Look Out Utility Companies: Tesla is Disrupting More Than Just the Auto Industry
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, has been leading the way in innovation in the auto industry for more than a decade. The Model S made waves at this year's International Auto Show. Last September, Tesla announced it will build the world's largest battery factory just outside of Reno, Nevada. The company is calling it a "gigafactory," which will produce batteries for cars making their all-electric cars more affordable. But the company also has plans for new products in solar and in-home energy storage.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Tesla will be the most significant competition utility companies have seen in 100 years, according to Adam Allington of Marketplace. Allington spoke with J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer, who says, “In a single factory we're doubling the worldwide capacity to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.” That will be huge for Tesla's all-electric fleet, but the company also plans to develop batteries for use with solar power generation.
In places such as California where solar is becoming commonplace, there is a huge demand for these batteries. “We sign up approximately one new customer every minute of the workday," Will Craven, director of public affairs at California-based SolarCity, told Allington. Much of the excess energy harnessed by solar panels is returned to the power grid, Cravens says. Homeowners have no control over where that excess energy goes.
But now, in a partnership with SolarCity, Tesla plans to use rooftop solar panels fitted with Tesla's batteries to allow customers to keep that energy in-house. That way, homeowners can use that energy when they want and how they want. It's what investors call a disruptive technology and it puts Tesla in direct competition with utility companies.
“Stationary storage, or backup storage, is really being considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of renewable electricity generation,” Ben Kallo, an analyst with the Robert W. Baird financial services firm, told Marketplace. With the ability to store energy, renewable energy sources can compete head-to-head with utility companies for customers, according to Kallo.
Musk has never been afraid of the competition. Tesla released its patents in an unprecedented move to advance electric vehicles. When asked at the International Auto Show if he was worried that so many other car companies were going electric, he said no. The future is in electric vehicles. "Forward-minded utilities might look at Tesla’s business model as an opportunity," says Kallo. "Energy-storage technology could be used to build capacity in their existing grids and also to build new infrastructure for battery-powered cars and homes."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By James O'Hare
There are 20 million people in the world facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In developed nations, too, people go hungry. Venezuela, for instance, is enduring food insecurity on a national level as a result of economic crisis and political corruption. In the U.S., the land of supposed excess, 12.7 percent of households were food insecure in 2015, meaning they didn't know where their next meal would come from.
Artists are taking the climate crisis into frame and the results are emotional, beautiful and stirring.
So you've seen the best climate change cartoons and shared them with your friends. You've showed your family the infographics on climate change and health, infographics on how the grid works and infographics about clean, renewable energy. You've even forwarded these official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphs that explain the 10 clear indicators of climate change to your colleagues at the office.
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.
A coalition of conservation groups and others announced Thursday that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument. Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day comment period ending on May 26, more than 685,000 comments in support of Bears Ears National Monument have been collected.