The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Why Elon Musk Now Wants to Build Hundreds of Tesla ‘Gigafactories’
The EV maker wants to build hundreds of them.
Of course, the first one has yet to be built. In fact, the company has yet to even decide whether Texas, Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico would make the most sense. However, that didn't stop CEO Elon Musk from dreaming aloud at the World Energy Innovation Forum, which was hosted last week at Tesla's assembly plant in Fremont, CA. He originally said the gigafactory could eventually push the cost of lithium-ion cells down by 30 percent, but has since amped up that prediction.
“I think we can probably do better than 30 percent,” Musk said, according to Bloomberg. "[With automakers increasing demand] there’s going to need to be lots of gigafactories. Just to supply auto demand you need 200 gigafactories.”
Despite the mystery surrounding the first gigafactory's location, Musk said a groundbreaking could take place as soon as next month. Battery production could start in 2017. The facility would also produce stationary energy storage devices to SolarCity Corp., one of Musk's other companies.
In response to Musk's comments, the Wall Street Journal asked experts and members of the industry if they believed the executive's plans were realistic. While none of the respondents said, ‘no,' nearly all expressed that building one gigafactory would be a huge risk, let alone hundreds.
"If I were in Musk's shoes, I'd be on a jet tomorrow to go to [battery makers] LG Chem, Panasonic, GS Yuasa, and telling them this is our long-term projection. But if [they couldn't commit to meeting my needs], I wouldn't be discussing this grand design, this mythical plant," said Bill Reinert, who was national manager of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s advanced-technology group from 1990 to 2013.
"What I would start out with would be bare-bones manufacturing and make sure that we are making as many of the product as we need."
Musk told CBS' 60 Minutes earlier this year that he's not only unafraid of failure, but that he actually expected his company to fail. Some of the Wall Street Journal respondents said the gigafactory venture could either be a booming success or a death blow to Tesla's hopes.
"The difficult part is if you get out in front of demand and the industry just doesn't make it," said David Vieau, who was CEO of lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems for a decade before it was purchased by the Wanxiang Group in a bankruptcy auction.
"It could be a tremendous success in five years, but if you are caught with a factory at the [wrong] time, that's where the obituary comes in. What [Tesla] is saying is that they need the capacity. It's unlikely their suppliers are going to take the risk. They are going to have to take it themselves.
"The risk associated with their growth will be theirs."
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jennifer Molidor, PhD
Climate change, habitat loss and pollution are overwhelming our planet. Thankfully, these enormous threats are being met by a bold new wave of environmental activism.
Trump Makes Strange Claim About Water Efficient Toilets: 'People Are Flushing Toilets 10 Times, 15 Times'
President Donald Trump mocked water-efficiency standards in new constructions last week. Trump said, "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion." Trump asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a federal review of those standards since, he claimed with no evidence, that they are making bathrooms unusable and wasting water, as NBC News reported.
By Carey Gillam
Former Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant will have to testify in person at a St. Louis-area trial set for January in litigation brought by a cancer-stricken woman who claims her disease was caused by exposure to the company's Roundup herbicide and that Monsanto covered up the risks instead of warning consumers.
A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
- New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egypt Was Brought Down by ... ›
- Climate Change Could Set Off Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Has 18 'Very High Threat' Volcanoes - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Discover 91 Volcanoes Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Sheet ... ›