Tesla founder Elon Musk has launched two batteries designed to power homes and businesses in an attempt to reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity.
The wall-mounted Tesla Powerwall battery was described by Musk as "the missing piece that's needed" in the transition towards "a sustainable-energy world". Up to nine Tesla Powerwalls can be stacked together to work as one to power a home, with each unit costing $3,500 (£2,300).
The intention is for the batteries to be charged using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, replacing the need to burn non-renewable fossil fuels to generate electricity.
"Most power in the world is generated from fossil fuels," said Musk, speaking at a launch event for the Tesla Powerwall and the larger Tesla Powerpack. "Every year the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ratchets up and if we do nothing, we're headed to levels that we don't even see on the fossil records. I think we collectively should do something about this."
The sun could be used to harness enough energy to wean the United States off fossil fuels, according to the billionaire inventor, who went on to say that contrary to popular opinion, relatively little land and surface area would be needed.
"Very little land is needed to get rid of all fossil fuel electric generation in the US," said Musk. "That land will mostly be rooftops, so you won't need to disturb or find new areas [to develop]".
Musk claimed the Tesla batteries would efficiently store solar energy as well as energy produced by wind, providing a reliable and sustainable electricity supply for both day and night.
The products are designed to be placed either inside or outside the buildings they serve, with plastic covers available in a range of hues.
"You can pick your favourite colour and it looks like a beautiful sculpture on the wall," said Musk. "The fact it's wall-mounted is vital because it means you don't have to have a battery room – a normal household can mount this on a garage or on an outside wall and it doesn't take up any room."
The batteries can also be used by people living in remote locations without electricity infrastructure, or in areas where electricity is currently too expensive for occupants to use.
"This is going to be a great solution for people in remote parts of the world where there's no electricity wires, or where the electricity is extremely intermittent or extremely expensive," explained Musk. "It's going to be incredibly helpful to people who don't have electricity today."
Tesla's Powerpack, a larger version designed to store industrial amounts of electricity, was created to be "infinitely scalable". According to Musk, about 160 million Powerpacks could transition the United States to sustainable electricity production. Roughly two billion would be enough to power all transport, and to cover the world's entire electricity and heating requirements.
"Two billion sounds like a crazy number," said Musk. "But there are approximately two billion cars and trucks on the road, and this fleet is refreshed approximately every 20 years."
"It's actually within the power of humanity to do," he added. "We have done things like this before, so it's not impossible."
The Tesla Powerwall for homes is available to pre-order and shipping is due to commence in three or four months.