Info for those who insist or still think renewable energy and EV batteries are still a pipe dream …

Info for those who insist or still think renewable energy and EV batteries are still a pipe dream …

KUALA LUMPUR (October 2017): From comments posted on Facebook, many still think that renewable energy technology is still inferior and a pipe dream.

They opine that the batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and solar energy are still impractical and costly to be commercialised.

Well, just think twice about it. The manufacturers are slowly but surely making steady progress to make renewable power sources as compact as possible and as affordable as possible.

I Love Malaysia-China Silk Road opines that China is progressing at lightning speed towards EV perfection and commercialisation and also renewable energy sources like solar and hydro power.

And, far-sighted innovative corporates and investors in Malaysia should consider forging joint-ventures with China to leverage on renewable energy technology, research and development and production.

China is not the only country that is vigorously pursuing renewable energy technology perfection.

The following four news reports posted by treehugger about India’s Tesla’s progress in solar energy is simply mesmerising:

"Tesla supplying solar power to Hawaii all day and all of the night

Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter)
Technology / Solar Technology
March 13, 2017

© Tesla
Solar City and Tesla take the Kinks out of solar power with plenty of PowerPacks

Hawaii gets most of its electricity from burning diesel fuel, an expensive and polluting proposition. But it has lots of sun that can generate power during the daytime, and now Tesla is installing the batteries needed to power it at night.

Solar City, now owned by Tesla, installed 13 megawatts of solar panels and Tesla installed 52 megawatt-hours of Powerpack batteries, enough power to supply 4500 homes day and night, for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. It is enough juice to reduce the need for 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel each year. Tesla and Solar city installed the package under a 20 year fixed price contract costing the utility 13.9 cents per KWh, slightly less than the cost of diesel-powered electricity.

According to Darell Etherington in TechCrunch, 

The Kauai facility is meant to show what Tesla can offer for higher-demand commercial projects, and it’s a stake in the ground that’s designed to pique the interest of energy providers the world over – not just those perfectly situated to make the most of available sunlight, according to [CTO] Straubel.

“It’s immediately a cost benefit,” Straubel said. “And that’s true in many places around the world, it’s not just true on islands like this in Hawaii. It’s not intuitive; most people, they think this is more expensive still today, but the cost of solar and the cost of storage has come down so quickly that these projects now are cost-effective in many locations.”

Last summer, when Tesla was planning to buy Solar City, Derek wrote about all the Negative Nellies and Debbie Downers who were against the idea. (Oh, and the EV Eeyores too) However this installation, and the recent one in California that we wrote about in Tesla kills the duck with big batteries may well silence the skeptics because the evidence is right there in living colour, in dollars and cents: Solar power that runs all night, that’s cheaper than diesel.

Soon it may well be cheaper than any other fossil fuel because at least for now, the sun is still free.

1.2-million sq. ft. solar panel 'Gigafactory' in Buffalo almost ready, will make 1 GW/year

Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR)
Technology / Solar Technology
January 25, 2016

Promo image SC/BN
Soon after SolarCity acquired solar panel maker Silevo in the summer of 2014, it announced the construction of a 1.2-million-square-foot 'Solar Gigafactory' in Buffalo, New York. The move had two main goals: 1) For the solar installer to get its own secure supply of high-efficiency solar panels (Silevo panels are currently 21% efficient, but the company claims that they can get to 24%) and 2) drive down the cost of the panels and of installing them.
SolarCity/Promo image
If the panels are higher efficiency, you need fewer of them per roof for a given capacity, lowering installation costs, and if you make them in very large quantities in a 'Gigafactory', you can further reduce costs through economies of scale.
SolarCity/Promo image
The Buffalo solar gigafactory, which can be seen in the photo at the top of this article, aims to start producing solar cells in 2016, with a ramping up to 1 GW of annual capacity by 2017. If all goes well, the facility could eventually be expanded to 5 GW/year at some point. The solar cells produced there have a target price of around $0.50/watt, which would make them very competitive with other power sources.

While the exterior of the plant seems pretty close to complete, there are still 950 workers finishing the interior. Once operational, SolarCity says that it will create about 500 jobs, with the possibility of more if they go forward with the expansion to 5 GW/year.

SolarCity won't have trouble finding use for the production from the Buffalo plant: Their own demand for panels already exceeds what it will be able to produce, so they'll still have to buy from other solar panel manufacturers. This makes the 5 GW/year expansion seem very likely.

Tesla/Promo image

One thing that's obviously missing from the factory is solar panels on the roof, like with the Tesla battery Gigafactory (pictured above). I hope that SolarCity will eat its own cooking and do it -- otherwise it's a missed opportunity!

Here's a model of what the finished thing should look like:

NY State Gov/Promo image
The Bufallo solar gigafactory is expected to start production in about 6 months

Via TWC News, Electrek

Tesla kills the duck with big batteries

Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter)
Energy / Energy Policy
January 31, 2017

© Tesla
One of the problems that comes from reliance on solar power is the “duck curve” where the solar panels produce more power than is needed during the day, and standby power is needed in the evening when demand is high and the sun goes down. The common solution has been to turn on natural gas “peaker” plants to produce power when the needed in those few hours. But in Southern California, a big natural gas leak turned into what Melissa called an epic ecological disaster, sending utilities searching for an alternative to gas.
© If it looks like a duck ... (Photo: California ISO)
One of those alternatives that people dreamed about just a few years ago was giant batteries, and Elon Musk promised that he would make them in his new Nevada factory. What is really astonishing is that in just three months, Tesla has delivered a giant battery farm with 396 stacks of batteries that can provide enough electricity to power 15,000 houses for four hours, about how long it takes to shave the peaks, to kill the duck.

Even the experts are shocked at the speed this is happening at: According to the New York Times,

“I had relatively limited expectations for the battery industry in advance of 2020,” said Michael J. Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “I thought that it would not really accelerate and begin to penetrate the electric grid or the transportation world for a while to come. Once again, technology is clearly moving faster than we can regulate.”

Natural gas peaker plants are expensive and controversial; you want them near the user, but the NIMBYs come out in force. Battery packs are much simpler, they are modular and they are scalable. According to Tesla Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel in Bloomberg,

“There were teams working out there 24 hours a day, living in construction trailers and doing the commissioning work at two in the morning,” Straubel said. “It feels like the kind of pace that we need to change the world.”

MIT Technology Review's Jamie Condliffe is a bit of a skeptic, noting that lithium batteries are expensive and that they degrade.

Tesla doesn’t say how many cycles that the batteries in its Powerpack systems, which make up the installation, can tolerate before they degrade and reach the end of their useful life. But like other lithium-ion batteries, it’s likely in the thousands—probably around 5,000, the same as its Powerwall units. That’s not bad in a domestic setting, but could be quickly devoured in a grid setting.

Others do not think this is too much of a problem, that battery prices will keep dropping, and that they will keep getting better.

Tesla's Gigafactory will produce as much renewable energy as it uses (net zero energy)

Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR)
Energy / Renewable Energy
November 16, 2015

Promo image Tesla
The battery 'Gigafactory' that Tesla is building in Nevada is the centerpiece of its whole mass-market electric car strategy. Without it, the company will have trouble securing enough battery supply to make hundreds of thousands of EVs (which they plan to do for the upcoming, more affordable Model 3, to be unveiled in March 2016), and it will have trouble reducing its prices enough to attract Mr. and Mrs. Everybody (the Gigafactory is expected to slash costs by at least 30% through economies of scale and high-tech manufacturing).

A lot has been written about how big the Gigafactory will be: It's going to be one of the largest building on Earth (how it ranks will depend how much the original plan is expanded), and it will produce more batteries when it is fully operational than the whole world was producing in 2013, as you can see in the graph below.

Update: Elon Musk wants the next Gigafactory to be in Germany, has conducted secret talks

Tesla/Screen capture
But relatively little has been written about another very cool aspect of the project: It will be a 'net zero' energy consumer and have carbon neutral operations.

Tesla's Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel, gave some details on how that will work at a recent talk at the University of Nevada:

Renaud Janson helped transcribe some of the relevant parts (big thanks to him!):

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.

Most factories could do this, if not tot he extent of the Gigafactory, at least to some extent. And new factories that are being planned today should definitely be conceived with renewable energy in mind. It's a waste to have these vast rooftops be unused.

Youtube/Screen capture
This is the right approach:

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.

Don't do what everybody else does and then try to fix it. Design from the start with a cleaner approach in mind, so you won't even be tempted to take the traditional (polluting) approach.

Youtube/Screen capture
So it’s kind of been a fun activity and just, a lot of challenges that come up. But in every single step of the process, we have been able to reinvent and come up with solutions. 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.

Why don't more factories use this heat pump technology that turns out to be more efficient than natural gas? Probably because they all have a natural gas pipe coming in by default, so they don't even investigate alternatives. Sometimes constraints (ie. carbon neutral, net zero energy) are the best catalyst for fresh thinking!

You can see a video shot by a drone flying over the Gigafactory here:

Tesla/Promo image
Via YoutubeCleanTechnica

© Tesla
This TreeHugger has been forced to eat a lot of words recently after complaining how net zero building and rooftop solar was going to create huge problems; I noted recently that Tesla’s power wall “is a real game-changer, that erases so many of the problems I have had with rooftop solar and its dependence on the grid, the whole duck curve thing, just gone.”

Now that they can replace expensive and controversial peaker plants with battery packs, the game changes again in favour of solar and wind. Straubel of Tesla is right- this will change the world.

22 Amazing Renewable Energy Projects That Pave The Way to a Cleaner Future

Attila Nagy
3/12/16 12:00pm
There’s a growing demand for greener, safer renewable energy sources. Sun, wind, water, biomass, waves and tides, and the heat of the soil, all provide alternatives to non-renewable energy. The following collection showcases some of the most amazing renewable energy projects and prototypes from the past few decades, including quite a few you’ve probably never heard of before.
Located in the Mojave Desert 40 miles southwest of Las Vegas, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is an operational solar thermal power project. The facility deploys 173,500 heliostat mirrors spread over 3,500 acres, focusing solar energy on boilers located atop three solar power towers. The project—constructed by Bechtel and owned by NRG Solar, Google, and BrightSource Energy—is currently the largest solar thermal plant in operation in the world … for more, go to