Solar Carport for the Tesla Cybertruck?

Australian Startup Poised To Solve Problems For Tesla Cybertruck With Unique Solar Carport

The Tesla Cybertruck has received nearly 150,000 pre-orders, despite its widely-mocked launch. With production set to begin in 2021, the Cybertruck has been widely criticised by skeptics, not least because of its unconventional form, which is incompatible with other truck parts and is unlikely to fit in a standard garage or parking space. Tesla is no stranger to bumps in the road, however, and already creative thinkers are beginning to navigate the issue. At the forefront is Iron Matrix, an Australian startup focused on clean energy buildings. 

A Solar Carport Fit For A Cybertruck

Iron Matrix has unveiled plans for a solar-panelled carport to go alongside its solar construction to support life off-grid, which has recently been patented. The company’s founder and CEO, David Morgan, thought up a straightforward design using bolted steel construction techniques to produce a shelter for the Cybertruck that generates energy. Solar carports have proven successful in other areas, supplying energy to entire businesses and generating their own income in addition to charging the electric vehicles they shelter. Morgan plans to target the Californian market, and the Cybertruck-friendly solar port has been granted a tech patent in the USA. The design plans for the port suggest that the invention will be capable of powering the Cybertruck for approximately 100km per charge.

Charge Anywhere

What’s really special about Iron Matrix’s design is that the port is to be flat-pack, with each steel piece able to fit into the Cybertruck for easy transportation, allowing you to construct the port and charge the vehicle wherever you are. The design takes a fundamental problem with the Cybertruck’s design and turns it into an advantage: the garage space travels with you. “All of a sudden that Cybertruck sounds like a fantastic idea,” said Morgan, whose patent for the solar construction method allows Iron Matrix buildings to be built anywhere – cranes, footings and scaffolding are not needed due to the specialised joint connections used.

Power For 100km A Day

The Cybertruck will require a significant amount of energy to charge, but Morgan estimates that the solar carport will be capable of outputting approximately 30kWh per day. He says the port will get a standard electric vehicle about 150km a day, and the Cybertruck roughly 100km a day. The idea is that the truck could be left to charge for a few days while you take the weekend to live off-grid. The Iron Matrix system was inspired by the falling cost of lithium batteries, which can now “deliver a kilowatt hour for half the price of the grid,” said Morgan. The Cybertruck carport can already be ordered: production of the steel began in October 2019 and became publicly available once Iron Matrix received its patent.

There is international competition for Iron Matrix though: Lars Büro, a design and research agency in New York has unveiled a ‘Cyberbunker’ designed to solve the same problem for Tesla’s Cybertruck. Iron Matrix’s unique system of solar charging, however, is sure to keep it a step ahead of its competitors.

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Australia’s wineries go green using solar energy

Australia’s wineries go green using solar energy

More Australian wineries are turning to the sun, making the switch to solar power to help in wine production. Driven by rising costs of electricity from non-renewable sources, lower costs of solar power installation, and the potential benefits of producing own power, many wineries haven taken the bold step of investing in more renewable sources. By utilising solar energy for growing grapes and producing wines, wineries in Australia can both save on major costs and reduce their overall carbon footprint.

Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash

Electricity is the biggest expense in wine production

For most wineries in Australia, electricity is their largest expense item in the production of their wines. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) estimates that around 40% of expenditures of wineries go towards electricity, whilst the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) says that refrigeration eats up 50-70% of total power costs. Thus, it is no surprise that vineyards look for ways to reduce energy expenses.

Investing in renewable sources makes sense that will drive electricity expenditures down, lower overhead costs, and improve margins. For producers of quality Australian red wines, solar power not only reduces energy costs, but also maximises commercial roof space and reaffirms their commitment to a lower carbon footprint.

Incentive to attract investments in solar power

Solar power adoption surged in Australia in 2008, and even though costs of materials and installation were high, government incentives were also widely available until 2011. Between 2011-14, the prices of solar systems fell. From 2014 to present, there is relative stability in the solar system industry. Photovoltaic (PV) system prices are down significantly and there are existing incentive schemes for solar panels and batteries that are offered at state level, making investments in the area still attractive.

For 2020, interest-free loans up to $9,000 for a solar battery and $14,000 for a solar PV and battery storage system for households with an annual income of $180,000 or less are available. Under the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme, both households and smalls business in Australia that install small-scale renewable energy systems may be eligible for assistance to help with the purchase cost. Eligible participants may be entitled to small-scale technology certificates which can be sold to recoup a part of the purchase and installation cost.

Wineries adopt renewable power sources

An independent report produced by AgEconPlus revealed a 13% increase in the economic contribution of the wine industry since 2015 or an increase of roughly 3% per year. Strong wine exports are largely responsible for recovery in the wine sector. But, the competition is tough and the over 2,000 wineries in Australia have to stay competitive.

In fact, wineries were some of the earliest adopters of solar energy, with dozens in South Australia harnessing solar energy for wine production. Some wineries that have in excess of 100kW solar systems include D’Arenberg, Wirra Wirra, Sidewood, and Peter Lehmann. Recently, Pernod Ricard has become the first large wine company in the country to achieve 100% renewable electricity with the completion of Australia’s biggest combined winery solar installation. According to the winery’s chief operations officer, Brett McKinnon, “being sustainable and responsible is an important part of their business and they want to reduce their impact on the communities where they operate”.

Australian wineries recognise the opportunities to tap into solar energy and enjoy the cost-saving and environmental benefits. Using renewable sources not only lowers electricity costs, but also fulfils a company’s global-minded goals.

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Rolling With The Times: The Business Benefits of Going Green

While 90% of Australian businesses are interested in being environmentally sustainable, only half are actively doing their share, according to HP Australia. That is an interesting thought given that sustainable and eco-friendly technology is consistently improving. In order to get brands and businesses to be more environmentally aware, they must get a clear understanding of the benefits they can reap from solar panels and the like. So what sort of benefits exist? 

Energy Cost Savings and Rebates

One of the ways retailers can become green is by embracing energy efficiency. Solar panel technology is a gateway to energy cost savings and energy efficiency. It’s also an opportunity to earn more money. A good example of this is David Green of Melbourne who sheared off nearly $500 from his energy bill by installing solar panels. Beyond that, he was able to earn $800 from the government as any excess energy he generates gets sent into the grid which is distributed to other consumers. These are savings and earnings that savvy businesses can take part in and it’s all because of embracing eco-friendly solutions.

Green Fund Loan 

The Australian government is also embracing the sustainability movement and is actively empowering consumers to do the same. A common concern about renewable technology is the initial hefty cost that goes along with it. Australia’s answer to that is the Sustainable Australia Fund wherein consumers and businesses can offset the costs of solar panel installation prices through a loan that can be paid over a 20-year period. Needless to say, switching to sustainable technologies is an affordable and practical move that every business will benefit from.

Sustainable Consumer Benefit

Businesses listen to the loudest voice and this voice belongs to their consumers. Roughly 83% of Australians expressed that it was extremely important to them that brands offer environmentally friendly products and services, according to Accenture. From the packaging to the materials, consumers are now highly discerning about the brands they patronise. If a brand does not share a client’s conservation-led advocacy, those consumers are less likely to be customers. When brands do not adjust accordingly, their profit margins will eventually suffer. So businesses that embrace solar technology effectively attract consumers who are concerned about sustainability and the environment.

The concept of sustainability is not just a trend with benefits, it is virtually a necessity. Businesses must realise by now that being eco-friendly isn’t just a statement or a PR move. It is something that they and the community they are a part of will ultimately benefit from.

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Tesla Solar Roof Problems | What’s Next?

Tesla roof woes – Some early adopters have been experiencing Tesla solar roof problems – with one roof in Colorado catching fire and whispers of a secret “Project Titan” which Tesla have launched last year to fix faulty wiring/connectors on Tesla solar roofs America wide.

Tesla Solar Roof Problems

Tesla solar roof problems have been plaguing the company as people begin to wonder about the company’s cashflow, vision, and whether they may have overextended themselves. Well, by people I mean me – talking about Tesla as a whole. Powerwalls, Powerpacks, Model 3s, Solar Roofs. Let me know what you think in the comments. Certainly can’t blame Elon Musk for being conservative or not taking risks! 

An article by Business Insider notes that Briana Greer from Colorado was contacted by Tesla in late July about some ‘voltage fluctuations’ for the past couple of days. They promised to come and fix it on August 8 but unfortunately the house experienced a Combustible Episode before the techs arrived. According to Greer, they also wouldn’t tell her what went wrong:

“They purposely keep a lot of people in the dark. For an energy company, that’s ironic,” Greer told Business Insider in an interview last month. Wonder how long it took her to think up that one. Still, good burn.

Tesla Solar Roof
Tesla Solar Roof Problems (source: tesla.com)

According to the same article Tesla were quoted in Fox Colorado as saying “its solar panels are safe and very rarely catch fire.” Well, that’s reassuring! 

The system was installed by Xcel Energy and made by Trina (who recommend panels be inspected twice a year – something Greer says Telstra didn’t do).  

In August, Walmart sued Tesla after seven of its stores caught fire – Walmart are also complaining that Tesla can’t (or won’t?) tell them why the fire started. According to Walmart’s research, Tesla used faulty Amphenol connectors which failed in their task of heat regulation. This lead to the solar panels being subjected to a barrage of temperature spikes (which, ultimately, can lead to Walmarts on fire). Not great news. In any case, the ‘Project Titan‘ is pretty interesting, click to read Business Insider’s article on it.

If you’re interested in reading more articles talking about solar roof technology and goings on please click!

Got one of these Tesla roofs and having issues with it? Please let us know in the comments. 

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Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

 There’s been a big announcement from Deakin University who have figured out a process to remove the silicon from used solar panels – repurposing it for lithium-ion batteries. Let’s learn more about this solar recycling update which was also discussed over at Renew Economy. 

Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

(source: https://www.deakin.edu.au/ifm)

There’s been a new advancement in solar recycling research. The relatively short lifespan of solar panels and the huge issue of e-waste has been something researchers have been wrestling with for years.

Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials has been where Material scientists Dr Md Mokhlesur Rahman and Prof Ying (Ian) Chen have conducted this groundbreaking research. Probably makes more sense coming from them, so here you go:

“Our discovery addresses several significant challenges currently facing industries dependent on batteries and energy storage heading into the future, Dr Rahman said.

“First, being such an exceptionally high value commodity with widespread applications we do not want any of this precious product wasted. Battery grade nano-silicon is highly expensive and retails for more than $44,000 per kilogram.

“Second, with the automotive industry set to be battery driven in the future, the push to find ways to increase battery capacity is growing.

“Part of the silicon repurposing process is to nano-size the battery grade silicon, leaving a nano-silicon which can store about 10 times more energy in the same space.” Dr Rahman continued.

His colleague Dr Chen elaborated on the importance of being able to extract the silicon cells and reuse them:

“Silicon cells are the most important component of a solar panel, transferring the sun’s energy into electrons,” Professor Chen said.

“They’re also a high-value material being a chemical element and far too precious to end up as waste, which is why this finding is significant.

“We can’t claim solar panels to be recyclable, in a circular economy sense, until scientists find a way to harvest and repurpose their most valuable components,” he said.

So whilst it’s not solar recycling per se, it’s certainly a gigantic step in the right direction. What will this mean for solar panel recycling companies such as Reclaim PV? Hopefully it’ll give them a big push as well. The lifespan of solar panels has always been the white elephant on the roof so the more we can extract and repurpose from old panels the better.

According to an article on Renew Economy, the project is supported by Institute for Frontier Material’s Circular Economy Strategy Lead, Catherine McMahon, in collaboration with Deakin Research Innovations’ Senior Commercial Manager Andrew Rau and industry partner Delaminating Resources Melbourne.

 

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