The much talked about battery storage ‘Gigafactory’ that US electric vehicle maker Tesla is building in Nevada will be a zero net energy consumer, according to details revealed by a Tesla executive recently, its rooftops – and nearby hilltops – blanketed in solar panels.
The latest update on the project that has been the talk of the global battery boom came from Tesla’s chief technical officer, JB Straubel, as part of a talk at the University of Nevada.
Straubel told the university that “from the get-go,” the company wanted to make the factory a beacon of energy efficiency and sustainability.
“So, you know, the most visible thing we are doing is covering the entire site with solar power,” he said, as reported on Treehugger.
“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. …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.”
As TreeHugger points out, a lot is hingeing on the success of this Tesla offshoot, with its plans to produce more batteries than the whole world was producing in 2013.
Without it, Tesla will have trouble supplying the thousands of EVs it plans to start mobilising, and will struggle to get prices down low enough to shift its target from the prestige end of the market to Joe Average.
Back to Straubel, however, who added that Tesla also wants to tightly 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.
“…There’s a heat pump technology that actually ends up way more efficient than just burning natural gas for steam. And then, we have a facility that has basically no emissions. The only emissions are related to the vehicles that might go there that aren’t electric or things like that. But we’ll try to attack that one piece at a time.”