Tesla Motors and Solar City: A Match Made in HEAVEN
You know what sucks? Vehicles. Well, vehicles as we know them today at least. What’s even more sucky? Vehicles are EVERYWHERE. Try to go a day without seeing a vehicle. It’s pretty darn difficult. They are loud, gas guzzling, polluting, inefficient, expensive hunks of junk… Let’s ponder some things that make these machines a thing of the past!
Car problems. We all know them. We all dread them. So, why do our vehicles always decide to take dumps on us? It’s because there are a number of moving, high-temperature, fluid carrying parts. This combined with combustion (small explosions) make current vehicles pretty dang tootin unsafe and unreliable. Keeping all of these parts functioning properly requires a lot of attention… Attention in the form of reaching into your piggy bank month after month! That little piggy deserves a break don’t ya think?
In a world with an ever increasing amount of pollution (and car problems). Tesla Motors has stormed the scene and is redesigning the concept of a car. Making it beautiful, electric, practical, quiet, efficient, and friendlier to the atmosphere.
Tesla cars are fully electric, meaning, you’ll never have to go to a gas station again, let that sink in. As I sit here, lounging in my undergarments, furiously jamming away at my keyboard. Tesla is carving the landscape with “supercharging stations”. Super charging what? These stations are completely free and will allow you to charge your battery from 0–80 percent in thirty minutes! (80 percent is enough to go about 170 miles). These stations are strategically located in places that are in close proximity to shopping malls, coffee joints, food pubs, you know, the places that you would be hanging out at anyways! You can also plug it in at home. Imagine that, waking up every morning with a “full tank of gas”. Wooooahh dude!
A Tesla car consists of a few main components. A battery, some wheels, a power-train (converts the electricity from the battery to the wheels), and a chassis. Clean, uncluttered, and simple. This alleviates many of the concerns that come along with conventional combustion vehicles. Obviously, things can still go wrong, but the array of possible problems is dramatically reduced. Another nifty little thing? When something does goes wrong with the vehicle… There is a built in self-diagnosis mechanism that figures out what’s wrong, and calls back to the “Mothership” (Tesla headquarters) and tells the Service Center what needs to be done. If that doesn’t sound convenient to you, I don’t know what does!
As I type, Tesla is building the second largest square footage building ever made! The “Gigafactory”. It’s located in the Nevada desert. and it will produce more batteries when it is fully operational than the whole world was producing in 2013. That’s a lot of batteries. Their plan is to make 500,000 electric vehicles per year by 2020. Now, these aren’t your run of the mill, geeky looking, soccer-mom electric cars that you see driving around today. These are some slick looking stud machines. Think of Brad Pitt, but in car form. Pretty sweet, huh?
Tesla already has 3 vehicles and is working on it’s fourth (and for me, most exciting) because it’s potentially affordable for a chump like myself. The Tesla model 3 is going to have a range of 215 miles per charge and be able to go from 0–60 in under 6 seconds. What’s even better? It’s 35k! even cheaper if your state has incentives for electric vehicles. Honestly, I still won’t be able to afford one. But, it will be a hell of a lot better to see driving around than the poopmobiles that are on the road right now!
They are planning on implementing fully autonomous driving in the near future. That means you can sit in the back seat and play Pokemon Go while your car brings you to your destination. Stop and go traffic? Perfect! Time to search for a Blastoise. Anyways, all of these things considered, wouldn’t it seem important to ween ourselves off of the outdated concept of what a vehicle is supposed to be? I mean, combustion vehicles are burning holes in our pockets and our atmosphere. Even if you don’t “believe” in global warming wouldn’t it be nice to drive something that isn’t spewing out clouds of smoke??
Lets talk about something that most of us take for granted. Electricity! It powers our computers, our phones, TVs, microwaves, A/C units, if it’s got a light, you can thank electricity! So, when you flip that light switch, what’s going on behind the scenes? Is it witchcraft? Is it magic? Unfortunately, it’s not! Let me explain to you the typical path that electricity takes.
You come home from a hard day working on the railroad (assuming that’s still a thing) the sun is setting, and you want to be able to see while you are pouring your evening bowl of Apple-jacks. So, you flip on a light switch! The flipping of the switch connects the internal wires to the “grid”. The grid, you say? The grid Is the country wide connection of wires that constantly carries electricity from its source to its destination. It’s source? Currently, the majority of electricity is made at power plants by huge generators. Most power plants use coal, but some use natural gas… An even smaller amount use water, wind, and solar.
Here is an equation for all of you math freaks out there.
Power plant > Transformer (stepping up the voltage) > Power lines > Transformer (stepping down the voltage > Light-bulb > You, in your boxers eating Apple-jacks.
So, what’s so “bad” about this system? Well, the burning of coal emits massive amounts of pollution into our atmosphere (as if burning fossil fuels wasn’t bad enough). Last year approximately 400,000 tons of air pollutants were produced from these plants in the U.S. alone. That is equivalent to the weight of 10,000 semis. WTF. This stuff isn’t too material either, it’s just floating about in the air for us to inhale. You ever see those pictures of smog in China?!? Talk about gross. Why are we doing this!? Well, I don’t think the creators of this system ever thought about the environmental impact it would have, or that it would become as big as it did. The good thing is: we can learn from that mistake…
Let me introduce you to a longtime friend of mine, he’s kind, friendly, and keeps you alive, even if you don’t appreciate him! Are you ready? Sound the royal trumpets! *Bompbadalaaaa*… THE SUN! Have you seen this thing? It’s pretty cool huh? Ever wonder why we don’t just use that to power our lives? I mean, it seems pretty powerful. In fact, every day the earth receives 10,000 times more power from the sun, than the world currently uses. Holy moley, that’s a lot. There are companies who are implementing ways to harness the power of this big bad beast. How in the heck can you do that mister? Let me explain some of the basics behind harnessing the suns power.
A solar panel is made up of teeny tiny units called solar cells. Think of these cells as a silver and silicon sandwich (other metals can be used too, but silver is currently the most common). Silver is the bread. Silicon is the junk in between. Now, Silicon is a “semi-conductor” meaning, when it heats up, electricity flows through it. Silver however, is a “conducter”, meaning electricity can easily flow through it. So, the sun’s rays come bursting into this sandwich, exciting the electrons in the silicon. Then, the bread (silver) sucks the excited electrons out of the silicon and pushes them into circulation. The solar panel array combines and directs all of the energy being produced! Pretty cool, huh?
Lets talk about some of these elements really quick. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust. This is why we use silicon instead of other semi-conductors. Why is silver used as the conductor? Because it does the best job at conducting! Duh! Problem is, that shit is expensive. Have you seen the recent silver prices? $20 per ounce! Jeeeeez. Well what’s next on the list of conductive metals? Is it Metallica? Slayer? Iron Maiden? Nope, its Copper! Copper is the second most conductive metal (barely trailing behind silver) It’s very inexpensive (about 1 cent per ounce) and it’s everywhere! Well this is good news… What’s even better? There is a company that recognizes the potential here and is now capitalizing on the underlying opportunity. Welcome, to Solar City…
Solar City, already the leading installer of residential solar panels in the United States, is replacing the silver in this equation with the cheaper and more abundant copper. On top of that, these new panels convert more sunlight into electricity than any other solar panel on the market today. Like Tesla, they are building a Gigafactory: Except this one is in upstate New York. When this factory is complete, SolarCity will do everything from making these new and improved solar cells… To putting them on rooftop. Neato!
Now, Producing solar does not have zero impact on our environment. There are substances that can be potentially hazardous if you were to come into direct contact with them (but come on, why would you be climbing around on your roof licking your solar panel, I know its shiny and pretty, but find something else to do ya perv!). The hazards presented are nothing even relatively close to the scale of pollution we are seeing with our current systems. With the proper recycling program, the environmental impact is even more dramatically cut… Another wonderful thing is: Once the panel is manufactured and set up, it’s not pumping out plumes of toxic gas for its entire life (like coal power plants do).
Want to know something else that’s sweet? If your solar panels are producing excess energy throughout the day. You can sell it back to the grid! Essentially turning your house into a small Eco-friendly power plant that you can make money off of, “That’s super sweet dude”, I know right?
The recent proposal for a merger between these 2 companies has sparked up much debate…“It’s too ambitious!” “It’s impossible” “the worst business decision ever!” “It’s Genius!”. The list goes on and on… Why is there so much debate here? Well, besides people worrying about the fluctuation of stock prices. I think we should take a step back from the platform of personal profits, and look at the things that could be accomplished from a societal standpoint, if these 2 companies merged…
So, what do these 2 companies have in common?
You guessed it! E.l.e.c.t.r.i.c.i.t.y. Solar City takes care of the production and distribution of electricity, while Tesla takes care of the storage, and application of electricity. This kind of match can’t be found by swiping right on tinder… This was meant to be! This means the birth of a company that is completely vertically integrated, from the top of its head, to the tips of its toes. Conveniently re-branded as Tesla. (Can I say something real quick? it’s about damn time Nicola Tesla gets some credit. The man was a genius whose ideas were undermined by greed, and ended up dying alone in a hotel room because of it. Poor guy.)
Anyways, this new Tesla would provide a sleek and powerful name in the world of electricity. One that (If properly implemented) could create “the “Apple” of Electricity” (Thanks Tom Randall for that analogy). A company that you could easily rely on to give you the most technologically advanced, high quality products, in the most user friendly way. This is what both of these industries need! The electric car industry is a giant mess. The cars look ridiculous. The concepts are all over the place… The solar industry is a mess. Its difficult to find proper information.
The integration of these two companies would create a single place to go for the highest quality information in both of these fields. It would make the purchase and implementation of these technologies readily available and easily bundled. It would breed simplicity in integrating these technologies into our lives as quickly and efficiently as possible. This could help us break the bonds that currently keep us relying on mass pollution to power our lives. It could directly benefit the lives of everybody who uses electricity (and since you are reading this on a computer, yeah, that means you too). That should be the roll of corporations don’t you think? Improving the lives of the people. Instead of just profiting off of the people. I think so too.
So what’s the new equation?
Sun > Solar Panel > Battery > House/Car