Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's Talk Tesla

It's August, so we're spending the month time traveling. Today, we're heading back to this past April. Then, several states (including Nevada) were chasing after a new Tesla battery gigafactory.

Amidst all the talk of "Cleantech Crash", even Red States like Arizona and Texas were rushing to lure in Tesla and all those allegedly nonexistent green collar jobs. And now, rumor has it that Nevada, Texas, and California are the finalists for the gigafactory.

Excitement is obviously running high, especially in the Reno area. If Nevada is selected for the gigafactory, Tesla is expected to place it in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park in Storey County (17 miles east of Sparks). Already, speculation is running rampant over a possible special session of the Nevada Legislature being called to address the $400-500 million Tesla executives expect the winning state to chip in to build the gigafactory. (It may happen if Tesla guarantees Nevada the gigafactory, though Legislature leaders don't sound all that excited just yet.)

So why are so many people so excited about Tesla? Consider this: Electric car sales have soared over 70% both in the US and in Europe just over the past year. Over the past 3 years, electric & hybrid car battery sales have tripled. And now that mostly electric hybrid and completely electric cars are starting to enter the automotive mainstream, the growth potential for this sector is looking quite attractive.

And then, there's this. Tesla and other electric car manufacturers are pieces of the puzzle that illustrates our energy future. Tesla, General Motors, and the US Military have all been investing in the research and development of longer lasting batteries. In recent months, Tesla has teamed up with SolarCity to work on solar power storage for commercial buildings. And global investment in renewable energy just hit a 5 quarter high as new projects have emerged from Denmark & Germany to the UK & China to Wyoming & South Carolina (!!!).

So why again are we supposed to believe "we can't afford" meaningful action on climate change? If anything, we can't afford the very real life-threatening (& economy busting) perils of climate change. Meanwhile, we have all these very real economic opportunitiesclimate action.

So what gives? The usual (fossil fuel peddling) suspects are threatened by the future by renewable energy. They're feeling threatened by the progress of Tesla and other electric cars. And they're threatened by the ramifications of aggressive climate action.

Ironically, they don't care about the ramifications of unchecked climate change. They don't care about human survival. They're simply putting short term profits over long term peril.

In the coming days, Nevada Government leaders will need to figure out just how badly they want Tesla's gigafactory in Storey County. But wherever it ultimately lands, it may very well provide glimmers of hope for a brighter future. And Tesla shouldn't be alone in investing in clean energy technology.

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