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Tesla’s Gigafactory Will Be Net-Zero Energy User

Solar Panels, Heat Pumps, and Battery Storage (duh) Will Help Enormous Factory Achieve Net-Zero Emissions

New York, NY –  By almost all counts, Tesla’s Gigafactory will be enormous: Price tag? $5 billion.  Size? 13.6 million square feet, one of the largest buildings in the world (with the potential of ultimately being 24 million square feet based on Tesla’s purchase of additional acreage surrounding the site).  Production capacity? 50 GWh of annual battery production, i.e. more batteries than the entire world produced in 2013.

But on one key metric, Tesla plans to be really small.  In fact, zero.  As in net-zero emissions from the factory due primarily to massive amounts of solar panels blanketing the roof.  Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel, recently outlined the vision in a recent talk at University of Nevada:

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. – JB Straubel

In addition to the solar, Tesla decided they will not burn any fossil fuels in the factory, so there isn’t even a natural gas line connected to the site.  Rather than using natural gas, Tesla will be using heat pump technology, “which actually ends up way more efficient than just burning natural gas for steam.”

Ultimately, Tesla is putting their money where their mouth is and leading by example.  Once the Gigafactory starts cranking out batteries and forcing the price down (as we have seen with solar panels), the combination of batteries and renewables will surely present a challenge for the traditional centralized grid (as we’re seeing with solar net metering).  Utilities will look to regulators and private market experiences in the evolving Reforming the Energy Vision in New York State, so stay tuned for further developments!

Andy Anderson, LEED AP O+M, CMVP
Managing Director

EnergyWatch Inc.
1261 Broadway, Suite 510
New York, NY 10001
P 212.616.5198
andy@energywatch-inc.com

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