Energy trends, leadership, personal development and hot topics
Friday, March 7, 2014
Tesla’s focus on new batteries could change the auto and electric utility industry
Tesla Motors is not just a car company. Because the equipment and charging (fueling) infrastructure doesn’t fully exist to make electric cars ubiquitous, Tesla is taking the reigns to make better batteries.
Tesla is working hard to impose a new car-driving business model on the planet. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just an observation. And it’s something that will impact the electric utility industry as well. At first blush, electric utilities might imagine all that new electric car load and how to supply it. After all, one-third of the nation’s energy is used in transportation (another third is electricity).
But Tesla is thinking bigger. They’re building a new battery factory, called a “gigafactory.” They want to build their own dedicated batteries that hold a big charge and last a long time. Since existing electric cars can only go about 100 miles without plugging in for a few hours, better batteries will help that industry expand.
New battery technology is pushing plug-in hybrid cars like the Chevy Volt and the Plug-in Prius to expand their markets significantly.
Elon Muck, Tesla’s CEO, has other plans. Not only does he want to build cars, batteries and quick car-charging stations, he also wants to sell batteries to customers and utilities to manage peak demand. Furthermore, Musk wants customers with solar power to charge batteries during the day and use the power at night.
We can only imagine the options that would open in the energy world with better batteries. Watch Elon Musk at Tesla. They’re pushing the envelope in cars, batteries, renewable energy and demand response.