Production has already begun at the $5bn factory. Alongside batteries for the ever growing fleet of Tesla Motors, Musk hit upon an idea for a home battery system called the Powerwall. The massive Nevada-based factory must produce enough lithium-ion batteries to effectively supply both branches of the battery-business.
The Gigafactory, whilst operational is only running at a fraction of its final predicted output. By 2020, when the entire factory comes online output is predicted to be 35GWh of battery cells, with another 50GWh of battery packs – enough to power around 500,000 Tesla vehicles per year.
The Gigafactory build cost is an estimated $5bn – eye-watering – but Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval estimates Nevada will enjoy around $100bn in economic benefits over the next two decades.
The Gigafactory isn’t even finished and Musk is already considering expansion. Prior to building more Gigafactories, Musk announced Tesla had exercised its option to purchase 1,864 acres of land adjacent to the original 1,000 acre Gigafactory plot. The entire Gigafactory complex could cover over 1,000,000 square meters, given Musk and Tesla unprecedented battery production power.
We mentioned the Powerwall in the previous section. Tesla’s home battery system will provide families the chance to move toward an off-grid lifestyle. The Powerwall comes in two different flavours:
- Powerwall: The Powerwall has two different models to choose from: the 10kWh, and the 7kWh. The latter is designed for daily cycling for a normal family, whilst the larger capacity is designed as a backup power supply.
- Powerpack: The Powerpack is much larger, at 100kWh, and is primarily designed for commercial use.
To meet the demands of both families, businesses, and industries, the Powerwall is ‘infinitely’ expandable, with Tesla wishing to change how the world thinks of and uses power.
The battery technology behind the Powerwall is also pretty smart. The two different models use slightly different generic cell chemistries, with the Powerwall model being optimised for daily cycling, and the Powerpack optimised for higher voltages, and more consistent usage.
However, the actual cell chemistry isn’t unlike the lithium-ion batteries we use in our day-to-day, in our phones, laptops, and cameras. It has just been scaled up.
I’m not sure how many people will immediately jump at the Powerwall, despite its obvious benefits. The price tag of $3,500 for the 10kWh Powerwall is pretty reasonable, in my opinion, but you also have to consider the addition of solar panels, turbines, or other energy gathering nodes around your home. Also, living in Northern Europe means daylight can be at a serious premium for 3-4 months of the year, affecting the harvesting abilities of any residential solar array.
Whatever you or I think of the Powerwall, and indeed Musk and Tesla’s march for a battery powered world, there are a huge number of others who are on-board: the Powerwall is already sold out to Q3/4 2016, with no sign of sales slowing down.