Tag Archives: solar power

Tesla to pair world’s largest lithium ion battery with Neoen wind farm in SA


The South Australian Government has teamed up with Tesla to roll out the world's largest virtual...

The world’s largest lithium ion battery will be installed in South Australia under a historic agreement between French renewable energy company Neoen, US sustainable energy company Tesla and the South Australian Government.

The energy storage systems from Tesla will be paired with Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm and installed before summer.

Confirming the commitment from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to deliver the battery within 100 days or it is free, it has been agreed between Tesla and the South Australian Government that the starting date for the 100 days will be once the grid interconnection agreement has been signed.

After leading the nation in renewable energy, the 100MW / 129MWh battery places South Australia at the forefront of global energy storage technology.

The battery will operate at all times providing stability services for renewable energy, and will be available to provide emergency back-up power if a shortfall in energy is predicted.

The deal will also bring other investments by both Neoen and Tesla into South Australia’s economy, with details to be announced in the future.

The selection of Neoen will also strengthen South Australia’s links with France’s high-tech sector and reinforce the State’s world-leading role in tackling global warming.


Wind power with battery storage has been recommended through the Finkel Review as well as AEMO’s recent reports to provide energy system security services – this plan delivers on these objectives.

Neoen was selected on a merit basis after a multi-stage procurement process attracted around 90 responses to the Expression of Interest, with 14 proponents invited to supply, and 5 shortlisted for detailed assessment.

The consortium demonstrated it is capable of delivering 100MW of capacity by December 1 and provided a highly competitive commercial offer with the best value for money.

Neoen and Tesla have a track record in comparable scale projects, and are committed to deliver on time at the lowest cost with a suite of value-adding initiatives.

In March, the State Government announced a plan for South Australia to take charge of its energy future, ensuring our State would become more self-reliant.

Find out more about this project at hornsdalepowerreserve.com.au

The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)


Background: My day job is running a space transportation company called SpaceX, but on the side I am the chairman of Tesla Motors and help formulate the business and product strategy with Martin and the rest of the team. I have also been Tesla Motor’s primary funding source from when the company was just three people and a business plan.

As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars. This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.

Critical to making that happen is an electric car without compromises, which is why the Tesla Roadster is designed to beat a gasoline sports car like a Porsche or Ferrari in a head to head showdown. Then, over and above that fact, it has twice the energy efficiency of a Prius. Even so, some may question whether this actually does any good for the world. Are we really in need of another high performance sports car? Will it actually make a difference to global carbon emissions?

Well, the answers are no and not much. However, that misses the point, unless you understand the secret master plan alluded to above. Almost any new technology initially has high unit cost before it can be optimized and this is no less true for electric cars. The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.

Without giving away too much, I can say that the second model will be a sporty four door family car at roughly half the $89k price point of the Tesla Roadster and the third model will be even more affordable. In keeping with a fast growing technology company, all free cash flow is plowed back into R&D to drive down the costs and bring the follow on products to market as fast as possible. When someone buys the Tesla Roadster sports car, they are actually helping pay for development of the low cost family car.

Now I’d like to address two repeated arguments against electric vehicles — battery disposal and power plant emissions. The answer to the first is short and simple, the second requires a bit of math:

Batteries that are not toxic to the environment!
I wouldn’t recommend them as a dessert topping, but the Tesla Motors Lithium-Ion cells are not classified as hazardous and are landfill safe. However, dumping them in the trash would be throwing money away, since the battery pack can be sold to recycling companies (unsubsidized) at the end of its greater than 100,000-mile design life. Moreover, the battery isn’t dead at that point, it just has less range.

Power Plant Emissions aka “The Long Tailpipe”
(For a more detailed version of this argument, please see the white paper written by Martin and Marc.)

A common rebuttal to electric vehicles as a solution to carbon emissions is that they simply transfer the CO2 emissions to the power plant. The obvious counter is that one can develop grid electric power from a variety of means, many of which, like hydro, wind, geothermal, nuclear, solar, etc. involve no CO2emissions. However, let’s assume for the moment that the electricity is generated from a hydrocarbon source like natural gas, the most popular fuel for new US power plants in recent years.

The H-System Combined Cycle Generator from General Electric is 60% efficient in turning natural gas into electricity. “Combined Cycle” is where the natural gas is burned to generate electricity and then the waste heat is used to create steam that powers a second generator. Natural gas recovery is 97.5% efficient, processing is also 97.5% efficient and then transmission efficiency over the electric grid is 92% on average. This gives us a well-to-electric-outlet efficiency of 97.5% x 97.5% x 60% x 92% = 52.5%.

Despite a body shape, tires and gearing aimed at high performance rather than peak efficiency, the Tesla Roadster requires 0.4 MJ per kilometer or, stated another way, will travel 2.53 km per mega-joule of electricity. The full cycle charge and discharge efficiency of the Tesla Roadster is 86%, which means that for every 100 MJ of electricity used to charge the battery, about 86 MJ reaches the motor.

Bringing the math together, we get the final figure of merit of 2.53 km/MJ x 86% x 52.5% = 1.14 km/MJ. Let’s compare that to the Prius and a few other options normally considered energy efficient.

The fully considered well-to-wheel efficiency of a gasoline powered car is equal to the energy content of gasoline (34.3 MJ/liter) minus the refinement & transportation losses (18.3%), multiplied by the miles per gallon or km per liter. The Prius at an EPA rated 55 mpg therefore has an energy efficiency of 0.56 km/MJ. This is actually an excellent number compared with a “normal” car like the Toyota Camry at 0.28 km/MJ.

Note the term hybrid as applied to cars currently on the road is a misnomer. They are really just gasoline powered cars with a little battery assistance and, unless you are one of the handful who have an aftermarket hack, the little battery has to be charged from the gasoline engine. Therefore, they can be considered simply as slightly more efficient gasoline powered cars. If the EPA certified mileage is 55 mpg, then it is indistinguishable from a non-hybrid that achieves 55 mpg. As a friend of mine says, a world 100% full of Prius drivers is still 100% addicted to oil.

The CO2 content of any given source fuel is well understood. Natural gas is 14.4 grams of carbon per mega-joule and oil is 19.9 grams of carbon per mega-joule. Applying those carbon content levels to the vehicle efficiencies, including as a reference the Honda combusted natural gas and Honda fuel cell natural gas vehicles, the hands down winner is pure electric:

Car Energy Source CO2 Content Efficiency CO2 Emissions
Honda CNG Natural Gas 14.4 g/MJ 0.32 km/MJ 45.0 g/km
Honda FCX Nat Gas-Fuel Cell 14.4 g/MJ 0.35 km/MJ 41.1 g/km
Toyota Prius Oil 19.9 g/MJ 0.56 km/MJ 35.8 g/km
Tesla Roadster Nat Gas-Electric 14.4 g/MJ 1.14 km/MJ 12.6 g/km


The Tesla Roadster still wins by a hefty margin if you assume the average CO2 per joule of US power production. The higher CO2 content of coal compared to natural gas is offset by the negligible CO2content of hydro, nuclear, geothermal, wind, solar, etc. The exact power production mixture varies from one part of the country to another and is changing over time, so natural gas is used here as a fixed yardstick.

Becoming Energy Positive
I should mention that Tesla Motors will be co-marketing sustainable energy products from other companies along with the car. For example, among other choices, we will be offering a modestly sized and priced solar panel from SolarCity, a photovoltaics company (where I am also the principal financier). This system can be installed on your roof in an out of the way location, because of its small size, or set up as a carport and will generate about 50 miles per day of electricity.

If you travel less than 350 miles per week, you will therefore be “energy positive” with respect to your personal transportation. This is a step beyond conserving or even nullifying your use of energy for transport – you will actually be putting more energy back into the system than you consume in transportation! So, in short, the master plan is:

  1. Build sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options

Don’t tell anyone.

Solar Power Could Be Harvested In Space And Beamed Back To Earth

Space Age Solar Power

Solar installations have increasingly become popular here on Earth. In some cities, it appears that almost every roof is covered by at least a solar water heater and in other locations solar electricity generation setups have sprung up like wildfire. But one idea is to move large scale power generation out into space where there is plenty of room and little limitation on the supply of solar energy.

The basic concept sounds workable. A giant power station in orbit around the earth traps ever present sunlight with the help of thousands of photovoltaic (PV) panels. 24 hour sunshine is guaranteed because of the orbit. The light is converted into electricity and then a technological breakthrough is required to transfer the power down to Earth. Obviously the idea of having a huge, dangling transmission wire connecting he space based power station and a collection point on Earth is totally impractical, in part because of the relative movement of the power station and the planet.

The breakthrough would be to beam the power down in the form of microwaves, almost like giant versions of what is used every day for communication by satellite. The power stations would be about 20,000 miles up in space which is around the same distance that orbiting satellites are located. This would entail huge antennas on Earth to capture the energy carried by the microwaves and convert it back into usable electricity. From there, the distribution to transformers and utility grids would be taken care of by existing technology.

Public suspicion of what the health issues are with microwaves emanating from space of the size envisaged should be countered by the fact that the energy levels of the microwave beams would actually be quite low.

The main obstacle that would need to be surmounted is more of a financial one. The cost of putting solar power stations would be very high and the only way to make space solar economic would be to cut down the weight of the equipment much more than it is at the moment.

Several companies are working on solar space power stations and think that the first commercially viable one may be ready for operation in around a decade.

Source: Solar Action Alliance

Strawberry Smart Benches that charge mobile phones and monitor pollution levels are installed in London




Strawberry Smart Benches Launch in London’s Canary Wharf London’s Canary Wharf shows its smart city credentials with solar-powered benches London (16 h of October, 2015) – Solar-powered Strawberry Smart Benches, have been unveiled in a world first at London’s Canary Wharf.

The launch of this new smart city technology follows Strawberry energy’s success at the Canary Wharf Cognicity Challenge. Strawberry Smart Benches represent reliable and smart city infrastructure made to meet the daily needs of the mobile generation, by providing on-the-go access to energy to recharge mobile devices. The four benches have been specially designed to suit the needs of any district that is oriented toward smart city concept. They are installed across the estate, at Jubilee Park, Cabot Square, Westferry Circus, and in front of Crossrail Station in Canary Wharf. As well as powering-up mobiles, tablets and portable music players, the Strawberry Smart Benches track air quality and noise levels in the surrounding area and include an emergency call button linked to the Canary Wharf Help Estate Centre. A further benefit of the benches is greater community feeling in public spaces, as users are motivated to chat and spend more time outdoors.

Public reactions have been strong, with passers-by attracted to the elegant and striking design by Belgrade-based architect Miloš Milivojević. The launch in Canary Wharf is the first in a roll-out across London and the UK. Value of Strawberry Smart Benches has already been recognized by local authorities, institutions and public. This innovative street furniture has recently been chosen as a winner of the ‘Connecting people and creating communities’ competition, organized by the Institute for Sustainability in partnership with the Mayor of London’s Office and supported by EIT Digital. “We are in negotiations with real estate companies and boroughs in London, so we expect that at least 10 more smart benches like these will be on service to Londoners until the end of this year,’ said Miloš Milisavljević, CEO and founder of Strawberry energy.

To speed the placement of benches, Strawberry energy is offering an early adopters programme,  with benches provided at an introductory price. “We invite Londoners to suggest locations where they would like Strawberry Smart Bench to be installed by tweeting the location with the hashtag #SEBenchLDN, and we will do our best to make it happen”, he added.

Source: Strawberry Energy




Vodafone provides M2M connectivity for BBOXX Smart Power

BBOXX ensures reliable energy for remote communities worldwide using Vodafone M2M


BBOXX was founded in 2010 to provide “an on-grid experience in an off-grid world”. The company’s smart solar units can be activated, updated and managed centrally. It distributes to 40+ countries, though its primary markets are Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. BBOXX aims to have four million smart solar units in operation by 2020.


An estimated 1.3 billion people go without reliable electricity. This has a tremendous impact on health, education and productivity across large parts of Africa and Asia. These communities tend to be rural and hard to reach. On-grid solutions are unlikely.

Business Need:

BBOXX is the brainchild of three graduates of Imperial College, London. The final-year project to deliver electricity to a village in Rwanda has turned into a serious, global business proposition designing, manufacturing and distributing solar systems. Fundamental to this solution is connectivity and the means to manage this globally from a single platform.


The BBOXX solution is a smart solar power generator, capable of being managed centrally. Remote monitoring allows BBOXX to check for faults, install firmware updates and shut down the units in the event of missed payments. Vodafone M2M SIMs installed in every solar unit mean BBOXX can deploy quickly anywhere in the world. Five thousand units have already been deployed, there are a further 6,000 in production and 8,000 on order. BBOXX aims to have 100,000 units in the market by the end of 2016, mostly in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Business Benefits:

  • Enables BBOXX to launch robust, off-grid power unit, with means to serve rural communities
  • Single Global SIM enables the business to plan for expansion from 1,000 units to four million within six years
  • Provides a real-time view of customer usage, payments and SIM control from a single Global platform
  • Builds a detailed picture of off-grid energy use, invaluable for next rounds of funding

The units can be up and running almost out-of-the-box. Activation takes less than an hour, managed from London. We have units operational in more than 12 countries, from Ghana to Pakistan – this would not have been possible without Vodafone. Chris Baker-Brian, Chief Technology Officer, BBOXX

Source: Vodafone