Energy Exchange

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

The following is an excerpt from Tesla, Inventor of the Modern, a new book by Dick Munson published in May 2018.

Nikola Tesla gave us the electric motor, long-distance electricity transmission, radio, robots, and remote control — the very foundations of our modern economy. Perhaps less well known is that he also was a clean-energy pioneer, and he remains an inspiration to today’s solar and battery entrepreneurs, including Elon Musk, who views him as a hero and contributed $1 million to help restore Tesla’s laboratory on Long Island.

Tesla marked his clean-energy leadership with a 1900 article in The Century — then the nation’s largest-circulation periodical. Published 118 years ago, “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy, with Special References to the Harnessing of the Sun’s Energy” was one of the earliest, detailed looks at capturing power from the sun and wind.

At his core, Tesla appreciated efficiency and hated energy waste, complaining that we “do not utilize more than 2 percent of coal’s energy” to make electricity. “The man who should stop this senseless waste would be a great benefactor of humanity,” he declared. Read More »

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What Tesla’s Powerwall Home Energy Storage Battery Means for Texas

Source: flickr/genphys

Source: flickr/genphys

There is enough solar energy potential in Texas to power the world twice over. Yet currently we rank 10th in the nation (behind New Jersey) with 330 megawatts (MW), which is enough to power about 57,000 homes. Texas is a state of almost nine million households. That’s a lot of rooftops, and when you add the number of commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and garages, we are talking about a significant amount of surface area.

Meanwhile, the cost of solar panels has dropped 80 percent since 2008 and prices for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have declined markedly in recent years, dropping 29 percent from 2010 to 2013. Moreover, jobs in the solar industry are booming –SolarCity is hiring significantly more people than leading tech companies like Twitter.

So, what will it take to energize rooftop solar growth in Texas? Well, a recent announcement from one of Texas’ “frenemies” may be part of the solution. Read More »

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Gigafactory Proves that Tesla is Ahead of the Clean Energy Curve, But Does Texas Stand to Benefit?

Source: Texas Public Radio

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, speaking to Texas Legislature in 2013. Source: Texas Public Radio.

Disruptive technologies tend to follow a certain trajectory. First, they are outliers, often ignored, and typically on the cusp of never entering the market. But, for the successful ones, a tipping point is ultimately reached, after which the technology goes viral and changes the status quo it was designed to replace. In the new energy revolution, Tesla is one such company that has surpassed the tipping point and threatens to change the way we produce, distribute, and consume electricity.

It isn’t just Tesla’s sleek and beautiful electric vehicles that will be key to disrupting the status quo. At a current price point of around $80,000, most people en masse won’t be able to afford a Tesla, even though the company has plans to develop more affordable models. But what makes Tesla unique, besides the strange genius of CEO Elon Musk, is the potential diversification of its offerings, highlighted recently by the company’s announcement to build the GigaFactory, a $5-billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers.

Set to open in about three years, the new GigaFactory will be large enough to manufacture more lithium-ion batteries than the entire industry produces now, and due to its sheer scale, is expected to reduce the cost of batteries by almost one-third. Read More »

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization / Tagged | Read 1 Response

Auto dealers vs. Tesla: Why the market will decide

This commentary originally appeared on EDF’s Voices blog.

Source: jurvetson/Flickr

The European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and the State of California have all set ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Given that a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation (including 29% of U.S. emissions), it will be very tough to meet this goal without “decarbonizing” our cars and trucks.

The most obvious solution is electric vehicles (EVs) charged by clean energy sources like solar or wind. While several startup EV companies – including Fisker, Coda and Better Place – have struggled, the Tesla car company seems to be succeeding. At least that’s the current view of the markets: Tesla shares have more than tripled since March and in May the company raised almost $1 billion in new capital.

Read More »

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Electrifying big trucks and buses could spark a $47B global market

We should thank Ford, GMC and Tesla for capturing the world’s attention with flashy promotions of their upcoming all-electric F-150 pickup, Hummer and Cybertruck. If there’s one thing that will make you think differently about electric vehicles, it’s the image of a Hummer owner plugging in instead of filling up.

But when it comes to electric trucks, the consumer market is just the tip of the iceberg.

The electrification of the medium- and heavy-duty truck sector — everything from semis and delivery vans to transit buses and garbage trucks — is already underway, and analysts say it could spark a $47 billion global industry.

Read More »

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Some of the biggest names in trucking are calling for federal support of electric trucks and buses

Momentum is building for federal support of truck electrification, and today’s launch of the National Zero-Emission Truck Coalition is a great example of how federal incentives are urgently needed to clean up our air, create tens of thousands of jobs and solidify American competitiveness in the global zero-emission truck market.

Organized by CALSTART, the ZET coalition is a group of America’s biggest truck equipment manufacturers, suppliers and key stakeholders, such as Cummins, Daimler, PACCAR, Eaton, Tesla, Rivian along with Environmental Defense Fund. This knowledgeable set of stakeholders is advocating for federal charging and refueling infrastructure and increased federal investments in advanced clean transportation technologies.

The group is also advocating for a national point-of-sale incentive program to help drive the near-term production of zero-emission trucks and buses in the United States — a policy that for the last decade has stood out for its effective support of clean vehicles at the state level. Also called a “voucher incentive program,” this incentive structure streamlines access to grants that directly support the purchases of clean trucks and buses, including battery electric and fuel cell vehicles.

Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, California, Climate, Electric Vehicles, Illinois, Jobs, New York / Comments are closed