Elon Musk And Tesla Push For Renewable Energy Gigafactory In Cape Town

Written by Dana Sanchez


Elon Musk and Tesla continue to push for renewable energy with talk of a gigafactory in Cape Town that produces Powerwall batteries — batteries charged by solar panels with enough storage to power a home, according to a report in Inquisitr.

Tesla Powerwall batteries are already being made and shipped, and the company is focusing on producing even more, according to Khobi Brooklyn, Tesla’s global communications director, CleanTechnica reported.

So what’s a gigafactory?

The Tesla gigafactory 1 is a lithium-ion battery factory under construction mainly for Tesla Motors at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, Nevada, U.S. It’s expected to be operational by 2016 or 2017. The projected cost to build the facility: US$5 billion.

You can expect 1000 gigafactories — that’s what’s coming, BusinessSpectator reported in November, 2014. “The developing world’s growing consumption (with its trends towards the standard of living that we’ve become accustomed to in the West) will be putting batteries in everything from bicycles, motor bikes and scooters to home and business storage systems,” according to the report.

South Africa-born Musk and his Silicon Valley-based company, Tesla, plan to build a gigafactory in Cape Town to produce the Powerwall batteries, according to recent reports.

Musk attended Pretoria Boys’ High School, and then had higher education in Canada and the U.S. He is the co-founder of PayPal and the founder of aerospace engineering company SpaceX.

The South African Tesla office will be run by Evan Rice, former CEO of GreenCape, an organisation formed to help develop the market for renewable energy in the Western Cape, htxt reported.

Rice has been appointed Tesla’s business development manager in South Africa, TimesLive reported.

Tesla South Africa will have one employee to start, Rice told htxt, “but if we can find some solid business cases and get them going we will be expanding.”

If things go well, there could be some more announcements later in 2016, Rice said, according to an earlier AFKInsider report.

Rice said his role will be to develop the market for Tesla’s industrial-scale batteries, Powerpack, which were introduced earlier this year by Musk.

Earlier in 2015 Tesla told htxt it had no plans to bring Tesla vehicles to South Africa. However, a spokesperson for the company told MyBroadband in May that its Powerwall home battery system would be in South Africa in 2016, BusinessTech reported.

The Tesla Powerwall for residential use comes in two models, 7 kWh and 10 kWh. The 7kWh Powerwall costs $3,000, while the 10kWh costs $3500, CleanTechnica reported.

Tesla is building a $5-billion gigafactory in the Nevada desert, U.S., to produce Powerwalls. It will be one of the world’s biggest buildings, TimesLive reported. First shipments are going to the U.S. and Australia.

Factories will be needed around the world, Musk said in May.

Powerwall is a “great solution for people in remote parts of the world where there’s no electricity” or where the supply is intermittent or expensive, Musk said.

Alan Winde is minister of economic opportunities for the Western Cape. When he heard Tesla might establish a factory in the province, he got involved, TimesLive reported

“That is when people at GreenCape started phoning Tesla in the U.S.,” Winde said. “They had some teleconferences and then a delegation went to see them.”

It was probably during the face-to-face discussions that Rice was hired by Tesla executives, Winde said.

“Evan phoned me to say was leaving GreenCape. When he told me where he was going I said it was definitely good news,” Winde told TimesLive. “We very much want to have a gigafactory here. If we get that right, it will make nuclear power generation obsolete.”

Musk said that 900 million Powerwall batteries will make the world’s electricity primarily solar, Inquisitr reported. For South Africa, a new Tesla Powerwall gigafactory will provide much-needed jobs.

while the Powerwall battery sounds like the ideal solution to power problems worldwide, Engadget reports that the Institute for Energy Research has had a look at the numbers and reckons it could take almost 40 years for the Powerwall battery to pay for itself.

Reportedly, if a home is already hooked up for solar-power connections, it would take around 31 years to break even, while if the home is new to solar energy, it could take up to 38 years for the Powerwall to pay for itself.

However, according to Tesla, areas with renewable-energy policies like feed-in tariffs — including Hawaii, Australia, and the U.K. — provide a more accurate basis for the Powerwall’s usage. According to them, in these regions, “the consumer can utilize a Powerwall to consume more of their solar generation and the payback is less than 10 years, while providing the non-economic benefits, as well.”