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Tesla's 'GigaFactory': Batteries not included?
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ^ | March 21, 2014 | Daniel Mcgroarty

Posted on 03/22/2014 1:43:07 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

To convey some sense of the audacity of Tesla's Elon Musk and his plans, consider that the sale of all-electric vehicles in the U.S. reached a high of 100,000 in 2013 — but that's still less than 1 percent of all cars sold.

Enter Tesla's GigaFactory, aiming by 2020 for annual production of 500,000 lithium-ion battery packs. Under one roof — a very large one, at 10 million square feet — Tesla will “manage everything from processing raw materials to the assembly of the batteries.”

All of which begs the question: Where is all that lithium going to come from? After all, lithium demand was growing rapidly even before Tesla's Giga gambit.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the percentage of lithium consumed in battery production more than tripled between 2000 and 2009. In fact, the Energy Department rates lithium at “near-critical risk” between now and 2025 as the U.S. imports more than 70 percent of the lithium it needs each year.

It wasn't always that way. As recently as the late 1990s, the United States was the world's lithium leader, producing 75 percent of global supply. In a massive role reversal, nearly 70 percent of the world's lithium now comes from the so-called Lithium Triangle, a region straddling Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. An additional 25 percent comes from Australia, whose largest lithium mine recently was bought by a Chinese conglomerate and much of the rest of its production is already spoken for by Asian buyers.

What about new sources of lithium? There's Bolivia, with fully half of the world's known lithium resource, dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of Lithium,” a sobriquet that unintentionally casts Evo Morales as king of some future Lithium OPEC. Peppering his stump speeches with anti-American barbs, expecting Morales to pick up the lithium supply slack for its Yanqui enemy may be a bad bet.

The good news is that a future of lithium dependency isn't foreordained. There are projects under development that could transform the U.S. landscape for lithium and provide the stuff of Tesla's dreams. Tesla knows this well, which is why the company has touched off a four-state competition, with Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona vying to become home to the GigaFactory.

But the path forward is not without obstacles or obstructionists. Start with the environmental activists, who, while waxing rhapsodic about drawing power from the wind and sun, remain opposed to the mining required to produce metals essential to the capture and use of alternative energy. As for obstacles, look no further than a U.S. regulatory regime that ranks worst in the world for permitting delays: an average of seven to 10 years to bring a mine through permitting and into production.

With the announcement of its GigaFactory, Tesla's thrown its cap over the wall. If demand drives supply, the southwestern U.S. could soon become the electric battery capital of the world.

Daniel McGroarty, principal of Carmot Strategic Group, an issues management firm in Washington, served in senior positions in the White House and at the Department of Defense, and he serves on the independent advisory board of Texas Rare Earth Resources.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: asia; batteries; china; elonmusk; lithium; moon; solarcity; spacex; tesla
Maybe Musk is considering the Moon for his source of lithium.

Making a moon base: Why now is the time ".......If America doesn’t step up to the plate, China’s ambitions for the moon may establish it as the “go-to” nation for space exploration. Many nations of the world privately say they want the moon to be the next step in space exploration -- but they can’t get there on their own. They need a technically savvy and resourceful country to lead.

SpaceX’s heavy launch vehicle could be an interim launch solution to make this vision happen -- and it happens to be at the right price point. NASA spends about $7-8 billion on human space flight today. $2 or 3 billion goes to the International Space Station. NASA’s infrastructure also takes a large chunk, including deep space communication, but that leaves around $3 billion for a lunar initiative. It’s on the low side, but good enough.

This money is currently being spent on infrastructure development that could support a variety of missions, such as the asteroid mission that the administration is currently evaluating. It could also support a lunar initiative if we re-target the moon.

I’d love to go to Mars as well, but as a designer of space vehicles, I know that a lunar initiative is much more feasible from a cost and time standpoint. And offshoots could have profound benefits for more distant forays into space......"

FR Thread with more information "....Even with all the attention it's received to date, Elon Musk's firm remains a small timer as far as global automaking goes. Tesla plans to build 35,000 Model S sedans from its California factory this year; Ford typically builds that many F-Series pickups in about 20 days. All of those cars will rely on lithium-ion battery cells shipped from Asia, where Panasonic and other suppliers control most of the world's supply. While researchers have spent decades hunting for better ways of storing electrical energy, none has emerged as an alternative — and at the moment, there's no technology on the horizon that's better or cheaper......"

1 posted on 03/22/2014 1:43:08 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All
"SolarCity is making the latest advancements in battery technologies available to you through our partnership with Tesla Motors. Only SolarCity's home backup system uses technology engineered by Tesla, leveraging their expertise in developing battery technologies for premium electric vehicles.

Tesla's long history of research and development has enabled a cost-effective, wall-mounted storage appliance that is small, powerful and covered by a long lasting full 10 year warranty.

The actual battery unit is about the size of a solar power inverter, and will be mounted on the wall in your garage or near your electrical panel." - Source: Solar City: Home Energy Storage & Battery Backup System

Elon Musk - Solar City "Elon is the Chairman of SolarCity, the leading residential solar provider in the U.S. In addition to his role at SolarCity, Elon is also the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, an all-electric American car company. As Chairman at Tesla Motors, Elon helped design the ground-breaking Tesla Roadster, for which he won an Index and a Global Green award, the latter presented by Mikhail Gorbachev.

Elon is also the founder and CEO of SpaceX - a space launch vehicle company. Prior to SpaceX, he co-founded PayPal, the world's leading electronic payment system, and served as the company's chairman and CEO. PayPal went public in early 2002 and was sold to eBay later that year for $1.5 billion. Elon's first company was an Internet software company called Zip2. He co-founded Zip2 in 1995, serving initially as CEO and then as CTO. Zip2 was sold to Compaq in 1999 for over $300 million in an all cash transaction.

Elon's commitment to renewable energy extends beyond his roles at SolarCity, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Elon is a trustee of the X Prize Foundation and the Musk Foundation, both of which have a strong interest in promoting renewable and environmentally friendly energy technologies."

X Prize Foundation "...The most high-profile XPRIZE to date was the Ansari XPRIZE relating to spacecraft development awarded in 2004. This prize was intended to inspire research and development into technology for space exploration...."

2 posted on 03/22/2014 2:11:15 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Dipping his toe in the lunar return pond.

Before Mars.... Musk veers toward the Moon ".....The next step beyond that is to maybe send people beyond low Earth orbit to a loop around the Moon, possibly land on the Moon — although I’m not super interested in the Moon personally because obviously we’ve done that and we know we can — but maybe just to prove the capability...."

3 posted on 03/22/2014 2:22:44 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

The source of lithium will come from water.

I know the technology that extracts it from water. But I won’t say more than that now.

But I will say the Chinese will not be pleased. Unless they offer a trillion dollar plus buy out. And I’ve heard they may just do that.

4 posted on 03/22/2014 2:52:42 AM PDT by Hostage (ARTICLE V)
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To: Hostage
Is this it:

5 posted on 03/22/2014 3:44:09 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Cruz/Palin 2016)
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To: Former Proud Canadian; Hostage; All

“.....China is making a play for Latin America a well, and is now the fastest growing investor in the region, according to experts. Although their activity is mostly economic, they are also increasing military activity through educational exchanges.

The Chinese Navy conducted a goodwill visit in Brazil, Chile and Argentina last year and conducted its first-ever naval exercise with the Argentine Navy.......”


“....Vaughan Winterbottom of Australia’s Lowy Institute writes that:

Some have questioned China’s motivations for expanding its presence on the southern continent. ‘The country is rapidly building research stations — a method of assertion on a continent where sovereignty is disputed,’ wrote Nicola Davison on ChinaDialogue in November. In Stars and Stripes, Seth Robson commented last year that ‘China is boosting its presence in Antarctica with an eye on the icy continent’s vast untapped resources.’

For now, mining is prohibited under the Antarctic Treaty, but that will be up for review in 2048 and a number of countries may try to jockey for position before then.

The treaty also forbids new territorial claims by countries on the continent but passes no judgment on previous ones, which has occasionally led to some controversy. Britain and Argentina have overlapping claims and—in the midst of the dispute between the two countries over the Falkland Islands—Argentina objected last year to London’s decision to name a large swathe of Antarctic territory after Queen Elizabeth II.......”

6 posted on 03/22/2014 4:14:01 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Former Proud Canadian

No. Lithium brines are far greater in Canada. But the recovery of Lithium from brines is made under a new technology that is far faster and efficient than gravity based sediment accumulation.

Your link demonstrates what the Chinese are doing around the globe. They are buying up as many mining rights and leases as they can find in order to corner targeted markets. Their goal is to control strategic mineral sources.

Elon Musk is aware of the tech I am hinting at. He wants it and needs it.

7 posted on 03/22/2014 4:14:40 AM PDT by Hostage (ARTICLE V)
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To: Hostage; All
Venezuela believes that they have a claim to Guyana.

Rare earths’ potential "......[Guyana's] local bauxite industry has excavated much more red earth to get at our bauxite than Jamaica and we hope that tests are being conducted to ascertain whether they may also contain rare earth metals in sufficient concentration to justify extraction.

With some 95 per cent of the production of all rare-earth minerals, China remains the dominant player globally. This decisive natural resources advantage has obviously prompted concerns in the U.S., Japan and the EU. A 2011 report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey on “China’s Rare-Earth Industry” outlines the basic facts succinctly. China’s lead in the production of rare-earth minerals has accelerated over the past two decades. In 1990, China accounted for only 27 per cent of such minerals. In 2009, world production was 132,000 metric tonnes; China produced 129,000 of those tonnes.

The Chinese government sets annual quotas, and policy regulating production is tightly controlled: “In 1990, the Chinese government declared rare earths to be a protected and strategic mineral. As a consequence, foreign investors are prohibited from mining rare earths and are restricted from participating in rare-earth smelting and separation projects except in joint ventures with Chinese firms.” Recent patterns suggest that China will slow the export of such materials to the world: “Owing to the increase in domestic demand, the government has gradually reduced the export quota during the past several years.” In 2006, China allowed 47 domestic rare-earth producers and traders and 12 Sino-foreign rare-earth producers to export. Controls have since tightened annually; by 2011, only 22 domestic rare-earth producers and traders and nine Sino-foreign rare-earth producers were authorised....."


China is propping up Venezuela's failing socialist experiment ala USSR-Cuba model.

".......Venezuelan oil sales to the U.S. are approaching 28-year lows as the country turns to China amid a shale boom that’s flooding U.S. refineries. Now a Canada-U.S. pipeline threatens to further curb its Gulf of Mexico access.

Venezuelan exports of crude and petroleum products to the U.S. averaged 792,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2013, which would be the lowest annual rate since 1985, according to data published yesterday on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website.

State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, which oversees the world’s largest oil reserves, is sending hundreds of thousands of barrels a day to China to pay back government loans. At the same time, refiners along the U.S. Gulf Coast are sourcing more domestic supply as a surge in drilling shale rock sends output to the highest in a quarter-century. A proposed pipeline to transport Canadian crude from oil sands in Alberta to U.S. refining centers could further restrict Venezuela’s access to profitable export markets, according to Tissot Associates........." Source

8 posted on 03/22/2014 4:30:16 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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