During the past several years, innovative automobile company Tesla Motors has pounced on the energy storage industry. It began with the launch of the Powerwall which was big, but nothing compared to the Tesla’s next creation: the Tesla Gigafactory. This is Tesla Motor’s newest production site located outside of Sparks, Nevada in the desert. It is becoming one of the most amazing engineering wonders ever constructed. The innovation, scale and efficiency are incredible and the building is not even entirely constructed yet. The following article provides everything you need to know about Tesla’s Gigafactory.
The most noticeable (and amazing) feature of the Gigafactory is its size. Constructed on a 3,000-acre lot (three times the size of Central Park), the square footage of the actual factory is 126-acres. This equates to 100 football fields of physical factory. The height is 71-feet tall and, upon completion, the structure will be the second-largest building by volume in the world, only slightly behind Boeing’s Everett plant based out of Washington State.
Although the size of the building is incredible in itself, the internal features are innovative and nothing short of amazing. These state-of-the-art features set it apart from all other manufacturing plants around the world. The foundation is estimated at costing $16 million and is completely earthquake-proof. It is constructed from four different structures across four different foundations thus allowing the building to flex more in the instance of an earthquake.
Another astounding feature is that the entire factory will be powered by renewable energy. Given that it is the size of a small city, this is an amazing feat. The roof of the factory will be lined with solar panels with extra panels being installed on the neighboring hills. Since there is plenty of sun in the Nevada desert, generating power should be no issue for the plant. The Gigafactory will receive additional energy using wind and geothermal power. Once finished, the new factory will be the standard for all future energy-efficient construction projects.
In an interview, CEO Elon Musk mentioned that the designers are ensuring that it looks good but also naturally blends into the surrounding environment. Although it is a factory, the company still cares about its aesthetics. Therefore, for it to fit in with the Nevada desert, Tesla decided to construct the structure in the shape of a diamond that is aligned to true north. This will make it easier to place solar panels at an ideal angle that allows the company to map equipment utilizing GPS. The factory will house 6,500 employees upon completion, all of who will be involved in the plant’s incredible ability to recycle.
Musk has repeatedly mentioned that the Gigafactory will produce Tesla batteries so they are more affordable to the mass market. One method of doing so is by cutting material costs utilizing advanced recycling techniques. Musk mentioned that Tesla is attempting to do something that no other battery manufacturer has ever done: import old, retired trains and export them as batteries. At the moment, Tesla Motors does not know exactly how they plan to process such large components into small batteries but they are excited to try.
In addition to the trains, the Gigafactory will try to recycle everything else in existence into batteries, even old battery packs. Recycling continues to be a major conversation within the growth of the alternative energy sector and Tesla has been intently listening to that dialogue.
The main function of the plant is to produce batteries for Tesla automobiles as well as new commercial and residential solar batteries that the company has introduced into the marketplace: Products such as electronic devices and computer utilize lithium-ion batteries. Ironically, the company will soon become the biggest manufacturer of these batteries in the world. The plan is to produce more battery cells in this factory by 2020 than all other lithium-ion battery markers combined in 2013.
Although lithium-ion batteries are not new to the industry, they have become a major component in the success of Tesla and other similar companies due to their unique properties. Lithium is the lightest metal on earth but also has the greatest electrochemical potential. This indicates that lithium delivers the highest energy density per weight, more efficiently and far lighter than the more mainstream lead-acid battery. As a result of the extra weight in lead-acid batteries, they are cumbersome to transport. Also, they are much less convenient for the average residential consumer.
The growth of this technology has many benefits. When compared to standard batteries, the lithium-ion battery is much cleaner, easier to recycle, lasts longer and does not require as much maintenance. Tesla uses these batteries in their state-of-the-art vehicles as well as the Powerwall, their new solar energy storage battery. The popularity of home batteries has recently skyrocketed for many reasons.
Why Buy Home Batteries?
The masses are purchasing home batteries in numbers because they are the simplest method of solving the solar energy issue of the technology being an intermittent energy source. Given that the sun is not always shining, on cloudy days, little electricity is being generated. Therefore, home batteries are the best method of storage energy for use on cloudy days.
Tesla’s home battery product, Powerwall, charges utilizing electricity generated from residential solar panels. Musk notes that all homes with solar panels need to have some sort of home battery to storage energy. Without the battery, excess solar energy is sold back to the power company and then purchase back again, at a higher price, in the evening. This mismatch increases the energy demand on power plants which results in higher carbon emissions. In other words, this is a lose-lose situation that the Powerwall solves.
The brilliant minds at Tesla are really creating a ripple in the automotive and energy storage energy. The Gigafactory will certainly change the world for the better by providing consumers with an easier method of generating and retaining energy while utilizing renewable energy which does not harm the environment.