Gambit Energy Storage LLC, a Tesla subsidiary, is building a 100 megawatt energy storage project in Arlington, Texas, outside of Houston. The giant battery will plug into the Texas power grid, providing backup to a system that last month suffered a devastating failure when a severe winter storm knocked generation offline at the same time as demand soared.
Tesla introduced its Powerwall home batteries in 2016; the Gambit battery would store enough energy to power 20,000 homes during summer peak hours, and is expected to be operational on June 1st. Blackouts are becoming increasingly common as climate change exposes the energy grid's vulnerability to climate change, and battery-supported microgrids are increasingly seen as a critical backup for lifesaving systems.
As reported by NPR:
Like falling dominos, infrastructure around Texas, dependent on electricity, began failing in the extreme cold. In Austin, the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant shut down due to an electrical failure. That, combined with low water pressure from broken pipes, meant residents had to boil their water.
Blackouts are becoming increasingly common as extreme weather causes electricity demand to skyrocket, while simultaneously damaging the aging electric grid. Climate change-driven disasters, like more intense storms and hurricanes, only increase that risk.
So, some communities are looking for new ways to ensure that vulnerable people and infrastructure can withstand power outages. They're installing solar panels and large batteries to create tiny "microgrids" that continue working when the larger grid goes dark.
Some are being sited at crucial facilities, like water treatment plants, hospitals and emergency response centers. Smaller battery systems also aid people who rely on life-saving medical equipment at home. While electric utilities traditionally invest in keeping up the electric grid, disaster experts say they need to also explore newer solutions, adapted to extreme weather, for when the grid falters and can't be repaired fast.
"These natural disasters and disruptive events are going to continue," says Eliza Hotchkiss, senior resilience analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "We're seeing them, especially in hurricanes, happening more frequently with greater intensity. So we just can't bury our heads in the sand and ignore that this is a thing that's happening, because it will just continue to disrupt our lives."
For a deeper dive:
A California county has given the green light to what officials say will be part of the largest renewable energy storage facility in the world.
The project, which is a partnership between Tesla and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) won unanimous approval from the Monterey County Planning Commission Wednesday, NBC Bay Area reported. It is the second clean energy battery facility to be approved at the site of an underused power plant in Moss Landing.
"Certainly, combined, this is going to be the largest battery facility in the world, so it's a big boost to our community and our country," Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips said, as CleanTechnica reported.
The Tesla/ PG&E facility will have the capacity to store up to 730 megawatts of wind and solar power during off-peak hours, the Monterey Herald reported. The other project recently approved on the site, which is being built by Vistra Energy, will have a capacity of 1,200 megawatts.
The most recent project will involve the installation of 268 Tesla Megapack lithium-ion batteries.
The Megapack is a relatively new Tesla design, following the Powerpack batteries it used at its storage facility in Hornsdale, South Australia, which is the largest lithium ion battery in the world.
Tesla explained how they work:
Megapack significantly reduces the complexity of large-scale battery storage and provides an easy installation and connection process. Each Megapack comes from the factory fully-assembled with up to 3 megawatt hours (MWhs) of storage and 1.5 MW of inverter capacity, building on Powerpack's engineering with an AC interface and 60% increase in energy density to achieve significant cost and time savings compared to other battery systems and traditional fossil fuel power plants. Using Megapack, Tesla can deploy an emissions-free 250 MW, 1 GWh power plant in less than three months on a three-acre footprint – four times faster than a traditional fossil fuel power plant of that size. Megapack can also be DC-connected directly to solar, creating seamless renewable energy plants.
The Megapack also replaces the need for "peaker" natural gas power plants, Tesla explained. These are power plants that fire up whenever the local grid can't meet demand.
"They cost millions of dollars per day to operate and are some of the least efficient and dirtiest plants on the grid," Tesla wrote.
Construction on the company's Moss Landing project will begin at the end of the month and should be completed by the end of 2020, NBC Bay Area reported.
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Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
The company is planning its first European electric car and battery factory in the town of Gruenheide, but local environmental groups opposed the tree clearing necessary to construct it, Reuters explained. The court had issued a temporary injunction against the tree felling Sunday, The Guardian reported, but its decision now to allow the trees to be cleared is final and cannot be appealed, MarketWatch pointed out.
The factory has divided environmentalists in Germany, DW explained. On the one hand, Tesla plans to clear 92 hectares of forest for its factory. Local environmental groups are worried about how it will impact wildlife and water supply, and their vocal opposition has surprised authorities, according to Reuters. Demonstrations against the plant have drawn hundreds.
Local environmental group Grüne Liga Brandenburg (Green League Brandenburg) also argued that the company should not have been granted permission to clear trees until the March 5 deadline for environmental groups to comment on the factory, Bloomberg reported.
"To fell half of the forest when many aspects of this process are yet to be clarified seems fairly problematic, which is why we have asked the court to deal with it," Heinz-Herwig Mascher of Grüne Liga said, according to The Guardian. "It is not that we have something as such against Tesla as a company or its objectives. But we are concerned the preferential treatment they're being given could set a precedence."
On the other hand, the Gigafactory will produce at least 500,000 electric cars every a year, DW pointed out, making it part of the fight against the climate crisis. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also argued that the forest was not natural, but was planted for cardboard. He also said the plant would not use as much water as the peak estimates that had alarmed activists.
@EvaFoxU @Tesla Sounds like we need to clear up a few things! Tesla won’t use this much net water on a daily basis.… https://t.co/0oi9YhR8yh— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1579929424.0
Some environmental leaders took his side.
"[Y]ou don't always have to oppose everything," Berlin Green Party politician Ramona Pop said, as DW reported. "It is absurd to declare a pine plantation as a forest. We need to keep some perspective. Tesla's future investment should be allowed quickly for clean mobility and climate protection."
In its ruling Thursday, the court decided that the local authorities did not violate any laws when they allowed work on the factory to start, Bloomberg reported. Their decision means that Tesla should be able to finish clearing and begin construction before the breeding and nesting period for local wildlife in mid March. This will put the company on track to meeting its goal of opening the Gigafactory in the middle of 2021.Musk said on Twitter that the plant would be designed with "sustainability and the environment in mind," and that the company would plant three trees for every tree cut down.
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By Dana Drugmand
The oil industry, a staunch opponent of electric vehicles (EVs), received an early Christmas present from the White House as President Trump reportedly intervened to quash an EV tax credit expansion from inclusion in a government spending package.
The tax credit is meant to help offset the upfront cost of electric vehicles and boost the EV market. Consumers who purchase an EV can currently claim a credit up to $7,500, and the credit phases out once auto manufacturers sell 200,000 qualifying vehicles. Tesla and General Motors have both hit the 200,000-vehicle cap and had lobbied for an extension. A bipartisan proposal called for allowing a $7,000 credit for an additional 400,000 vehicles sold.
That proposal, introduced earlier this year as the Driving America Forward Act, was rolled into a broader package of incentives for renewable energy that proponents hoped to pass as part of an end-of-year spending deal. But groups tied to the Koch network and backed by oil industry funding worked hard to kill the clean energy incentives. These groups sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week urging the Senate to oppose any bill that includes an EV tax credit extension.
Ultimately the EV provision was dropped from the spending package. According to Forbes, "In last-minute negotiations over a massive package of spending bills designed to avert a government shutdown, the EV provision was lost in the shuffle and that was the outcome Republicans and President Trump wanted."
Trump specifically pushed for excluding the EV tax credit, as Bloomberg reported.
"There has been extreme resistance from the president. I don't know why the White House would want to stop jobs and the future of the auto industry," said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, one of the original sponsors of the Driving America Forward Act.
According to Bloomberg, White House pressure was a key factor in eliminating the EV tax credit extension: "White House officials warned lawmakers that if they tried to expand the electric vehicle credit as part of a compromise spending bill, it could tank the measure, according to two people familiar with the matter. The issue is particularly heated in the West Wing and among conservatives who view the credit as mainly benefiting rich Californians and Tesla."
The American Energy Alliance, the main recipient of grant funds from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), a major oil refinery trade organization, was one of the chief groups working to defeat the EV policy. In a press release, the AEA responded to the news by thanking the president and applauding him for "holding the line."
"President Trump stuck to his guns against a Congress hell-bent on saddling the cost of the Green New Deal on middle class American taxpayers. Companies like General Motors (GM) and Tesla have been clamoring for more taxpayer dollars to prop up their subsidy-based business model by doing everything in their power to influence our legislative process in their favor. But common sense has prevailed. President Trump deserves all the credit for holding the line on the electric vehicle tax credit expansion," AEA President Thomas Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries, said in a statement.
While AEA is calling the defeat of the EV tax credit extension a "holiday reprieve for taxpayers," the move is perhaps more accurately described as a holiday gift to the oil industry, which continues to bask in billions of dollars in federal subsidies each year.
Reposted with permission from DeSmogBlog.
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Tesla just unveiled its first electric truck.
CEO Elon Musk showed off the new design at a launch event at the company's Design Studio in Hawthorne, California Thursday.
"We need sustainable energy now," Musk said, according to Reuters. "If we don't have a pickup truck, we can't solve it. The top 3 selling vehicles in America are pickup trucks. To solve sustainable energy, we have to have a pickup truck."
But some commentators questioned whether Tesla's new electric vehicle would attract traditional pickup buyers. Teslas and other electric vehicles tend to sell in the coastal U.S., while truck sales are highest in the Midwest, CNN pointed out. The overall electric truck market is not expected to be large in the near future, according to Reuters: tracking firm IHS Markit estimates electric trucks will only account for about 75,000 sales in 2026 compared to three million trucks sold total. (These estimates do not account for the Tesla model.)
Then there's the design of the truck itself, which is, as CNN described, far from traditional:
When the truck initially drove onto the stage, many in the crowd clearly couldn't believe that this was actually the vehicle they'd come to see. The Cybertruck looks like a large metal trapezoid on wheels, more like an art piece than a truck.
Instead of a distinctly separate cab and bed, the body appears to be a single form. The exterior is made from a newly developed stainless steel alloy, Musk said, the same metal that's used for SpaceX rockets.
The futuristic design may not appeal to typical truck lovers.
"It will be a niche product at best and poses no threat in the pickup market as we know it today," Kelley Blue Book senior managing editor Matt DeLorenzo told CNN.
However, fellow Kelley Blue Book employee executive publisher Karl Brauer thought the truck would appeal to a different market — fans of high tech.
"Everything from its styling to its drivetrain will be a major departure from standard pickup trucks," he said in a statement reported by The New York Times. "As a technology statement for tech-oriented professionals and fans, this truck's departures from the norm will be seen as assets, not liabilities."
Tesla announced three models at different prices: a $39,900 single-motor rear wheel drive, a $49,900 dual motor all wheel drive and a $69,900 tri-motor all wheel drive. The most expensive car will be able to tow 14,000 pounds and drive 500 miles before recharging. The cheapest model will be able to travel half that, according to CNN.
Production on the trucks is expected to begin in late 2021 and they are now available for order on the Tesla website, The New York Times reported.
The truck is also advertised as being especially resilient. Musk said its doors could resist a bullet from a nine millimeter handgun, and Tesla's chief designer Franz von Holzhausen hit them with a sledge hammer during the unveiling to prove their strength. They remained undented.
A test of the windows, however, did not go as well. When von Holzhausen threw a metal ball at the front and near left windows, they smashed.
Musk swore and then said, "Room for improvement," BBC News reported.
"It didn't go through, that's a plus side," Musk said further, according to BBC News. "We threw wrenches, we threw literally the kitchen sink at the glass and it didn't break. For some reason it broke now… I don't know why."
Jessica Caldwell of vehicle marketplace Edmunds told BBC News she thought the "fail" would overshadow the announcement of the new truck.
Tesla isn't the only company looking to make electric trucks in the coming years. Both General Motors and Ford plan to sell electric trucks by the end of 2021, according to Reuters. Ford also invested $500 million in a startup called Rivian, which plans to build electric trucks starting in the fall of 2020.
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The car is a compact SUV that will have a range of 300 miles, The Verge reported. Three versions will be available for sale in fall of 2020: a $47,000 long-range version, a $51,000 all-wheel drive dual-motor version and a $60,000 performance version. A cheaper standard version with a 230 mile range will sell for $39,000, but won't be available until 2021.
The Model Y looks essentially like a larger version of the Model 3, the company's first mast-market car, according to The Verge. The Model 3 just became available for its target $35,000 price two weeks ago, three years after the car was first announced.
The announcement comes at a difficult time for Tesla, BBC News reported. Musk was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2018 after tweeting about Tesla going private. The launch in 2019 of the $35,000 Model 3 came with a decision to lower prices across the board, at the expense of closing the majority of the company's retail outlets. But customers, employees and landlords complained, so the company reversed course and raise prices again, except for on the Model 3s, according to The Verge and BBC News.
Tesla car prices go up ~3% next week, except for $35k Model 3. Order online at https://t.co/46TXqRrsdr before then for current prices.— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1552363358.0
In addition, Consumer Reports revoked its recommendation of the Mode 3 in February, saying customers had reported problems with body hardware, paint and trim.
Executive Director of Industry Analysis at Edmunds Jessica Caldwell told The Verge the Model Y could be an important car for Tesla if it plays its cards right, seeing as SUVs currently sell very well in the U.S.:
"If Tesla truly wants to be a mainstream brand, it's going to have to figure out how to sell cars to people besides young men in California," Caldwell said in a statement. "Tesla has the right foundation for the Model Y to be a turning point: Tesla has the youngest buyer base of any luxury brand, and the Model X has more female buyers than any other vehicle in the brand's lineup. If the Model Y is priced right, offers a roomy interior, and delivers flawless safety and quality, it has the potential to be the 'it' vehicle for young families."
But Tesla does have competition. Most German automakers either already do or soon will ship electric SUVs.Transit, driven largely by fossil-fuel-powered cars and other land vehicles, is the fastest growing source of climate-change causing emissions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO.) The sector is also currently responsible for the largest share of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at 28 percent, according to the most up-to-date data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
By Venkat Viswanathan and Shashank Sripad
Electric vehicles — specifically, the Tesla Model 3 — are dominating the U.S. market for premium sedans, but are barely even on the radar in the busiest automotive category, which includes SUVs and pickup trucks.
The immediate reason is economics, but it has a lot to do with physics as well: Larger, heavier, less aerodynamic electric vehicles need larger, heavier, more expensive batteries to power them. Our research has looked at the energy needed to move cars and trucks along the road, and has identified the important factors that affect power usage.
We have developed an applet that can provide estimates of how much energy an electric vehicle would need to carry on board for a given driving range. This lets consumers determine how big a battery pack their car will need. The applet can provide a comparison of difference in energy consumption among sedans, pickup trucks and SUVs. Tesla's Model 3 and the Model Y crossover SUV will use the same battery pack, so our applet lets consumers compare the difference in driving range between a sedan and SUV.
How Do Electric Vehicles Work?
There are three forces resisting any effort to move a car on a flat road: wind resistance, friction from the road and inertia. Using the specifications of a vehicle's design, including its weight, dimensions and shape, we can calculate the energy needed to get the vehicle to start and stay moving. From there, we can determine how long the car can travel at a certain speed, and estimate how far it can go before needing to recharge its batteries.
The actual range of the vehicle can vary widely, depending on the exact driving scenario, such as moving on a highway or driving in a city. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a set of standardized drive profiles for different conditions (such as urban, highway or a combination), each of which specifies the speed of the car as it travels. The EPA also publishes a certification report that provides many characteristics, including the battery pack size and range of a given vehicle. This provides a consistent set of data with which we compare different cars, SUVs and trucks.
Rivian R1S Electric SUV - Exterior and Interior Walkaround - Debut 2018 LA Auto Show youtu.be
Those sorts of calculations are common for gas-powered vehicles. Electric cars also have an additional element to factor in: regenerative braking, which lets cars recharge their batteries when slowing down.
An early test of our approach involved the Tesla Model 3. We calculated how much energy it would need, how much it could regenerate along a trip and how much battery storage would need to be on board. We predicted that for the car to fulfill its promised 310-mile range before needing to recharge, it would have to store about 80 kilowatt-hours in its battery bank. That calculation was later borne out by the EPA certification report.
Since that first success, we have analyzed a wide range of electric vehicles, allowing us — and consumers — to compare their energy efficiency and power consumption, and earning us the title "Battery Police."
On to Electric Pickup Trucks
Trucks are bigger and, often, less aerodynamically designed than cars, meaning they typically encounter more wind resistance. Friction and inertia increase for heavier vehicles. All of those mean a truck needs more energy to get, and stay, moving.
Once we know the amount of energy, we can calculate the battery pack size or driving range. The price of battery packs has dropped significantly over the past decade.
By studying vehicle characteristics, we can help compare different electric vehicles' battery needs and costs, which can help consumers evaluate options when they're considering buying an electric car, a future SUV or an electric pickup truck. Within the applet, different vehicles currently can be selected. The change in driving range for different average driving speeds can be computed.
In addition, a custom electric vehicle with any battery pack size can be designed and the applet will answer questions about energy consumption, range and the total weight of the vehicle with the battery pack. This can be used to compare and understand the differences among vehicles.
EVs 101: Your Guide to Electric Vehicles https://t.co/UrqZtU34o3 #Electricvehicles #Transportation #Energy https://t.co/wgsHfIAC4m— Renewable Search (@Renewable Search)1547990585.0
Venkat Viswanathan is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Shashank Sripad is a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Disclosure statement: Venkat Viswanathan is a consultant for Pratt & Whitney. He is a technical consultant, owns stock options and is a member of Advisory Board at Zunum Aero. He is a technical consultant for Quantumscape. His research group receives funding from Airbus A^3, Quantumscape, Zunum Aero, Volkswagen, Toyota Research Institute.
Shashank Sripad receives funding from Zunum Aero and Airbus A^3 to undertake research as a Ph.D. Student at Carnegie Mellon University.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.
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"We are incredibly excited to announce that the standard Model 3, with 220 miles of range, a top speed of 130 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration of 5.6 seconds is now available at $35,000!" the company announced in a blog post. "Although lower in cost, it is built to achieve the same perfect 5-star safety rating as the longer-ranged version, which has the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the U.S. Government."
$35,000 Tesla Model 3 Available Now https://t.co/xZ0J4rbbgM— Tesla (@Tesla)1551392579.0
This is now the cheapest electric vehicle on offer from the company, bringing the Model 3 price-point down from the $42,900 it went for after a price reduction this February.
"From the beginning, this has been the goal," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on a press call reported by The Verge. "It's an incredible car."
The car is available to order now online in the U.S. and will be available in Europe and China in three to six months.
In addition to the newly-discounted Model 3, Tesla also announced other variations on the car at newly low prices, including a Model 3 Standard Range Plus for $37,000 that gets 240 miles on the charge and a Mid Range for $40,000 that gets 264 miles per charge.
Model 3s now available Standard Range: 220mi, $35k Standard Range Plus: 240mi, $37k Mid Range: 264mi, $40k Long R… https://t.co/A891MuqeJK— Tesla (@Tesla)1551399077.0
The move squares with the goal of the company as announced by Musk in 2017, according to USA Today.
"The whole point of Tesla was to build a great affordable electric car," Musk said when the first Model 3s were released.
The lower prices come at a cost though: Tesla is moving to all online sales. This is what allowed the company to reduce all vehicle prices by an average of six percent. The company will shut down most of its retail stores, keeping a few open in particularly busy locations as showcases and information hubs. This means Tesla will have to lay off staff, Musk admitted on the press call reported by The Verge.
"There's no other way for us to achieve the savings required to provide this car and be financially sustainable," he said. "I wish there was some other way, but unfortunately, it will entail reduction in force on the retail side. There's no way around it."
In order to bypass the need for a test drive, the company touted a generous return policy.
"You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free. With the highest consumer satisfaction score of any car on the road, we are confident you will want to keep your Tesla," the announcement said.
Musk hinted at the announcement with a cryptic series of three tweets on Wednesday.
"Thursday 2pm." "California." "Some Tesla news." he wrote.
Some Tesla news— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1551255713.0
Musk has gotten in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before for his tweets, as USA Today explained:
On Monday, the SEC filed a claim against Musk for not complying with an agreement reached with the Wall Street regulatory agency in late September. The SEC accused Musk of securities fraud after the Tesla chairman tweeted that "Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019."
It is not known if Tesla approved Musk's tweets Wednesday, but they caused its stock to jump five percent.Transportation is responsible for the largest share of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the most up-to-date data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Most of this is due to the burning of fossil fuels for vehicles including cars.
Top Clean Cars and Trucks of 2018 https://t.co/GEEUua5BX6 #renewable #solar #wind #PV https://t.co/ZX5w810xNn— Renewable Search (@Renewable Search)1518271815.0
One of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is from burning fossil fuels for transportation, so accelerating the electrification of our planes, trains and automobiles is crucial in a clean energy future.
In a recent interview with CNBC's Squawk Box, Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, spoke about the Japanese automaker's plans to offer an electrified option for every model in the Toyota and Lexus line-up by 2025. This includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, full electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
"We are working on an entire portfolio of hybrids which we have been selling since 1997, plug-in hybrids, full battery electric vehicles as well as our fuel cell vehicles," Carter said on the show. "Those vehicles represent about 9 percent of our sales in 2018. We have set a goal that it will be 15 percent of our sales next year in 2020."
Toyota aims for electrified option for every model by 2025 www.youtube.com
Toyota's ambitions are a major shift away from traditional gas guzzling vehicles—and that commitment should be commended.
However, instead of pouring its resources into purely electric cars—à la Elon Musk's Tesla—Toyota is focusing more on gas-electric vehicles.
"Our strategy is to keep utilizing our hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and eventually bring in battery-electric vehicles as the market grows," Carter told CNBC.
But Toyota could be missing the boat by sidestepping fully electric cars, sales of which are taking off and poised to accelerate.
"Toyota's emphasis on hybrids comes at a time when U.S. demand for the traditional gas-electric vehicle is dropping. LMC Automotive estimates full hybrid sales in the U.S. fell 6 percent last year, while Toyota's hybrid sales dropped 5 percent.
The lower price of gasoline gives potential buyers less incentive to opt for a hybrid over a model powered by an internal combustion engine. Another factor: The growing number of electric models for sale gives eco-friendly buyers the option to plug in and stop pumping gas. In that area, Tesla, not Toyota has become the clear leader."
Toyota sold about 28,000 plug-ins in U.S. last year, compared to the 191,000 EVs Tesla reportedly sold, LeBeau noted.
Fred Lambert, the editor in chief of the electric vehicle blog Electrek, also said it was "dumb" for Toyota to not focus on a mass-market EV.
"If the EV market is small right now, it's not because people don't want to buy EVs, it's because the industry is not manufacturing enough attractive all-electric vehicles at a decent price," he wrote in a blog post.
Toyota's commitment to an electrified fleet was announced in Decemeber 2017 an environmental push. The company said it would no longer develop models without an electrified version.
"Electrified vehicles, which are effective for economical consumption of fuel and promoting usage of alternative fuels, are indispensable in helping to solve current environmental issues," Toyota said then in a press release.
Government subsidies for electric vehicles and solar panels are an important tool to help accelerate a clean energy… https://t.co/1NhzEYsvK0— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1544002571.0
When it goes live in three months, Hyundai's 150-megawatt system will overtake Tesla's 100-megawatt facility in South Australia as the world's largest industrial energy storage system, Independent.ie reported. Sorry, Elon Musk.
It's an exciting—albeit geeky—race to help the planet wean off environmentally harmful fossil fuels. That's because if we want to accelerate the world's renewable energy transition, we'll have to modernize the energy grid and much of that depends on energy storage technology.
Tesla famously built its ginormous battery within 100 days after Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes dared Musk to help fix the South Australian's electricity woes. The system, which is connected to Neoen's Hornsdale wind farm, has exceeded expectations after switching on about a year ago. The lightning-fast system has saved about $40 million in grid stabilization costs, prevented blackouts and helped restore confidence in the state's energy resources, the Australian Financial Review noted.
Hyundai's $45 million battery is being built for the metal smelting company KoreaZinc, which intends to be energy self-sufficient and wants to reduce electricity costs, according to Climate Action. The company estimates it will save almost $60 million in electricity expenses over the next three years once the facility is built. KoreaZinc is also complying with the South Korean government's larger efforts to boost renewables and mitigate air pollution, the publication added.
These large-scale projects are enabled by less expensive battery prices, with prices dropping by almost half since 2014, according to Bloomberg.
Other entrepreneurs are joining in the big battery race, including billionaire Sanjeev Gupta's SIMEC ZEN Energy, which plans to build a 120-megawatt battery near Adelaide. Tesla is also vying to build another giant Powerpack system in Colorado for Xcel Energy Inc., an electric utility operating in eight Western and Midwestern states.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) estimated that developers announced 1,650 megawatts per hour of new lithium-ion battery projects in 2017, four times the amount for all of 2016.
"Musk has set a benchmark on how quickly you can install and commission a battery of this size," Ali Asghar, a BNEF senior associate, said in a Bloomberg interview.
Falling costs are "making them a compelling mainstream option for energy-storage applications in many areas around the world, and projects even bigger than Tesla's are now under construction."
Battery Storage Revolution Could 'Sound the Death Knell for Fossil Fuels' https://t.co/HXbegsfUqn @Tesla @elonmusk… https://t.co/7d7APPuBUd— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1516303748.0
By Dana Drugmand
Koch Industries is calling for the elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), all while claiming that it does not oppose plug-in cars and inviting the elimination of oil and gas subsidies that the petroleum conglomerate and its industry peers receive.
Outgoing Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller introduced a bill in September that would lift the sales cap on electric vehicles eligible for a federal tax credit, and replace the cap with a deadline that would dictate when the credit would start being phased out.
Under the current tax credit for EVs, once a manufacturer sells 200,000 EVs in the U.S. the amount of the credit gets slashed in half, then halved again. The full credit amount is $7,500. Tesla has already hit the 200,000 cap and GM will soon reach it, so both companies would benefit from a tax credit extension via eliminating the sales cap. Heller's bill lifts the 200,000 vehicle limit and substitutes a phase-out period starting in 2022.
In a letter to senators dated Oct. 24, Koch Industries lobbyist Philip Ellender urges opposition to the expansion of EV tax credits through 2022. Ellender claims that the tax credits primarily benefit wealthy consumers and that subsidization interferes with "innovation and consumer choice."
The letter cites two studies, each by a right-wing think tank. One study comes from the Pacific Research Institute, which has received fossil fuel funding—including more than $1.7 million from Koch-related foundations and $615,000 from ExxonMobil. The PRI study, "Costly Subsidies for the Rich: Quantifying the Subsidies Offered to Battery Electric Powered Cars," emphasizes that "the majority of the dollar benefits from energy and electric car subsidies are paid to tax filers in the higher income tax brackets."
The other study is from the Manhattan Institute, another "free market think tank" that takes in money from the Koch network and Exxon. The study paints a misleading picture of EVs and their subsidies.
In addition to citing biased studies by groups tied to Koch money, Ellender claims in the letter, "We do not oppose electric vehicles."
This sentiment echoes the company's 2016 advertorial, in which Koch Industries claimed to be "all for electric vehicles."
Ellender also claims that Koch Industries is against any and all energy subsidies, even ones that benefit the company. According to the letter:
Instead of expanding this subsidy for wealthy EV owners, Congress should eliminate it along with all other energy incentives—including eliminating any incentives given to us and our competitors where we may participate. We are focused on long-term value creation, not short-term windfalls.
In reality, while Koch Industries is claiming publicly to support ending fossil fuel subsidies (along with EV and clean energy incentives), Koch lobbyists have long worked to ensure that the petroleum industry continues to get subsidized.
As Koch vs. Clean previously pointed out, "In a detailed 2011 report on Koch Industries, the Center for Public Integrity wrote: 'Oil is the core of the Koch business empire, and the company's lobbyists and officials have successfully fought to preserve the industry's tax breaks and credits.' The report documented that Koch lobbyists have worked to preserve billions of dollars in oil industry subsidies, including the Section 199 manufacturing tax deduction and the 'last-in, first out' accounting rule."
In fact, according to the International Business Times, Koch Industries has itself directly secured subsidies totaling more than $195 million.
The Koch network also lobbied for the Trump tax cuts that became law late last year. The corporate tax cut is not specific to energy, but it benefits giant corporations including Big Oil and Koch Industries nonetheless. Americans for Tax Fairness estimated that the Kochs would save more than $1 billion just this year from the tax cut—a significant windfall for a corporate behemoth that claims, "We are focused on long-term value creation, not short-term windfalls."
Koch vs. California: These Groups Want Pruitt to Undo the State’s Right to Regulate Auto Emissions… https://t.co/QqVojSadKD— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1523458248.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate DeSmogBlog.
Solar energy panels and wind turbines in Shanghai, China. Chinaface / Getty Images
Facebook announced Tuesday it will slash greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent and transition global operations to 100 percent renewable energy by the end of 2020 in efforts to "help fight climate change."
The switch would drastically reduce the electric car maker's manufacturing-related emissions, CleanTechnica noted.
Facebook, which has more than 30,000 employees and data centers around the world, said Tuesday it has already bought more than 3 gigawatts of new solar and wind energy since its first renewable energy purchase in 2013. The social media giant's goal of supporting half of its facilities with renewable energy was met a year early in 2017.
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, our smartphones, tablets and other internet-connected devices could produce 3.5 percent of global emissions within 10 years and 14 percent by 2040, Climate Home News reported last year.
A 2015 Greenpeace report found that if the internet were a country, its electricity demand would currently rank sixth. The report underscored the importance of tech companies going green, as they have immense clout to drive a renewable energy revolution.
"CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reaffirmed Facebook's place among business leaders in the race to be coal-free and 100 percent renewable-powered," Greenpeace senior corporate campaigner Gary Cook said in a statement.
Cook added, "If we are to stay within the 1.5 degree threshold that scientists say is crucial to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need many more companies stepping up to adopt aggressive renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals."
The Gigafactory is part of Musk's vision to fast-track a cleaner, more sustainable future. It was always designed to be entirely powered by renewable energy sources, with the goal of achieving net zero energy.
The Gigafactory is being built in phases so Tesla and its partners can manufacture products while the building continues to expand. It officially kicked off the mass production of lithium-ion battery cells in January 2017.
The structure already has a footprint of more than 1.9 million square feet and more than 4.9 million square feet of operational space across several floors. It's currently about 30 percent complete, but once it's finished it will likely hold the title of world's largest building by footprint, Tesla says.
In March, Tesla started building a massive rooftop solar array on top of the giant building. 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.