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By Tom Cassauwers

Before the hurricane came, I was a software engineer. I'd graduated with a bachelor's degree in graphic design and animation, but here in Puerto Rico there weren't many jobs in that field, so I taught myself how to code. When I began, I didn't even know how to make "hello world" appear. After a while, I was building full-blown apps.

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Powerwall residential battery with solar panels. Tesla

Tesla's plans to build the world's largest virtual power plant in South Australia will proceed after all.

The $800 million (US $634 million) project—struck in February by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill—involves installing solar panels and batteries on 50,000 homes to function as an interconnected power plant.

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Solar panels being installed on Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. U.S. Air Force photo / Lou Hernandez

California could become the first state in the country to require solar panels on most new homes.

The state's energy commission will vote on the new standard on Wednesday, May 9 and they are expected to approve it, the Orange County Register reported.

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Tesla

Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered to help restore Puerto Rico's hurricane-wrecked power grid with the company's batteries and solar panels. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló responded positively.

Making good on the promise, Tesla has switched on a combination of its solar panels and Powerpack commercial energy storage batteries for Hospital del Niño, a children's hospital in San Juan. The Puerto Rican capital was hit especially hard by Hurricane Maria.

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Tesla is sending its Powerwall system to Puerto Rico as the island deals with widespread power loss in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

According to Electrek, the company has been quietly shipping hundreds of battery packs to be paired with solar panels to Puerto Rico ever since the storm cleared.

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One of the first adopters of Tesla's highly anticipated solar roof is none other than Elon Musk.

"I have them on my house, JB has them on his house," Musk revealed, referring to J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer. "This is version one. I think this roof is going to look really knock-out as we just keep iterating."

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A home with a Powerwall 2 and solar panels. Tesla

South Australia—already home to the world's largest battery—will soon host the world's largest virtual solar plant under a landmark plan from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the state government.

The plan involves installing a 5-kilowatt solar system and a Tesla Powerwall 2 battery on roughly 50,000 homes across the state over the next four years. The setup will be installed at no charge to the households and financed through the sale of electricity.

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Storage solutions, such as Tesla's Powerwall domestic battery, are "moving from the grid to the garage to the landing at home." Tesla Motors

If we want to accelerate the world's renewable energy transition, we'll have to modernize the electric grid and we'll need much better batteries. Just look at Germany, which generates so much clean energy on particularly windy and sunny days that electricity prices are often negative.

Sure this is good news for a German person's wallet, but as the New York Times noted, "Germany's power grid, like most others around the world, has not yet adapted to the increasing amounts of renewable energy being produced."

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Tesla/Electrek

Many people might balk at the idea of living in a home that's the size of a treehouse, but Tesla, Inc. just created a tiny house fit for its larger-than-life CEO, Elon Musk.

The Tesla Tiny House is currently being towed on the back of a Model X around Australia to exhibit the company's products and to teach the public how to generate, store and use renewable energy for their own home, according to Electrek.

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Cali Nurseries/Facebook

An ornamental plant farm in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico that was wrecked by Hurricane Maria is slowly rebuilding thanks to solar panels that power the 40-acre nursery.

Cali Nurseries grower Hector Santiago told Reuters that his $300,000 investment on 244 solar panels six years ago has allowed him to continue working.

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Tesla solar roof.

Elon Musk announced via Twitter this morning that Tesla is opening orders for the company's highly anticipated solar roof tiles.

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Elon Musk unveiled solar-powered roof tiles and an upgraded PowerWall battery as he prepares for Tesla's $2.2 billion takeover of SolarCity.

During a press event at Universal Studios in LA, Musk announced that Tesla will build and sell its own line of solar panels with integrated batteries.

"We're reaching record CO2 levels," Musk said as he began his presentation. "Global warming is a serious crisis and we need to do something about that."

"We need to make solar panels as appealing as electric cars have become," Musk said as he explained his vision.

The tiles, Musk boasted, are made of textured glass integrated with solar cells and look very similar to traditional roof tiles. The solar roof would cost less than a conventional roof and could be rolled out as early as next summer.

The upgraded PowerWall 2 will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.

Watch here:

For a deeper dive:

News: Reuters, Ars Technica, Wall Street Journal, Gizmodo, IB Times, Wired, BBC, LA Times, Forbes, CNBC, Christian Science Monitor, Mashable, AP

Commentary: Bloomberg, Tom Randall analysis; Forbes, Jeff MacMahon column

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Shareholders approved the $2.6 billion bid by Tesla Motors to buy SolarCity, paving the way for the clean energy giant to become a one-stop shop for electric vehicles, rooftop solar and energy storage.

"I think your faith will be rewarded," Elon Musk said after the merger was approved by 85 percent of the company's unaffiliated shareholders.

"We can't do this well if Tesla and SolarCity are different companies, which is why we need to combine and break down the barriers inherent to being separate companies," Musk said in August when Tesla announced it closed the deal with SolarCity. "That they are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history. Now that Tesla is ready to scale Powerwall and SolarCity is ready to provide highly differentiated solar, the time has come to bring them together."

Next year, Tesla plans to begin rolling out the $35,000 Model 3 sedan and a new solar roof.

For a deeper dive:

LA Times, Reuters, CNBC, USA Today ,Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Greentech Media

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Elon Musk's Master Plan to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy is becoming reality. Tesla and Panasonic have officially kicked off the mass production of lithium-ion battery cells at the massive Gigafactory outside Sparks, Nevada.

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For Elon Musk, having one Gigafactory isn't enough. If all goes to plan, he wants to build Gigafactories on several continents.

A rendering of the completed Sparks, Nevada Tesla Gigafactory which will be topped by rooftop solar panels. The massive battery plant had its grand opening on July 29.Tesla Motors

Musk gave journalists a tour inside the company's massive Gigafactory Tuesday at it's grand opening celebration. The unflagging Tesla CEO told BCC he wanted a factory "in Europe, in India, in China ... ultimately, wherever there is a huge amount of demand for the end product."

Indeed, demand is high for Tesla's products—the company received nearly 400,000 pre-orders for its highly anticipated $35,000 Model 3 sedan.

The Gigafactory will manufacture lithium-ion batteries for Tesla's electric cars and Powerwall products that store solar energy for homes and businesses.

To make its products, Tesla currently imports batteries from Japanese electronics company Panasonic. In order to meet Tesla's ambitious aim of producing 500,000 cars a year, it partnered with Panasonic to build the $5 billion Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada to make the batteries locally to speed up production and slash costs. By manufacturing the battery cells onsite, Musk said Tesla will be able to innovate faster and cut out about 30 percent of the cost, according to BBC.

"Where the shipping costs start to become significant, the obvious way to combat that is to at least put a Gigafactory on the same continent," Musk said.

The Associated Press reported that the Gigafactory is only 14 percent built after two years of construction. The original projected completion date for the massive project was 2020 but Musk is ramping up construction. Around 1,000 people are working seven days a week on two shifts so the factory can start producing batteries before the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada is only 14 percent built after two years of construction.Tesla Motors

Once construction is complete, the Gigafactory will be about three-fourths a mile long at an enormous 10 million square feet—the size of 262 NFL football fields. Musk noted that the factory could eventually employ 10,000 people in the next three to four years.

Not only will the Gigafactory be the world's largest building by footprint when construction finishes, it will be powered 100 percent by renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal, and will feature energy-storage technology. The company also plans for the building to achieve net zero energy.

Musk tweeted that the building will recycle old batteries—which will be highly necessary as Tesla aims to nearly double the world's production of lithium-ion batteries.

Tesla wants the Gigafactory to be a global powerhouse. As the Associated Press described of the company's goals:

Tesla says the factory will be producing 35 gigawatt hours of batteries by 2018. That's the equivalent to the entire world's production in 2014. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said the factory has the capacity to produce 150 gigawatt hours if it needs to. To put that in context, New York City uses around 52 gigawatt hours of energy per year.

Musk has long advocated for a sustainable transportation future, and recently made a $2.8 billion move to acquire SolarCity to basically allow Tesla customers to drive on sunshine.

Last week, the entrepreneur further explained his grand plans when he unveiled his Master Plan, Part Deux. Climate Nexus summarized Musk's goals in four bullet points:

  • Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
  • Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  • Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  • Enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it

"Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better," Musk wrote.