Electric car maker Tesla Motors has rolled out a new battery for homes and businesses that they say could end electric bills while creating a cleaner world. In announcing the Powerwall Home Battery, billionaire CEO Elon Musk called it “a fundamental transformation about how the world works — about how energy is delivered across the earth.”

It is an opportune moment for such an introduction, a time when solar panels and battery costs are falling fast. The Powerwall is based on the same technology used in Tesla’s cars — which have the longest range of any electric autos on the road. But these are big enough to power whole houses, and can be scaled-up or used with other batteries to supply electricity to businesses. Tesla says the battery will let owners cut the cord with traditional electric companies, by allowing them to produce and store their own electricity. Coupled with solar panels, the batteries can power homes, stores and factories around the clock.

“The problem with solar power is the sun doesn’t shine at night,” Musk mused during his press conference (in video below). His new battery changes that. He says it overcomes a lot of problems with older battery systems, by cutting costs, increasing reliability and lasting longer. That means people can use their solar panels during the day to provide electricity and be assured there’s enough juice in the Powerwall to get them through the night and any cloudy days.

The standard, 10 kilowatt-hour Powerwall home system will cost around $3,500 with the first deliveries coming this summer. Even without solar panels, the batteries can charge overnight, when electricity from power companies is cheaper, then power the house during peak billing hours. Tesla executives say that alone could cut electric bills by 25% for most people.

Musk also believes his new battery will address social and humanitarian issues. He says it can supply power to remote places where the stringing of power lines is costly or impossible — on high mountain peaks, in distant jungle villages or in empty deserts. And he sees it as a way to cut the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into our air by making solar power more reliable.Solar-light-in-India-MlindaFoundationPhoto

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A pilot program has tested 300 of the systems in the San Francisco region. Larger one-megawatt versions of the system have also been installed to power 11 California Wal-Mart stores and a 200,000 square foot Cargill packing plant.

(WATCH a Bloomberg video below – or the 18-min announcement at the bottom)

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