the leading force in the energy market, it may be the right time to discuss alternative methods that will usher in a cleaner and more efficient future. Elon Muskof PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX fame has been a leading figure in innovative thinking while keeping the needs of the marketplace in mind as well. Sure, electric vehicles and advanced spacecraft may not seem like they are rooted in the average person's price range, but they are viable forces that are helping change the landscape in those industries. Similarly, Musk is now looking at our homes as the newest inspiration for his work.

On May 1, 2015 Elon Musk gave a keynote speech which involved unveiling his most recent project, the Power Wall. This is an awesome new idea that very quickly had various online communities in a tizzy. The basic concept is simple, using naturally occurring power to help us wean off fossil fuels. Early in his speech he pointed out that we have the luxury of having access to a giant fusion reaction every single day, the sun. This naturally occurring source of energy shows up to work on time every day and can easily provide the world's power if we choose to use it. The biggest issue with solar power right now is that if the sun's not out (like in extremely stormy weather or at night) we won't be able to use solar technology. Musk aims to fix that with his Power Wall, a solar charged battery and energy hub for the house.

As the sun lights up our sky it can power our daily uses while simultaneously storing excess energy to the battery. In turn, as the sun begins to set, the battery kicks in and would power our needs during night time. That's the basic idea, but there are a lot of cool aspects to this battery beyond its initial concept. For starters, the lower cost options begin at $3,000. This is a pretty large single purchase to make on a whim, but for people planning on buying homes or upgrading their living conditions, this is a viable option. In addition to storing energy this battery would also be connected to the internet giving it access to smart algorithms that would track power use across the grid to help facilitate just the right variables for the most efficient use possible. Another great perk involved here is that excess energy can be stored and sold to power companies. The battery's work can't fuel the entire planet right off the bat, but the excess energy aggregated from the Power Wall could at least help supplement the existing power grids.

All in all there is no one single solution to the current energy crisis, but inventions such as these help get the dialogue moving further. The Power Wall could very well be the first major consumer product needed to begin the next era of power distribution and energy use. Musk's plans are still very much in development, but as testing and installations continue we'll start to see a clearer picture on how this new innovation could prove itself to be really powerful, for the lack of a better word.