Solar-Powered Teslas Not So Far-Fetched

by Daniel Steingold - Published: 5/05/2017

Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and CEO, recently revealed plans for his car manufacturer to begin producing electrically-powered semi-trucks.

Musk, a darling of the tech world, described Tesla’s new vehicle as being “spry,”which many critics took to mean that it drove similarly to other Tesla vehicles.

Although Tesla’s new freight hauler won’t be fully unveiled until September, many doubt the ability for an all-electric vehicle to handle as well as one that solely operates on fuel.

To skeptics, it’s important to note that there are other large vehicles that operate just fine off of electric power, including ProTerra’s Catalyst electric bus, which actually possesses better acceleration than diesel buses.

Tesla, however, is throwing a wrench into the equation by aiming to use solar-based battery systems to power its vehicles.

To those who doubt the breadth of Tesla’s solar ambitions, it might be comforting to learn that solar power is rapidly growing in scale, according to a new report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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The report, released on Thursday, found that utility-scale solar installation, which encompasses both photovoltaic (PV) and thermal technologies, grew on average by 72 percent annually between 2010 and 2016.

Vitally, solar power now makes up around two percent of total utility-scale electric generation. A majority of this power capacity has been created in the past two years, despite the first large-scale solar plants having been installed in the mid-1980s.

Overall, the report shows how the U.S. has over 21.5 gigawatts (GW) of large-scale solar generating capacity, nearly half of which is in California.

North Carolina (2.3 GW) comes in a distant second to California, followed by Arizona (1.9 GW), Nevada (1.6 GW), and Georgia (1 GW).

Its rapid growth, augmented by generous federal and local tax breaks, hints that the widespread use of solar and alternative energy to power vehicles of commercial size may not be so farfetched.

Furthermore, over half of America’s utility-scale solar capacity hasn’t been harnessed, which suggests that the country could produce much more electricity from solar than it does now.

The EIA does acknowledge in their report, however, that solar power isn’t effective in all regions, nor year-round.

Some believe Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity may finally be hitting the roads soon.