Tesla Races to Finish ‘Gigafactory’ in Time for Model 3 Rollout

SPARKS, Nev.— Tesla Motors Inc. is scrambling to finish building its massive $5 billion battery factory here years ahead of schedule to meet demand for its coming cheaper sedan and provide power for new types of vehicles Chief Executive Elon Musk says are under development. Tesla has doubled the number of people constructing the “gigafactory,” which sits on more than 3,000 acres near Reno. Now, 1,000 workers build seven days a week on two shifts in an effort to start churning out lithium-ion cells by late 2016. “We have to be ready with cell and pack production well ahead of vehicle production,” JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer and co-founder, said during a walk-through of the fa

Pumped Up: Renewables Growth Revives Old Energy-Storage Method

Moving water uphill lets producers of solar and wind power bank energy for use when it is needed most. Forget about Tesla Motors Inc.’s batteries: The hottest way to store energy in the electricity business today is a century-old technology that involves moving water to stash power. Known as pumped storage, the giant facilities push large volumes of water uphill when there is surplus electricity, and then let gravity move it back down through turbines to generate hydroelectric power when extra kilowatts are needed. Newer technologies for energy storage—including batteries, flywheels, compressed air and ice—are under development, but the proven, old-school solution of storing water as a proxy

Facebook takes flight - Inside the test flight of Facebook’s first internet drone

Facebook is building a drone that can beam internet from the sky. And it just passed a huge milestone: its first functional test flight, staying aloft for 90 minutes above Yuma, Arizona (3x times longer than planned). Aquila is a solar powered drone with a massive wingspan of 141ft (a Boeing 747 has a wingspan of 113ft). It flies as slowly as possible, using only 2,000 watts of electricity (equivalent to that of 3 hair dryers). Aquila is built out of carbon fiber and only weighs 900lbs (half the weight of a smartcar). The laser communications system can deliver data 10 times faster than the current standard. And its so precise it can target a dime from 10 miles away. The project star

Johnson Controls bets big on stop-start systems

MILWAUKEE -- Joe Walicki is betting $780 million that Tesla's high-tech, electric-vehicle battery gigafactory in Nevada does not represent the future of the auto battery business. That's how much Johnson Controls Inc. is spending to expand its global production of absorbent glass mat batteries, an improved lead-acid battery optimized for vehicles with stop-start systems. While AGM batteries cost twice as much as conventional lead-acid batteries, they are durable enough to restart a vehicle's engine dozens of times a day as it idles in traffic and at red lights. Walicki, 51, president of Johnson Controls' worldwide battery division, is betting the future of his company -- the world's top prod

The Hyperloop: 11 things to know

The Hyperloop is the concept for a new high-speed transportation system. While the idea of people traveling in tubes has been around for more than a century, entrepreneur Elon Musk drafted actual blueprints for the Hyperloop in 2013. He then challenged the engineering community to build it. On the pages that follow are artists' renderings and mockups of what the Hyperloop could look like. Follow this link to see the full gallery on

San Francisco Skyscraper To Have Energy Storage System

One Maritime Plaza, an office tower in San Francisco’s Financial District, will have a 500 kilowatt/1,000 kilowatt-hour Advanced Microgrid Solutions energy storage system installed. Tesla Powerpack batteries will be used in the system. The building has 25 floors of office space and is 398 feet tall; its owner is Morgan Stanley Real Estate. (Advanced Microgrid Solutions is located in San Francisco, not too far from the Financial District.) Advanced Microgrid Solutions is communicating with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) about potentially using the utility bill savings generated in the first year of the energy storage system’s operation for other energy storage projects.

Why Is Johnson Controls Banking On China For Its Absorbent Glass Mat Batteries?

Johnson Controls ( JCI ) recently announced plans to form a joint venture with Binzhou Bohai Piston Co. , an auto parts affiliate of Beijing Automotive Industry Group Co. (BAIC Group), to build its fourth automotive battery plant in China. This plant will manufacture both conventional flooded, and absorbent glass mat ( AGM ) battery technologies. AGM, which powers start-stop systems, are technologically advanced car batteries that are more expensive than a conventional lead acid battery, but are better equipped to handle the strain of frequent engine restarts and the ever-increasing load placed on car batteries. They are employed in vehicles with the start-stop technology, which, while being

All aboard! Energy storage goes on the rails

• ARES - a solution for grid-scale energy storage? • Ability to build at different scales and in wide locations • Rail storage has 'an appealing low-tech simplicity' Track, rail car, concrete slabs. Not the first three things you might consider as essentials in the field of energy storage. But out in the open spaces of the United States, there's a rail/energy revolution happening, relying on some of the oldest principles going. Advanced Rail Energy Storage, or ARES for short, is basically all about trains carrying concrete going up and down a track, gravity, and the application of potential energy. Two terminals, lots of storage When you've generated excess electricity – for example

Fighting Air Conditioning's Peak Demand With Thermal Energy Storage

As we head into the hottest part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, in what could be the hottest year on record, we barely give a thought to what using air conditioning does to our electricity grid. And what it will do to a hotter world in the future. According to a recent Department of Energy report, the world is gearing up to install 1.6 billion new air conditioners by 2050 (see figure). While air conditioning is a common luxury in the United States, in most other countries it is not that common. As these countries become wealthier and grow in population, they will install large amounts of air conditioning. Air conditioner sales are already rising in India, Brazil and Indonesia by about

India set to have first Power Surplus in at least Eight years.

Power supplies in FY17 may exceed demand by 1.1%: Ministry Power shortage in May narrows to lowest in at least six years India forecast an electricity surplus for the first time in at least eight years because of transmission improvements and more generation. The country may have 1.1 percent excess electricity supplies in the year ending March 2017, according to the power ministry’s Central Electricity Authority. A 2.6 percent surplus for the period is forecast for peak periods, when daily demand is highest. India’s power deficit shrank to below 1 percent in May. The narrowing gap masks unfulfilled demand in a country where one in five citizens don’t have access to electricity and a market f

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