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Renewable Energy

Meet the World's First Island Powered by an Off-Grid Renewable Energy System

A tiny, scenic island lying off Scotland's west coast is truly a model for sustainable, off-grid living. With no mainland electricity connection, the Isle of Eigg gets its electricity from the water, the wind and the sun.

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Photo credit: Lyon Group

World's Biggest Solar + Battery Farm Coming to Australia

A massive solar and battery farm is being built in South Australia's Riverland region.

If everything goes to plan, the plant will be running by the end of 2017 and will be the largest such system in the world, Brisbane-based renewable energy developer and investor Lyon Group announced.

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Tesla Flips Switch on Gigafactory to Accelerate World's Transition to Renewable Energy

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.

"Tesla's mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles in addition to renewable energy generation and storage," the company announced in a blog post on Wednesday. "At the heart of these products are batteries."

The high-performance cylindrical "2170 cell" was jointly developed by Tesla and Panasonic engineers. The cells will be used for Tesla's suite of battery storage products, the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2, as well as the company's mass-market electric car, the Model 3.

Tesla's highly vaunted Gigafactory is currently being built in phases so that the company and its partners can manufacture products while the building continues to expand. Construction is expected for completion by 2018, at which point the Gigafactory stands to claim the title of world's largest building by footprint.

According to Electrek, "Tesla aims for the Gigafactory to become the biggest building in the world by footprint at 5.8 million square feet and second largest building in the world by total square footage of over 13 million."

Tesla touts that its current structure already has a footprint of 1.9 million square feet, which houses 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors.

"And we are still less than 30 percent done," the firm adds.

Not only that, as EcoWatch reported in July, the enormous building 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.

Once it reaches full capacity, the Gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells annually, which is "nearly as much as the rest of the entire world's battery production combined."

Tesla built the Gigafactory in order to fast-track a cleaner, more sustainable future.

"With the Gigafactory online and ramping up production, our cost of battery cells will significantly decline due to increasing automation and process design to enhance yield, lowered capital investment per Wh of production, the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof, and economies of scale," the company explained in the blog post.

"By bringing down the cost of batteries, we can make our products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy."

Tesla said that bringing cell production to the U.S. will create thousands of American jobs.

"In 2017 alone, Tesla and Panasonic will hire several thousand local employees and at peak production, the Gigafactory will directly employ 6,500 people and indirectly create between 20,000 to 30,000 additional jobs in the surrounding regions," the company said.

World's First 'Tesla Town' Coming to Australia

Plans for the world's first "Tesla town" are underway. YarraBend, a suburb-to-be located just outside of Melbourne's city center, is under development by local property group Glenvill.

The world's first "Tesla town" is coming to Melbourne, Australia. Glenvill

The developers have already put the first 60 homes on the market. The eco-friendly abodes will have rooftop solar, Tesla's battery storage system, electric car recharging points and energy efficient lighting as standard design features.

"Tesla Powerwalls are being installed in Park Precinct premium homes at YarraBend as part of our sustainability plan. Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels," Glevill wrote on an Instagram post. "Automated and safe, the Powerwall enables you to maximize household usage of solar power generation."

Elon Musk's game-changing suite of batteries for businesses, homes and utilities were designed to help wean the world off fossil fuels. The batteries store electricity generated from solar panels. (If everything goes to Musk's plan, the batteries will be charged with Tesla's own solar panels). Australia received its first shipment of Tesla Powerwalls roughly six months ago.

Living in this high-tech town, however, does come at a price. According to Australia renewable energy website One Step Off The Grid, the 16.46 hectare development will ultimately be home to 2,500 new residences, with three to five bedrooms houses, townhouses and apartments ranging from $1.48 million to $2.1 million in price.

It is not yet clear how many Powerwalls will be installed at YarraBend but based on the number of dwellings, it could number in the thousands, One Step Off The Grid reported.

The high price tag does include a number of amenities though. YarraBend's future residents will belong to a "Smartwired" community, Glenvill boasts on its website. The town will have high-speed internet and a "complimentary tech-concierge," a service that assists with tech-related tasks, from smart wiring to household WiFi set ups. Residents can also download the YarraBend app that provides community information such as public transport timetables, home delivery menus, carpooling arrangements and social events.

While the suburb is technologically advanced, it's also incredibly green. The landscape is surrounded by the tree-filled Darebin Parklands and Yarra Bend Park. The community will be home to a number of gardens, trails and parks, including an elevated park called The Paper Trail.

Public transportation is also encouraged, as the roads are inspired by Scandinavian bike-friendly cities. Bus stops and the Alphington train station are within walking distance.

"YarraBend will achieve the highest possible ESD (ecologically sustainable development) rating under the UDIA (Urban Development Institute of Australia) Envirodevelopment scheme, a first for an infill development site in Melbourne," Glenvill sales and marketing manager Nick Marinakis told the Heidelberg Leader.

UDIA's Victorian chief executive Danni Addison also told the Heidelberg Leader that YarraBend is one of the most environmentally sustainable developments in Australia with a water reduction of 43 percent, landfill reduced by 80 percent and the potential to reduce energy use by 34 percent.

"The Powerwalls, combined with solar panels (also standard), will mean that future residents will be able to benefit in a variety of ways, including dramatically smaller power bills and knowing that the majority of their energy usage is coming from a clean and renewable source," Addison said.

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