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Tesla's Gigafactory 1 photographed in January 2017

Tesla Installing World's Largest Solar Rooftop on Nevada Gigafactory

Tesla has started building a massive rooftop solar array on top of its Gigafactory 1 (GF1) outside Sparks, Nevada.

Once finished, the 70-megawatt system will be the largest in the world by far; the current record-holder is the comparatively shrimpy 11.5-megawatt array in India that can power 8,000 homes.

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A rendering of the completed Sparks, Nevada Tesla Gigafactory which will be topped by rooftop solar panels. Photo: Tesla

3 More Gigafactories Coming Soon to 'Change the Way the World Uses Energy'

At the grand opening of Tesla's enormous Gigafactory in July, CEO Elon Musk said he wants to build Gigafactories on several continents. He told BBC he wanted a factory "in Europe, in India, in China ... ultimately, wherever there is a huge amount of demand for the end product."

Well, it looks like Musk's factory-building plans are well underway.

The company said in its fourth-quarter investor letter on Wednesday that it is considering building up to five Gigafactories.

The letter states:

"Installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in Fremont and at Gigafactory 1, where in January, we began production of battery cells for energy storage products, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3. Later this year, we expect to finalize locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 (Gigafactory 2 is the Tesla solar plant in New York)."

Tesla officially flicked on Gigafactory 1's switch in January. The factory produces lithium-ion battery cells 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.

Gigafactory 1 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 plant could claim the title of world's largest building by footprint.

The facility will also be astoundingly clean and energy efficient, as it will be powered 100 percent by renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal and will feature energy-storage technology.

The company also plans for the building to achieve net zero energy. Tesla co-founder and chief technical officer JB Straubel once explained why Tesla wanted Gigafactory operations to be completely carbon neutral:

"The Gigafactory is maybe the best example we can talk about with this. You know, from the get-go, from the first concept of this factory, we wanted to make it a net-zero facility. So, you know, the most visible thing we are doing is covering the entire site with solar power. The whole roof of the Gigafactory was designed from the beginning with solar in mind. We kept all of the mechanical equipment off the roof. We didn't put extra, sorta, penetrations through the roof that we didn't need to and it's a very, very clean surface that we can completely cover in solar. But that's not enough solar, though. So we have also gone to the surrounding hillsides that we can't use for other functions and we're adding solar to those."

According to Straubel, the Gigafactory isn't even hooked up to any natural gas pipelines:

"The other interesting thing is we wanted to manage the emissions from the Gigafactory. Solar power can do some of that, but we took kind of a radical move in the beginning and said we are not going to burn any fossil fuels in the factory. You know, zero emissions. We are going to build a zero-emissions factory—just like the car. So, instead of kind of fighting this battle in hindsight, we just said we are not even going to have a natural gas pipeline coming to the factory, so we didn't even build it. And it kind of forced the issue. When you don't have natural gas, you know, none of the engineers can say, 'Oh, but it will be more efficient, let me use just a little bit.' Sorry, we don't even have it."

In December, Tesla and Panasonic launched operations at its Buffalo, New York plant, now dubbed Gigafactory 2. The factory manufactures high-efficiency photovoltaic cells and modules for solar panels and solar glass tiles for Tesla's highly anticipated solar roof.

Tesla's factories are all part of the company's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.

In last year's climate change documentary Before The Flood, Musk takes Leonardo DiCaprio on a tour of Tesla's massive Gigafactory in Nevada. During their chat, the Tesla CEO tells the actor and famed environmentalist that it would only take 100 Gigafactories to transition "the whole world" to sustainable energy.

With at least five Gigafactories in the books, looks like Musk's plans are slowly becoming reality. For what it's worth, even DiCaprio said building one-hundred Gigafactories "sounds manageable."

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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.

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Tesla Buys SolarCity as Part of Elon Musk’s Master Plan

Elon Musk's Master Plan: Part Deux is already coming to life.

Tesla Motors announced it has bought solar panel installer SolarCity for $2.6 billion in shares to create a seamless clean energy company. Or as Reuters puts it, consumers will now be allowed to buy solar panels, home battery storage systems and electric cars under one roof.

Tesla and SolarCity have created the world's first and only vertically integrated sustainable energy company.

Bloomberg tweeted that announcement was the "solar industry's biggest deal to date."

Tesla touted the merger in a blog post:

Just over a month ago, Tesla made a proposal to purchase SolarCity and today we are announcing that the two companies have reached an agreement to combine, creating the world's only vertically integrated sustainable energy company.

Solar and storage are at their best when they're combined. As one company, Tesla (storage) and SolarCity (solar) can create fully integrated residential, commercial and grid-scale products that improve the way that energy is generated, stored and consumed.

The enigmatic businessman perhaps poked fun at the historic vertical integration of the two companies in a classic Musk tweet:

According to MarketWatch, "SolarCity stockholders will receive 0.11 shares of Tesla for each SolarCity share, valuing them at $25.83 apiece."

Musk, who has long advocated for a sustainable transportation future, clearly stated in his Part Deux blog post that he wants his electric car company to "provide solar power."

"No kidding," he added. "This has literally been on our website for 10 years."

"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 continued. "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."

Tesla first announced the offer last month at a slightly higher price of $2.8 billion.

Musk stressed the importance of curbing use of dirty energy as quickly as possible. "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," he wrote.

Tesla said it expects that the merger will save customers money by lowering hardware costs, reducing installation costs, improve manufacturing efficiency and reducing customer acquisition costs.

The deal will now go to Tesla and SolarCity shareholders for approval. Musk, who is chairman of SolarCity and the largest investor in both companies has recused himself from the vote.

Last week, Tesla held a grand opening celebration of its massive Gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada.

The Gigafactory, which will be the world's largest building by footprint once construction is complete, will manufacture lithium-ion batteries for Tesla's electric cars and Powerwall products that store solar energy for homes and businesses.

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Elon Musk Gives Sneak Peek of Gigafactory at Grand Opening Celebration


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.

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