Tesla gigafactory to reach net-zero energy level

Dive Brief:

  • Tesla officials have revealed that their massive battery "gigafactory" under construction in Reno, NV, will be a net-zero energy facility and will have carbon neutral operations.
  • JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, said recently that the company always intended the gigafactory to be net-zero — or produce as much energy as it uses — and that process began with the company designing the roof to accommodate solar panels, TreeHugger reported. Straubel also said the company has staked out positions for additional solar in the hills surrounding the factory.
  • Straubel said another way the design team ensured the gigafactory would be a no-emissions facility was "to force the issue" and not incorporate any natural gas pipelines into the facility infrastructure. Rather than natural gas, The Green Optimistic reported, Tesla will use an efficient heat pumping technology.

Dive Insight:

"In every single step of the process, we have been able to reinvent and come up with solutions," Straubel said during a recent talk at the University of Nevada. "There’s a heat pump technology that actually ends up way more efficient than just burning natural gas for steam. And, then, we have a facility that has basically no emissions. The only emissions are related to the vehicles that might go there that aren’t electric or things like that. But we’ll try to attack that one piece at a time.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently reported that Tesla is ahead of schedule on construction of the gigafactory, which means battery cell production is now slated to begin much earlier than previous estimated.

Work on the interior of the plant officially began last month, with Tesla acting as its own contractor. The facility houses the manufacturing of battery packs for Tesla’s Powerwall, the energy-storage system that homebuilders are watching carefully as a potential upsell in new homes.

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