Sustainable Energy News Roundup: Tesla & BMW
Over the past week, we saw a flurry of marquee developments in the clean energy sector. Among them, Tesla and Panasonic partnering on the $5 billion “Gigafactory,” Bosch and BMW launching a sub $10K EV charger, Stanford researchers scoring a break through in lithium battery capabilities, and Solar Roadways raising more than $2.2 million in its Indiegogo fundraising campaign.
Tesla’s bold plan to build 500,000 EVs per year by 2020 and deliver an EV that competes in the $35K range (Model 3) by 2017, hinges on its ability to dramatically reduce the cost of its batteries. Its solution, the Gigafactory, a planned super warehouse capable of scaling its operations to meet growing demand for EV batteries. Panasonic recently agreed to partner with the Palo Alto-based company and is helping foot the estimated $5 billion price tag. Panasonic insists its investment will be incremental and likely not exceed $1 billion. Even so, this relationship provides Tesla with a sorely needed partner to help shoulder the cost, burden, and risk of such a dramatic and ambitious move. Panasonic’s commitment adds to the $2.3 billion Tesla raised in March. While the factory location has still not been finalized, sites in Nevada, California, and Texas are rumored to be the favorites.
In other news, Bosch will supply and install the BMW i DC Fast Charger for North American BMW i Centers and authorized partners, starting this month. The sub $10k charger is more compact and comes with a friendlier price tag than competing chargers. It can charge a BMW i3 battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes.
Stanford researchers say they have made a major step toward creating a “pure lithium battery.” According to USA Today, a team that includes former Energy secretary Steven Chu, says it’s building a lithium anode battery that might give electric vehicles a 300-mile driving range and triple a cellphone’s juice. The Stanford team is using nanotechnology to help build a battery that has the potential to be a game changer in a variety of industries. Researchers say it will likely take three to five years to bring the product to market.
Solar Roadways, a company that plans to replace concrete and asphalt surfaces with solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds), raised more than $2.2 million in its Indiegogo fundraising campaign that ended in June. The Idaho-based company has received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for its research and development. Its glass surface has been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance. Tests exceeded all requirements.