Weather extremes. We’ve seen fires in California, rolling blackouts across most of the country, and hurricanes in the Southeast.
This article is about big battery storage, specifically, Tesla Megapacks and why they are increasingly the choice for public utilities and companies. I’ll also discuss margin, or ROI (return on investment).
We will specifically look at three entities that have recently built or plan to build big battery storage.
Powering Florida’s Only Rice Mill: A Single Tesla Megapack
When the sun sets over Palm Beach County, Florida, one Tesla Megapack is helping power Florida’s only rice mill.
Florida Crystals Corp, had the foresight to plan to generate energy with a 900 panel solar array and order a Tesla Megapack. On May 31, they announced on Twitter that their Megapack is up and running, supplying electricity to the mill after dark and ensuring the power stays on around hurricane season to protect valuable rice.
Megapack is estimated to reduce carbon by 250 tons annually and is 1.8 MWh.
Remarkably, this Megapack is also the first one in Florida!
Arizona’s Giant Clean Energy Storage: Strata To Build 255MW/1GWh Tesla Megapack Project
Big projects are needed to transition our world to sustainable energy. APS or Arizona Public Service is a utility that serves more than 1.3 million homes and businesses in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties. This requires a lot of electricity!
Private company, Strata Build, plans to build, own and operate a huge 255MW/1GWh Tesla Megapack clean energy storage system with a value of $500M. Strata will then provide power to APS.
Australia’s Power Revolution: Megapacks Keeping Power on Across the Continent
As sure as the sun shines and the wind blows over the splendid continent of Australia, Tesla Megapacks are keeping the power on for millions of people.
I created a chart of Tesla Megapacks that are currently operating in Australia. There are many more Battery storage plans proposed, announced, and under construction. Other companies are also building big battery storage for Australians.
Information accessed from Renew Economy Big Battery Storage Map of Australia accessed on June 2, 2023.
Powering Growth: The Compelling Case for Investing in Tesla Megapacks
One of the probing questions I had from a reader of mine, was about margins. For this, I like to look at the future benefits to humanity. We can measure the value of Tesla or other big battery storage by its capability to keep the power on when the sun is not shining in the wind is not blowing.
Let’s imagine a public utility that serves 1M people that undergoes several power outages a year. Now visualize Megapacks stepping in and keeping power on for schools, hospitals, living spaces, and companies (the rice mill in Florida).
Speaking of the rice mill, a value can be assigned to the 90M lbs/year of rice that Florida Crystals Corp. is trusted to mill for its many clients. The volume of rice is enough for 4 million people annually. Businesses that have reliable power can thrive, grow, and expand, that’s a great ROI.
Every person benefits, including the many people that are employed in installing and maintaining Megapacks.
Another great value, which is hard to assign a dollar amount to, is in the essential concept that people stay safe and healthy.
Tesla’s website (accessed on June 3, 2023) allows you to reserve one Megapack to a max of 1000 Megapacks, with planned delivery in 2025. The base cost of one is around $2,8M (including installation).
Tesla’s Master Plan 3 includes Megapacks, Lithium refining, and Tesla Energy
Tesla Lithium refining in Corpus Christi, Texas, will enable Megapacks to be built faster. (It’s much easier to build a Megapack than to build a vehicle.) Megapacks, built at a certain volume now, will increase in scale.
Although it may seem a small step forward, Tesla Energy is putting programs together starting in Texas for charging Tesla vehicles during times when there’s excess wind production at night.
My take is that It’s worth following Tesla Energy carefully, in my opinion, Tesla starts off with what looks like small moves, and then those moves grow exponentially. Today, for example, buyers of a new Model 3 may apply to charge at home for free for 1 year with Tesla Energy. Late December 2022, Tesla Energy began an electricity plan in Texas designed for Powerwall owners. What will we see tomorrow?
I hope your summer is cool, memorable, and filled with adventures led by your hearts’ desires!
Thanks as always for supporting my writing. Article by Gail Alfar please credit accordingly. Thanks to Tesla Energy, Arushi Sharma Frank, Tesla Megapack, and reader Darrell Park for suggesting this topic.
Hardworking, dedicated, future-driven, committed, fearless… these are adjectives that describe the amazing Tesla team, and Elon Musk. These qualities are paying off as Tesla is ranked #1 in leading the transition to EVs.
The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) released its report on May 31 revealing Tesla and BYD at the top of ratings for leading the transition to electric vehicles.
The top 20 manufacturers in the world were analyzed for overall ratings based on 10 custom-built metrics, which identified the leaders, the transitioners, and the laggards in transitioning to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV). Tesla had the highest scores in Technology Performance, scoring a perfect 100 in Energy Consumption, Charging Speed, Driving Range, and Battery recycle/repurpose.
Tesla’s strategic vision did not go unnoticed
Tesla was the only automaker that scored a perfect 100/100 in Strategic Vision for ZEV target, Investment, and Executive Compensation.
Among the laggards are Tata headquartered in India, and Japanese automakers Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and Suzuki.
These automakers scored in the bottom third.
My take is that Tesla has and continues to put forth extraordinary effort at building EVs at scale. Tesla continues to expand Fremont factory, Giga Shanghai, Giga Berlin, Giga Nevada and Giga Texas. This shows that Tesla has thought about how to speed up and scale production to meet the global demand for good-quality electric vehicles. Tesla furthers this strategy by building their own batteries. Soon, Tesla will be refining Lithium (in Texas) and building more affordable vehicles in Mexico.
To read the ICCT report in full click here. Many thanks to the entire Tesla team for their dedication to the mission to accelerate the world to sustainable energy and their commitment to not being complacent. This article by Gail Alfar first appeared on Twitter, please credit accordingly.
(Austin, Texas) If you’re in Texas & taking delivery of your new Model 3 between May 26 and June 30, 2023 then you are in for some good luck!
Tesla Electric has unveiled a sweet home charging plan and qualifying customers in Texas will seamlessly charge their new Model 3 at home and have their overnight charging fee waived for a year.
UNVEILING THE TESLA ELECTRIC HOME CHARGING PLAN
Tesla Electric has gone above and beyond to cater to the needs of Texas Tesla owners. With the charging plan, eligible customers can seamlessly charge their new Model 3 at home without incurring any overnight charging fees for an entire year.
This plan provides financial savings & also eliminates the hassle of locating and utilizing charging stations, giving owners freedom and convenience. I expect this plan will expand soon.
To take advantage of this remarkable opportunity right now, Texas residents must meet specific eligibility criteria. Those who are taking delivery of a new Model 3 between May 26 and June 30, 2023, fall within the qualifying window. Link on details below.
This limited offer is an amazing chance for Texas Tesla owners to save money and maximize the benefit of owning an EV while minimizing their carbon footprint
THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION
The introduction of the Tesla Electric Home Charging Plan reinforces the strong commitment Tesla has to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy. By incentivizing home charging, Tesla aims to simplify the charging process and promote the use of renewable energy sources.
I expect this plan to roll out to more Tesla owners over time.
If you are a lucky Texas resident patiently awaiting the arrival of your new Model 3, do seize the opportunity. Participating in Tesla Electric Home Charging Plan means you will enjoy the convenience of charging your vehicle overnight at home, free of charge, for an entire year.
(Austin, Texas) In a significant move towards accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and supporting sustainable transportation, Tesla and Ford have announced a strategic partnership.
Elon Musk shared his vision for the Tesla Supercharger Network on a live Twitter Space.
Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) has been described as an easily adoptable interface, positioning it as a potential public standard. This article looks at the details of this collaboration, highlighting Elon Musk’s statements and Tesla’s perspective on the NACS.
TESLA’S COMMITMENT TO COLLABORATION AND EQUAL FOOTING AT SUPERCHARGERS
Jim Farley announced that,
“In early 2024 all Ford EV existing and future customers will have access to 12,000 Tesla high speed Superchargers across the USA.”
Farley also said one year later, Ford EVs will have the North American Charging Standard (NACS) interface.
Ford has been working with the Tesla team and Farley thanked Elon for that.
EARLY NEXT YEAR YOU’LL SEE FORD’S EVS CHARGING ALONGSIDE TESLA VEHICLES
During the discussion with Jim Farley, CEO of Ford, on the Twitter Space, Elon spoke regarding the Tesla Supercharger Network. Elon emphasized,
“We don’t want the Tesla Supercharger Network to be like a walled garden, we want it to be something that is supportive of electrification and sustainable transport in general.”
Elon expressed appreciation for Ford’s interest in partnering with Tesla on this front and affirmed the Tesla team’s intention to provide full support to Ford, ensuring that they are on equal footing at Tesla Superchargers.
I can personally attest that in Texas there is plenty of room for more vehicles to charge at Buc-ee’s locations!
NACS: A STRAIGHTFORWARD AND POTENTIALLY PUBLIC STANDARD
Tesla’s North American Charging Standard (NACS) has gained attention for its flexibility and compatibility. Described as a purely electrical and mechanical interface, NACS remains agnostic to use case and communication protocol.
This versatility makes it straightforward to adopt across different EV models. Notably, Tesla has made the design and specification files of the NACS available for download, actively engaging with relevant standards bodies to establish its charging connector as a potential public standard.
This move reflects Tesla’s outstanding commitment to promoting interoperability and widespread adoption of charging infrastructure.
Is the Tesla-Ford Partnership Revolutionizing EV Adoption and Sustainable Transport?
Yes! The partnership between Tesla and Ford signifies a huge stride towards accelerating EV adoption and promoting sustainable transport.
Living in Texas, where pick-up trucks dominate the roads, I have firsthand experience that highlights the pressing need to accelerate the adoption of EVs. I drive across Austin daily, and am surrounded by combustion engine cars and pick-up trucks. Texas is known as Truck Country by some.
I can’t help but reflect on the tremendous work required to transition to a more sustainable transportation system. In light of this, the announcement of the partnership between Tesla and Ford struck me as a brilliant move.
From my perspective, Tesla, with its exceptional engineering talent, is demonstrating philanthropy by sharing its expertise to support Ford and advance the cause of electrification.
Tesla’s NACS offers a straightforward and potentially public standard that fosters compatibility and interoperability among different charging connectors. As these initiatives unfold, the future of electric mobility becomes increasingly promising, with shared efforts aimed at building a beautiful, greener and more sustainable economy.
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Article by Gail Alfar, please credit accordingly. Images Courtesy Tesla, Inc. and Ford, Inc.
Elon Musk will hire a 3rd party organization to investigate Tesla’s supply chain for Cobalt, a rare mineral in order to assure shareholders and others that Tesla does not exploit child labor in any way. Elon was asked, during the Q/A portion of the shareholder’s meeting on May 16, 2023, to do this, and he agreed.
I had the honor of attending the meeting in person and I saw firsthand when Elon said this from the stage. He emphasized that the phones we all use have more Cobalt than Tesla’s batteries, and that he’s thinking of installing webcams at the mines to make sure no child is ever harmed.
I turned to Eliza Bleu for a little more understanding on this issue, as she had been asking me recently about Tesla’s supply chain and I had referred her to some information from Tesla’s recent Investor’s Day, summed up well in a tweet by Martin Viecha, Tesla Investor Relations,
“If you want just one takeaway from Investor Day, make it this one: A sustainable economy will result in *less* mining/extraction than we currently do. *Zero* rare earths are needed for this transition. Too many smart people I know believe the opposite.” – Martin Viecha
In addition, Elon Musk has also emphasized how clean Tesla’s supply chain is for it’s batteries. Tesla’s Lithium and Iron based batteries do not contain any Cobalt, while those made with Nickel use a very small amount of Cobalt as a binder.
Please watch Tesla’s videos on Investor DayandShareholder Meeting 2023 for reference. Also, Tesla’s next gen motor will require ZERO rare earth minerals. Less mining and extraction are also needed for a clean energy future as compared to a fossil fuel based economy.
MY INTERVIEW WITH ELIZA BLEU
Gail: Do you find that company CEOs are willing to face the challenge of creating a clean supply chain for rare earth minerals like cobalt?
Eliza Bleu: I’ve found that there is a vast difference between what CEOs are being told and the in-depth research that has been done by folks like Siddharth Kara, author of “Cobalt Red,” on the ground. It would be incredible if CEOs sought the truth and worked aggressively to find solutions!
Gail: When you heard that Elon Musk is going to hire a third-party organization to do this for Tesla, what was your first reaction?
EB: I’m a survivor advocate, so any little glimmer of hope brings a tear of joy to my eye. I take a moment to enjoy the positive progress before I think about the long road ahead. I applaud Mr. Musk for making those statements. I believe that he will follow through and continue to set the industry standard.
Gail: What is your expectation, for companies that use a lot of rare earth minerals, like companies that produce the phones that we use every day? Do you think they will continue to use components in their products that require rare earth minerals?
EB: The time has come for this conversation to fully see the light of day. I expect tech companies to seek the truth about their supply chains from start to finish. The entire industry will move away from cobalt eventually but between now and then there should be drastic measures to ensure that child labor and human exploitation is not used. Even when companies move away from cobalt it won’t repair the damage done to the Congolese people. It also won’t account for the labor trafficking and human exploitation in other parts of the supply chain. Apple is notoriously bad in this way.
The tech industry is uniquely positioned to provide those that work in the mines with basic needs like electricity, water and PPE. The brightest minds in the world can prioritize these issues. I’m grateful for Tesla’s commitment. I have hope around this issue and the first step is getting everyone to admit that there is a problem industry wide. The next step is to cut through the PR nonsense and to put humans over profits. The future of technology is bright but it cannot be built on the backs of children.
Tesla is one company among many that uses cobalt. I hope that Mr. Musk’s commitment sparks a long overdue industry wide conversation.
Despite challenges, there is hope that other CEOs will confront the issue of clean supply chains for rare earth minerals like cobalt.
Elon Musk’s decision to involve a third-party organization for Tesla sets a positive example, and it is crucial for the entire industry to engage in transparent discussions and prioritize human well-being over profits to drive meaningful change.
“The goal is to give people hope, realistic hope, and simply to say that there is a path to a fully sustainable global economy, that we are on that path, that we are accelerating that path, and so long as we don’t get complacent about it, it will happen.” – Elon Musk at Shareholder Meeting on Master Plan 3
At the heart of Tesla’s success lies Elon Musk, the incredible Tesla team, and a dedicated community of individuals who are passionate about the company and its mission.
For this article, you’ll get to come along with me to the shareholders meeting and we’ll start in the line of cars and then meet some awesome people! Let’s set the time machine back to May 16, 2023, and hop in my Tesla.
IMAGINING YOU ARE WITH ME AT THE SHAREHOLDER’S MEETING
Joining a long line of cars, we are very close to Gigafactory Texas and we see production at scale in action in front of us. Numerous deliveries on large, semi flatbeds are pouring in as we wait, car carriers leave the factory loaded with new Model Y. The battery cathode plant and die shop are huge. The employee parking lot is overflowing.
You get the window seat once we’re on the bus ride to the entrance. The bus lumbers off around the Gigafactory. I say I could do this ride over again 50 times and you tell me I’m a little extreme (I disagree, haha).
We see a holding lot filled with Model Y as far as the eye can see. Model Y are charging at a George Jetson style charging bay shaded by solar panels. Next up, a loading lot where inspections are being done, then cars line up to wait for their turn onto a car carrier. There are long lines of car carriers.
You pass several employee parking lots, they are bigger than you expected.
The tour bus drives closer to the Gigafactory, and a cool shadow is cast over the bus as you gaze up. We both gasp. The bus feels tiny as we crane our necks to look up to the rooftop. The roof is covered with solar panels that spell out “TESLA,” but you already know that from when you flew into Austin.
While we wait to tour the Tesla Semi, a graffiti artist is creating Cybertruck art on the side of a shipping container. The day is perfect, 80 degree weather, a few puffy clouds, we’re lucky to be here!
You think you almost lost me after the Semi tour but then find me ogling the Cybertruck and the German-made Model Ys on the other side of the street. The size of the truck is bigger than you expect. The Berlin Model Y paint is glamorous under the sun to say the least!
As we enter the Gigafactory Tour, it’s apparent it’s in full production and did not shut down at all for this event, rather it looks like it’s under an even higher pace than imagined. Employees are actively working on model Y, and the production line is visible and moving along fast. We hear occasional happy beeps from Model Y under production and it sounds like they’re saying, “hey, I’m glad you came to see us.”
We’re able to see the ground floor and then climb up stairs to the second floor and look down, which is incredible. The factory is so big and everything looks so clean and everybody working looks like they have purpose and order in what they do.
As a tour guide instructs us on the manufacturing processes in a video, you and I are more interested in listening to the sounds in the factory and watching the production line below, it’s an all inspiring vision, seeing these vehicles being brought to production at scale, and being there in person, is an experience that feels like the future. It inspires us to think about how incredible it is to be a part of Tesla’s success just by being a supporter and investor.
Reality kicks us in the face while the security guard says “hey ma’am, your tour is leaving.”
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I hope this gave you a feel for if you had been at the Tesla shareholder Meeting. For the remainder of this article, I’ll introduce you to three inspiring people I had conversations with.
FROM TESLA OWNER TO INVESTOR
Winston was wearing a Longhorn shirt and the “Don’t Mess with Tesla” belt buckle which caught my eye. He and his daughter Anne were waiting in line at the Tesla store.
Winston told me he bought a Model 3 in 2020. He said the minute he stepped into his Tesla, the experience was so incredible that right away, knew he needed to invest.
He now uses FSDbeta all over Houston, and he would not travel around any other way.
I told him I had also used FSD beta in Houston and it was flawless. (My Podcast #14 is all in Baytown & Houston)
WITNESSING THE NEW EVOLUTION OF NORMALCY
I always respect the confidentiality and privacy of Tesla employees, so I’ll just briefly share with you what one employee said while keeping him private. Without mentioning his position at Tesla, I can say he looked at Tesla with a blend of optimism and amazement. He told me he loves working at Tesla and compared it to what he knew about car manufacturing before he was hired. As a kid, he grew up in Detroit and his father worked in automotive manufacturing. He would visit the factory and remembers it for the awful smell of toxic fumes.
At Tesla, “you can actually walk through it and breathe clean air. It doesn’t even seem like a car factory at times. I am experiencing the new evolution of normalcy.”
SUPPORT FOR ELON MUSK FROM NORTH CAROLINA
Just outside the Tesla Gigafactory, near some oak trees, there was a handful of food and beverage trucks. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a slushie and looked for a shady place to eat. This is how I met the Whitley family. Dan Whitley’s love for Elon and Tesla was evident in his commitment to being a part of the Tesla mission.
Dan explained to me that he supports Elon Musk because, “I think he’s a believable person and I think he’s got a kind heart and I believe in his mission and believe in him and just try to support him the best I can.” Laughing, Dan said, “And I’ve got 8 Tesla’s so I’m supporting him!” I asked if this was normal for N. Carolina, and he said. “The company spoke to me, they have a good mission and I want to support them.”
The conversations I had with people at the shareholder meeting offer a glimpse into the passion and devotion people have for Tesla and in the vision of Elon Musk. for some, it even made them rethink their future. William Cross from Connecticut was at the Shareholder Meeting. I caught up with him later, and he told me how the experience left an impact on him. “It really made me rethink what I’m doing here. I fell in love with the South. I want to learn more and one day work for Tesla or SpaceX.”
The company Tesla as a whole inspires many people, and Elon is highly respected and supported by many. When you hear negative talk about Elon Musk, please realize that is a small minority. A small, very vocal minority. They, in no way, represent what most people truly think.
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Article by Gail Alfar. please credit accordingly. Thanks to Tesla for being amazing. Thanks to Elon Musk and all my subscribers and readers on Twitter who support my writing in many different ways, I appreciate you very much. Video Courtesy @Tesla Inc., Pic credits Sarah Alfar and Greggortruck.
There’s a lot of talk about whether someone should make their next car a Tesla. I’m like you in that I work hard for my paycheck, and there are few products I have purchased that truly give me Joy!
My Tesla is one of them!
I’m sharing my experience of buying a Tesla with you and walking with you through the steps.
The deciding factor for me was the demo drive. Tesla gave me a demo car on a Saturday morning after a nightfall of rain. The roads were sparkling and the car was pristine and I accelerated up a steep hill and around curves while the car held onto the road like rails. I had to adjust back to my combustion car after that and I missed the Tesla so much.
REASONS A TESLA MAKES SENSE
I wanted a Tesla, and I had to sell my husband on it because he wanted to wait.
I emphasized to him how Tesla rates #1 in Safety and Aces all the crash tests.
I told him how little we would pay to power the Tesla – about $6 – $12 at the Tesla Superchargers and only about $30 a month to charge at night at home.
I also let him know about destination charging for when we travel. Destination chargers let you slow charge for free at many hotels overnight.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET YOUR TESLA?
I suggest you order your Tesla on the premise that you will take delivery in one week. When I got my finances in order (I used a credit union, and Tesla also has a finance option), I went ahead and placed a new order for a Model Y. Ours was delivered a month later. I have heard that ordering a Model Y 7-Seater SUV may take longer (see image above) but is well worth the wait!
My friend recently ordered a Model 3 and Tesla scheduled delivery for the next week. Delivery times vary, and the important part is that you are ready with your financing, trade-in and have planned out your charging routine ahead of time.
TESLA WILL LET YOU TRADE IN YOUR OLD GAS CAR
Tesla will take your old gas car off your hands.
When you place your order for your Tesla, they will ask you if you have a vehicle to trade in.
My best advice is for you to compare Tesla’s offer to another car buyer’s offer. You can go with the highest bidder.
TESLA’S EASY TASK LIST IS MADE FOR YOU
When I ordered my Tesla, I received received “tasks” from Tesla to complete in stages.
Tesla does their best to make this painless and it is worth having 1) finances prepared ahead of time and 2) how you’ll insure the vehicle planned out. I recommend Tesla insurance as you can opt into it right from the Tesla App and their rates are usually lower. It activates right away and you can change out of it later if you have to.
RECEIVING THE BEAUTIFUL VEHICLE, FINAL STEPS
As a Texas resident, I went to the County Tax office to pay the taxes on the vehicle. The Tax Office held the license plate for the Tesla until I was paid up (this was in Oct. 2022 and may change).
It is hard to explain how awesome it feels to own a Tesla! It seems almost too good to be true!
In a future article, I’ll write about getting to know your Tesla. It took me awhile to get fully comfortable with my Tesla because it is very different from a combustion car!
I wanted to write about my first rocket launch. I realized that to best write for you, I had to talk to other people about their experiences. I’m sharing with you some of the beautiful conversations I had at Starship’s first orbital flight test launch. We’ll hear from a SpaceX enthusiast, an ex-NASA engineer, and a SpaceX engineer.
A DREAM COMES TRUE.
When Tesla announced the availability of the first version Model 3 sedan, Jim from Indiana was one of the first to reserve one. Since that date in 2017, Jim has closely been following Elon Musk’s companies and has been supportive of SpaceX. When he heard Starship would launch its first orbital test this year, he had a dream of going there with his daughter.
I saw Jim standing on Isla Blanca State Park beach with his wife, two children and another family friend. Jim’s passion and dedication to supporting SpaceX and its mission to make us multi-planetary is contagious. He wakes up every morning excited about the future!
“I knew I would bring my daughter, and when my wife found out she helped turn it into a family vacation for us all.”
I talked with him on the beach while his children played in the rolling waves at Isla Blanca State Park. Jim is one of many people who came to see the first Starship launch in person on April 20, 2023.
EX-NASA ENGINEER BELIEVES ELON MUSK WILL GET PEOPLE LIVING ON THE MOON.
Fred Becker, an ex-NASA Engineer would not have missed this launch for anything. Fred drove down from Indiana with his tiny Pomeranian in a little carrying pack. When Fred was 16 years old, he watched Apollo 16 land on the Moon on April 16. In a gentle voice, and with a slight sense of humor, Fred told me he wished the Starship launch had been on April 16.
We talked quite a bit, and I felt like I was talking to an old friend, Fred told me,
“NASA has been hamstrung by politics, but Elon Musk is not, for the most part.”
Fred shared with me that he knows Elon Musk is an incredibly amazing and kind person, and if “his mission is to get people living on the moon that’s going to happen.”
As I watched Fred walk away, I thought about how he explained to me that he had played a big role in designing and developing the space shuttle for NASA. Fred came alive when he explained to me his admiration for what Elon Musk is doing. I saw a spark light up in his eye.
There were a lot of NASA folks present at the Starship launch. SpaceX is opening up hope again to them that we will have people living on the moon and beyond!
WORKING FOR SPACEX.
I lingered at Isla Blanca for a while after the launch, the beach started to clear and began to fill up with happy families, kids, toys, and coconut-scented suntan lotion. As I started to walk back to the parking lot, I ran into Justin T., a SpaceX engineer. I asked him what his role was in Starship, and he was gracious enough to explain it to me in terms I could understand. He said he was responsible for connecting the fuel tanks to the Starship, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but I will tell you that he expressed he loved his job and the team he works with.
Justin told me he’s ready to get right back to work for the next launch. He told me he loves working at SpaceX and does not entertain any plans of leaving. He has found his passion and mission. It was incredible to hear him talk and to be able to thank him for his hard work. Without him, the launch would not have been the data-gathering success that it was.
I’ve been to Starbase 6 times with most of my family. We’ve camped on the beach 3 times, which is pretty near to the Starship launch site!
When Starship launched, the vibrations in the air and the deep rumbling sound were much more profound than I could have imagined. I could feel the intense pressure in the core of my heart. This was my first launch to ever attend in person! One of my kids was there and when I turned around he had tears of joy streaming down his face. “It made me realize my life priorities!”
If Starship goes to Mars, we have a great chance of passing the great filter and becoming a multi-planetary civilization. If Starship doesn’t make it to Mars, if the program fails, it will still do one thing that is extremely valuable in the lives of people today: Give people hope where there wasn’t any before. Do you love waking up in the morning excited for the future? I know I do. This alone is justification enough for Starship.
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“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – President John F. Kennedy, Houston, Texas, September 12, 1962
Elon Musk was asked, “Why should we colonize Mars?”
“Being a multi-planet species and being out there among the stars is important for the long-term survival of humanity and that’s one reason, kind of like life insurance for life collectively, life as we know it. The part that I find personally most motivating is that it creates a sense of adventure and it makes people excited about the future. If you consider two futures: one where we are forever confined to Earth until eventually something terrible happens — or another future where we are out there on many planets, maybe even going beyond the solar system! I think that the second version is incredibly exciting and inspiring… and there need to be reasons to get up in the morning. You know, life cannot just be about solving problems, otherwise, what’s the point? There’s gotta be things that people find inspiring and make life worth living.” – Elon Musk
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Article by Gail Alfar, please credit accordingly. Thanks to Fred Becker, SpaceX, Elon Musk, and Carlos Nunez Images. Original Article appears on Gail Alfar’s Twitter
I love taking time to soak up the genius of Tesla Master Plan 3. I think you’ll also enjoy this article as we look together at the intricate plans Tesla has for a cleaner, happier, sustainable world. For this article, I’ll simplify the Tesla vehicle powertrain talk by Colin Campbell (VP Tesla Powertrain) for your understanding. I also talked with a computer engineer to better understand it myself and hopefully, this article will delight you!
EFFICIENCY MEANS MORE AT TESLA. DEVELOPING. MANUFACTURING. REFINING. SCALING.
When we think of vehicle efficiency, we think of how far a vehicle can drive.
At Tesla Investor Day, Campbell explained to us how Tesla vehicles go 25 – 30% further than other EVs in the same class. Tesla’s are more efficient!
He also showed that while efficiency does mean reducing how much energy the car uses, it also means howTesla “develops, manufactures, refines and scales the powertrain for their cars.”
The Model 3 and Y powertrain is a great example of this broader meaning of efficiency.
Since Tesla launched the Model 3 in 2017 they have continuously improved the powertrain and the factory that builds it. Today, the drive unit (the engine of the car) is 20% lighter for the same amount of power. Tesla also uses 25% less “heavy rare earths” than when they started. (We’ll learn more about Tesla and their plans for rare earth use later in this article.)
The powertrain factory at Giga Texas is 75% smaller and 65% cheaper than Tesla’s original factory build in California. Tesla achieved this without making compromises in power/efficiency.
THE SCRUM IN RUGBY.
If you’re familiar with American football, the rugby scrum is analogous to a team huddle, where the attacking team regroups to plan their next play. No matter which game you are playing (rugby, football or computer project management), the idea of the scrum is the same.
Tesla has mastered the scrum.
Here’s how Campbell explained how Tesla designs the whole vehicle and entire factory together as one company,
“We have small and highly capable teams and to make a critical decision. We have the battery cell chemists, the mechanical engineers, the manufacturing engineers, the supply chain team, the automation designers, the software programmers, all in one room working together in real time. That allows us to make decisions that are best for the whole car and to make them really fast and that approach is unlike traditional automotive engineering which is really fractured.”
What Campbell described at Investor Day is a highly agile approach. This is in contrast to the legacy way of making cars.
“If you were to go buy a premium German electric car, the engineers who designed the drive inverter in that car, they did not work for that car company, they work for a contractor and at Tesla we design the entire car and the factory that built it.”
TESLA IN-HOUSE DESIGN. TRANSISTOR PACKAGES. MICROPROCESSORS.
Campbell carefully described how the inside of the charger in a Tesla has transistor packages (tiny square semiconductors on the circuit board) and every electron that moves you down the road flows through one of these packages.
Tesla designed their own custom package using a uniquely fast semiconductor: Silicon Carbide. The Silicon Carbide wafer can extract twice as much heat out of that package as what Tesla could buy off the shelf. This means that what’s inside those transistor packages can be much smaller. “Silicon carbide is an amazing semiconductor but it’s also expensive and it’s really hard to scale, so using less of it is a big win for us!”
Campbell described the process of orchestrating all the transistors to switch in the right ways as “computationally extremely intensive.” But Tesla did it, and it was done first with 4 microprocessors. And that was not good enough for Tesla. The team came up with a way to do the same job with just ONE microprocessor.
ONE MICROPROCESSOR DOES THE JOB OF FOUR.
Tesla developed its own custom microprocessor, replacing 4 microprocessors on the circuit board with one. Campbell said, “It is purpose-built for high-power electronics it’s half the cost and it does in just 1, the job of all those 4.” As a result, Tesla was able to cut both the cost and the size of the chargers in half. No other car manufacturer has this level of expertise in high-power electronics.
TESLA BUILDS CUSTOM SOFTWARE TO OPTIMIZE THE DRIVE UNIT.
In addition to the work that Tesla does in-house in hardware, they do work in-house on software.
If you take a cross-section of the Drive Unit for Model 3, there is a stator and a rotor and they’re both responsible for the core function of the drive unit, which is to convert electricity into motion.
Tesla’s custom software creates a simulation with the rotating magnetic field that is responsible for that conversion. Getting that simulation exactly right is central to the cost, weight, size, and even the sound of the drive unit.
“You can buy software that will do all of this, but our tools are faster and they’re more accurate and it was not easy to do and that allows us to quickly iterate through millions of possible driving unit designs to find the best one,” explains Campbell.
Campbell has his audience’s attention as he explains how Tesla excels because they integrate work that is often farmed out. “When you are making a new product, it’s not enough to think about the product itself you have to think about how you will make it at scale.”
At Tesla, their powertrain and powertrain manufacturing equipment are both designed under one roof. The engineers who are designing the motor are in the same room as the engineers who are designing the machine that’s going to put that motor together, and that collaboration pushes them from day 1 to design products that are not only high-performance but that are really easy to assemble.
Looking forward, vehicles made at Giga Mexico will be another big improvement.
FUTURE. HOW TESLA IS CREATING A MORE AFFORDABLE CAR.
How can the next-generation vehicle cost less to build? The next-gen vehicle will contain Silicon Carbide transistors. You might ask, “But aren’t those too expensive?” They are expensive AND Tesla figured out a way to use 75% less without compromising the performance or the efficiency of the car.
People also ask, “What about shortages of battery cell supplies?” Tesla solved this by creating a new powertrain that is compatible with any battery chemistry. This allows Tesla to have flexibility in battery sourcing.
“Aren’t drive units expensive?” They are. And Tesla’s team found a way to reduce the drive unit cost to about $1000. No other automaker is even close to that number!
FUTURE. SCALING PRODUCTION FASTER.
The bigger a factory is, the longer it takes to build. Tesla found a way to build the same number of cars from a smaller factory. Remember Master Plan 3 and the need to scale production faster? Being able to build a smaller factory faster that makes the same number of cars helps move our world towards a sustainable future much faster.
As Campbell talked, you could see Giga Texas’ production line behind him building Model Ys. “Our next powertrain factory is 50% smaller than the one that’s behind me today even though it has the same capacity. All these improvements are going to be transformative for the adoption of EVs and our ability to scale them.”
FUTURE. ELECTRIC MOTOR WITH NO RARE EARTHS.
Tesla’s next drive unit will be just as efficient and cost less to build and also will not use any rare earth materials. Campbell explains, “As the world transitions to clean energy, demand for rare earths is really increasing dramatically and not only is it going to be a little hard to meet that demand but mining that rare earth, it has environmental and health risks, so we want to do even better than this, we have designed our next drive unit which uses a permanent magnet motor to not use any rare earth materials at all.”
So how does all this fit into Master Plan 3? Tesla can build lower-cost products that are still efficient and compelling and they can be built at scale. Tesla will use less constrained commodities, less Silicon Carbide, and less rare earth.
Giga Mexico and other next-gen factories will be built quickly and will be more compact while also being high-output.
Tesla will build easy-to-scale powertrains all the way up to the levels that Elon Musk and Drew Baglino mentioned at the beginning of Investor Day.
Campbell ended with thanking the powertrain team, “This achievement, like all of the achievements that I mentioned today, is only possible because of the incredible people on our powertrain teams. They are absolutely committed to the cause of sustainable energy and that is why we can do with no other company can do.”
For More Information:
I’ve included Links if you want to learn more or watch Colin Campbell, (Tesla’s brilliant VP of Powertrain Engineering) discuss this on Investor’s Day at Giga Texas.
Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – April 16, 2023. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization. I write this and all my articles myself without the use of AI/ChatGPT.
Tesla’s Master Plan Part 3 was published April 5 and I’m excited to share the main points with you. The link for you to read it is here, and it is 41 pages. I’ll simplify it for you and share my thoughts. I also hope you’ll be able to sit, back, relax, make yourself a little snack (how about an Apple Danish?) and enjoy this read!
Introduction: Today’s Dirty Energy Economy
Master Plan Part 3 starts out by raising awareness about our current energy economy. Many of us may not be fully aware of how inefficient and expensive it is to maintain our world’s current energy economy. We are living in a time where MOST energy is supplied by fossil fuels (81%). What causes alarm for me is how much of that energy is wasted! A shocking 64% is wasted. How is this possible? Three reasons:
Extraction and refining oil uses energy
When electricity is generated, there are transformation losses
Internal combustion engine vehicles and natural gas furnaces have losses due to inefficient use
In the end, only 36% of the primary energy supply produces useful work or heat for our world’s economy. This is very wasteful, and Tesla has a fabulous approach to correcting this problem.
“There is a clear path to a sustainable energy Earth.
It doesn’t require destroying natural habitats.
It doesn’t require us to be austere and stop using electricity and be in the cold or anything.
The story, and I think this holds together quite well – it will be actually published in a detailed white paper with all of our assumptions and calculations — is that there is a clear path to a fully sustainable earth with abundance.” – Elon Musk
Quick View of the Plan to Eliminate Fossil Fuels
Master Plan Part 3 is the whitepaper Elon Musk mentioned on March 1. It is Tesla’s brilliant plan to eliminate fossil fuel use in our world. I’ll summarize the 4 areas which are: Transportation, Power for Homes and Businesses, Power for Massive Industrial Processes, and Power needed to build a sustainable energy economy.
Transportation will be powered by batteries that store energy that comes mostly from solar.. If you are reading this you’re already familiar with how Tesla is accelerating passenger car production. We’ll see this happen faster with light-duty trucks and Class 8 semis, Tesla says,
“Electric vehicles are approximately 4x more efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles due to higher powertrain efficiency, regenerative braking capability, and optimized platform design.”
Batteries and Charging for Cargo Ships: Cargo ships and all other bulk carriers will need to be powered by batteries. If shipping were a country, it would be the world’s 8th-biggest emitter of CO2.
“Both continental & intercontinental ocean shipping can be electrified by optimizing design speed & routes to enable smaller batteries w/ more frequent charge stops on long routes” – Tesla Master Plan 3
Synthetic Fuel for Planes: Long-distance airplane flights can be powered by synthetic fuels. Tesla says, “Longer distance flights, estimated as 80% of air travel energy consumption can be powered by synthetic fuels generated from excess renewable electricity leveraging the Fischer-Tropsch process, which uses a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) to synthesize a wide variety of liquid hydrocarbons, and has been demonstrated as a viable pathway for synthetic jet fuel synthesis.”
Power for Homes, Businesses and Industry
You may be familiar with heat pumps. Heat pumps are already in use in many homes, apartments and commercial buildings as well as in many industrial processes.
Instead of generating heat, like a gas furnace or boiler does, a heat pump uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. Because they’re not generating heat, heat pumps are highly efficient and use much less energy than a furnace or a boiler!
Heat pumps transfer heat using a system that’s similar to a refrigerator or an air conditioning unit. In the summer, they keep buildings cool by absorbing heat inside and releasing it outdoors. In the winter, the process is reversed and the heat pump is able to absorb heat from the outside and bring it indoors.
I just learned that gas furnace heating systems can be retrofitted with air source heat pumps. Tesla says, “Air source heat pumps are the most suitable technology for retrofitting gas furnaces in existing homes,” and “Gas furnaces create heat by burning natural gas. They have an annual fuel utilization efficiency of ~90%. Therefore, heat pumps use ~3x less energy than gas furnaces.”
Power for Massive Industrial Processes
In everyday life we don’t think about the energy it takes to produce many of the things we use daily. This area of Master Plan Part 3 addresses clean energy for industrial processes.
Tesla explains that “Industrial processes up to ~200C, such as food, paper, textile and wood industries can benefit from the efficiency gains offered by heat pumps.”
Some industrial processes require temperatures above 200C such as steel, chemical, fertilizer and cement production and this is where Tesla explains the power of electric resistance heating, electric arc furnaces and thermal storage.
Most of the steel production industry in the USA today uses electric arc furnaces. Master Plan 3 goes into great detail about thermal storage. I would summarize this by saying there are multiple ways to store thermal energy and Tesla shows them all and specifically details water, molten salt and air.
Tesla also links to a wonderful explanation of thermal energy storage using carbon blocks by Antora Energy and a paper by Sandia National Labs that explains, “sensible thermal storage includes storing heat in liquids such as molten salts and in solids such as concrete blocks, rocks, or sand-like particles.”
Green Hydrogen Production and Storage
Hydrogen is needed for powering steel and fertilizer production. But the catch is that hydrogen is produced from coal, oil and natural gas. Master Plan 3 has a solution for that. Tesla explains, “Green hydrogen can be produced via the electrolysis of water (high energy intensity, no carbon-containing products consumed/produced) or via methane pyrolysis (lower energy intensity, produces a solid carbon-black byproduct that could be converted into useful carbon-based products).”
Storage of Green Hydrogen will be important and I really like the Master Plan 3 solution to this:
“Underground gas storage facilities used today for natural gas storage can be retrofitted for hydrogen storage; the modeled U.S. hydrogen storage requires ~30% of existing U.S. underground gas storage facilities.” – Master Plan 3
Power Needed To Build The Sustainable Energy Economy
Achieving Master Plan 3 will require about 4 Petawatt-hour/year (PWh/year) of sustainable power to manufacture the batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines which are required. This shows us how comprehensive Master Plan 3 is and that it sets realistic and achievable expectations. I had to look up Petawatt, and it is a unit of power measurement system where 1 Petawatt = 1015 watts. Petawatt-hours are large enough to conveniently express the annual electricity generation for whole countries and the world energy consumption.
What a Fully Sustainable Energy Economy Looks Like
Master Plan 3 pages 13-17 are an in-depth model of a fully sustainable energy economy in the USA. There are 6 graphs/tables that detail things like energy demand, energy capacity, demand in various regions of the USA, solar energy curtailment and seasonal hydrogen storage needs. My favorite graphic in this section is Table 3, it shows wind and solar average historical capacity factor and fully electrified economy demand by region.
Regarding Investor’s Day, Elon Musk emphasized that it was a message for the people and life of Earth.
“Looking forward to Tesla Investor Day on March 1. By this, we mean the broadest definition of investor, as in the people & life of Earth. It will be a message of good hope & positivity for the future.” – Elon Musk
Electrification Demand In The USA And In The World
Master Plan Part 3 is for the entire world and to estimate the world’s needs for power generation and storage needs, Tesla simplified the process by scaling the USA resource mix 6 times.
Cathode Components Needed for Batteries for Vehicles, Ships, and Planes
This is a delightful part of Master Plan Part 3 because Tesla revealed some details about three products under development. These are the Compact car, Commercial/Passenger Van, and the Tesla Bus!
For batteries, Tesla says standard-range vehicles can utilize the lower energy density chemistries (LFP), whereas long-range vehicles require higher energy density chemistries (high nickel).
Master Plan 3 shows that long-range ships will need a higher density Nickel and Manganese-based cathode while short-range ships will require a lower energy density LFP cathode.
20% of the Airplane fleet flies short range and that portion can be electrified with 7MWh packs with High Nickle cathodes.
How much Investment is required?
Pages 26-29 of Master Plan 3 on investment needed for manufacturing facilities, mining and refining operations are fascinating to study. If you want details please see Tesla’s tables 12 and 13a,b and c.
The biggest takeaway from this section is that a sustainable energy economy is 60% the cost of continuing fossil fuel investments!
Amount of Land Area needed
At first, I thought Tesla’s Table 14 on page 30 was missing something! As you can see below, the total land needed to power our world with solar and wind is tiny! Tesla says, “The global solar panel fleet of 18.3TeraWatts will require roughly 71.4 million acres or 0.19% of the total 36.8 billion acres global land area.” For wind, “the global wind turbine fleet of 12.2TW will require an estimated 9.2 million acres or 0.02% of total land area.”
What Materials Are Required to Power and Connect the Grid?
The last section of Master Plan Part 3 contains about 10 tables/figures that list and detail the various materials and tonnage required for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, transmission and generation as well as what is needed to build the approximately 60 million circuit miles that will need to be added or reconductored globally to achieve a fully sustainable, electrified global economy.
My favorite exhibit in this last section is Figure 18, which shows the global minerals reserve/resource base and how public perception often falsely thinks that the global reserve of minerals will be seriously depleted. In reality, global reserves will increase as the figure demonstrates.
Tesla explains, “Resources and Reserves have historically increased – that is, when a mineral is in demand, there is more incentive to look for it and more is discovered.”
My experience renting in California in my college days in the 1990’s was always with gas furnaces in old buildings and looking back I think they were never created to be a long-term heating solution. I think they were a fast “track home” solution (70-80 years ago) created to incorporate a limited resource (gas) that will run out. Some sources say natural gas will run out by about the year 2100 and others give it less time. New buildings in California and elsewhere are still being built with gas furnaces, in fact California subsidies that incentivized builders to install gas lines to new buildings were common and are being phased out this year (2023).
The reason I mention my trivial story is that we all have experience with energy. It is part of all our daily lives. I’ll leave you with this statement from Elon Musk about Master Plan 3:
Gail Alfar, author. Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – April 8, 2023. All Rights Reserved. My goal as an author is to support Tesla and Elon Musk in both making life better on earth for humans and becoming a space-fairing civilization. I write this and all my articles myself without the use of AI/ChatGPT.