Tesla is currently stuck in “production hell” with Model 3 delays, as Elon Musk describes it.
But Winston Churchill had a great quote about facing what seems like insurmountable adversity: “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. This is certainly a maxim that Musk and Tesla will need to live by in order to realize the company’s longstanding mission, which is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Rise of Tesla: The Future Vision (Part 3 of 3)
Today’s giant infographic comes to us from Global Energy Metals, and it is the final part of our three-part Rise of Tesla Series, which is a definitive source for everything you ever wanted to know about the company.
Part 3 shows Elon Musk’s future vision, and what it holds for the company once it can get past current production issues.
To understand Tesla’s ambitions for the future, you need to know two things:
1. Tesla’s Mission Statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla can accomplish this by making electric vehicles, batteries, and energy solutions – and by finding ways seamlessly integrate them all together.
2. Tesla’s Strategy: “The competitive strength of Tesla long-term is not going to be the car, it’s going to be the factory.”
Tesla aims to productize the factory, so that vehicle assembly can be automated at a revolutionary pace.
In other words, Tesla wants to perfect the making of the “machine that builds the machine”. It wants to use these factories to pump out EVs at a pace never before seen. It aims to change the world.
The Future of Tesla
If Elon Musk has his way and everything goes according to plan, this is how the future of Tesla will unfold.
Note: Keep in mind that Tesla sometimes overpromises – and that the following is an extrapolation of Tesla’s vision and announced plans as of Spring 2018.
A Sustainable Energy Powerhouse
Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy – but simply making a few electric cars is not going to be enough to put a dent into this.
That’s why the future of Tesla will be defined by bigger and bolder moves:
The Tesla Semi: Tesla has unveiled the Tesla Semi, which can go 0-60 mph with 80,000 lbs (36 tonnes) in just 20 seconds. Fully electric, and with a 200 kWh battery pack, Musk says that it would be “economic suicide” for trucking companies to continue driving diesel trucks.
Mass Transit: Elon Musk said in his Master Plan, Part Deux blog post that he wants to design “high passenger-density urban transport”. It’s anticipated that this will come in the form of an autonomous minibus, built off the Model X concept.
A New Energy Paradigm: Tesla is not just building cars – it’s democratizing green energy by creating a self-dependent ecosystem of products. This way, homeowners can ensure their appliances and cars are running off of green energy, and even sell it back to the grid if they like.
As Tesla works on this sustainable future, the company isn’t afraid to show off its battery tech in the interim. The company even built the world’s largest lithium-ion battery farm (100 MW) in South Australia to win a bet, in fewer than 100 days.
Other New Models
Elon Musk says that Tesla plans to “address all major segments” of the auto market.
Model Y: This will be a crossover vehicle built on the Model 3 platform, expected to go into production in 2019. It will round out the “S3XY” product line of Tesla’s first four post-Roadster vehicles.
Pickup Truck: This will be Tesla’s priority after the Model Y, and Musk says he is “dying to build it”. Musk says it’ll be the same size of a Ford F-150 (or bigger) to account for a “game-changing” feature he wants to add, but has not yet revealed.
Ultra Low-Cost Model: Tesla has also announced that it will need a model cheaper than the Model 3 in the near future. This would allow Tesla to compete against a much wider segment of the auto market, and the future of Tesla hinges on its success.
Tesla already has two: Gigafactory I in Reno, NV (Batteries), and Gigafactory II in Buffalo, NY (Solar panels).
The Gigafactory I started battery cell production in 2017. It will eventually produce enough batteries to power 500,000 cars per year. Meanwhile, the second factory is operated by Tesla’s SolarCity subsidiary, producing photovoltaic modules for solar panels, and solar shingles for Tesla’s solar roof product.
Tesla said in 2017 that there will be “probably four” more battery Gigafactories in locations that would “address a global market”, including one in Europe. This makes sense, since the need for lithium-ion batteries to power these EVs is exploding. An important component of Tesla’s future will also be source the raw materials needed for these Gigafactories, such as cobalt, lithium, graphite, and nickel.
The Chinese Market
The good news: Tesla already owns about 81% of the market for imported plug-in EVs in China.
The bad news: That’s only about 2.5% of the total Chinese EV market, when accounting for domestically made EVs.
China is the largest auto market in the world – and make no mistake about it, Tesla wants to own a large chunk of it. In 2017, China accounted for 24.7 million passenger vehicle sales, amounting to 31% of the global auto market.
Automation and the Sharing Economy
Finally, Tesla wants its vehicles to be fully autonomous, and to have shared fleets that drive around to transport people.
Autonomous: Tesla aims to develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
Shared: Most cars are only used by their owner for only 5% of each day. With self-driving cars, a car can reach its true potential utility by being shared between multiple users.
The future of Tesla is ambitious, and the company’s strategy is even considered naïve by some.
But if Elon Musk and Tesla are able to perfect the building of the “machine that builds the machine”, all bets will be off.
That concludes our three-part Rise of Tesla Series – don’t forget to see Part 1 (Origin Story) and Part 2 (Rapid Growth). We’d also like to offer a special thanks to Global Energy Metals for making this series possible, as well.
Visualizing China’s Energy Transition in 5 Charts
This infographic takes a look at what China’s energy transition plans are to make its energy mix carbon neutral by 2060.
Visualizing China’s Energy Transition in 5 Charts
In September 2020, China’s President Xi Jinping announced the steps his nation would take to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 via videolink before the United Nations Assembly in New York.
This infographic takes a look at what this ambitious plan for China’s energy would look like and what efforts are underway towards this goal.
China’s Ambitious Plan
A carbon-neutral China requires changing the entire economy over the next 40 years, a change the IEA compares to the ambition of the reforms that industrialized the country’s economy in the first place.
China is the world’s largest consumer of electricity, well ahead of the second place consumer, the United States. Currently, 80% of China’s energy comes from fossil fuels, but this plan envisions only 14% coming from coal, oil, and natural gas in 2060.
|Energy Source||2025||2060||% Change|
Source: Tsinghua University Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy; U.S. EIA
According to the Carbon Brief, China’s 14th five-year plan appears to enshrine Xi’s goal. This plan outlines a general and non specific list of projects for a new energy system. It includes the construction of eight large-scale clean energy centers, coastal nuclear power, electricity transmission routes, power system flexibility, oil-and-gas transportation, and storage capacity.
Progress Towards Renewables?
While the goal seems far off in the future, China is on a trajectory towards reducing the carbon emissions of its electricity grid with declining coal usage, increased nuclear, and increased solar power capacity.
According to ChinaPower, coal fueled the rise of China with the country using 144 million tonnes of oil equivalent “Mtoe” in 1965, peaking at 1,969 Mtoe in 2013. However, its share as part of the country’s total energy mix has been declining since the 1990s from ~77% to just under ~60%.
Another trend in China’s energy transition will be the greater consumption of energy as electricity. As China urbanized, its cities expanded creating greater demand for electricity in homes, businesses, and everyday life. This trend is set to continue and approach 40% of total energy consumed by 2030 up from ~5% in 1990.
Under the new plan, by 2060, China is set to have 42% of its energy coming from solar and nuclear while in 2025 it is only expected to be 6%. China has been adding nuclear and solar capacity and expects to add the equivalent of 20 new reactors by 2025 and enough solar power for 33 million homes (110GW).
Changing the energy mix away from fossil fuels, while ushering in a new economic model is no small task.
Up to the Task?
China is the world’s factory and has relatively young industrial infrastructure with fleets of coal plants, steel mills, and cement factories with plenty of life left.
However, China also is the biggest investor in low-carbon energy sources, has access to massive technological talent, and holds a strong central government to guide the transition.
The direction China takes will have the greatest impact on the health of the planet and provide guidance for other countries looking to change their energy mixes, for better or for worse.
The world is watching…even if it’s by videolink.
Visualizing the Flow of U.S. Energy Consumption
From renewables to fossil fuels, we’ve visualized the diverse mix of energy sources that powered U.S. energy consumption in 2020.
Breaking Down America’s Energy Consumption in 2020
The United States relies on a complex mix of energy sources to fuel the country’s various end-sectors’ energy consumption.
While this energy mix is still dominated by fossil fuels, there are signs of a steady shift to renewable energy over the past decade.
This radial Sankey diagram using data from the EIA (Energy Information Administration) breaks down U.S. energy consumption in 2020, showing us how much each sector relies on various energy sources.
The Balance of Energy Production and Consumption
In 2019 and now in 2020, America’s domestic energy production has actually been greater than its consumption—a development that hasn’t taken place since 1957.
Last year’s numbers were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing a 5% drop in energy production and a 7% drop in consumption compared to 2019. Total energy production and consumption for 2020 came in at 95.75 and 92.94 quads respectively.
The energy amounts are equalized and measured in quadrillion BTUs (British thermal units), also known as quads. A quad is a huge amount of energy, equivalent to 183 million barrels of petroleum or 36 million tonnes of coal.
So how is America’s overall energy production and consumption split between energy sources?
U.S. Energy Production and Consumption Share by Source
|Energy Source||Percentage of U.S. Energy Production||Percentage of U.S. Energy Consumption|
America’s new margin of energy production over consumption has resulted in the country being a net total energy exporter again, providing some flexibility as the country continues its transition towards more sustainable and renewable energy sources.
Fossil Fuels Still Dominate U.S. Energy Consumption
While America’s mix of energy consumption is fairly diverse, 79% of domestic energy consumption still originates from fossil fuels. Petroleum powers over 90% of the transportation sector’s consumption, and natural gas and petroleum make up 74% of the industrial sector’s direct energy consumption.
There are signs of change as consumption of the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal, has declined more than 58% since its peak in 2005. Coinciding with this declining coal dependence, consumption from renewable energy has increased for six years straight, setting record highs again in 2020.
However, fossil fuels still make up 79% of U.S. energy consumption, with renewables and nuclear accounting for the remaining 21%. The table below looks at the share of specific renewable energy sources in 2020.
Distribution of Renewable Energy Sources
|Renewable Energy Source||2020 Energy Consumption in Quads||Share of 2020 Renewable Energy Consumption|
The Nuclear Necessity for a Zero-Emission Energy Transition
It’s not all up to renewable energy sources to clean up America’s energy mix, as nuclear power will play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions. Technically not a renewable energy source due to uranium’s finite nature, nuclear energy is still a zero-emission energy that has provided around 20% of total annual U.S. electricity since 1990.
Support for nuclear power has been growing slowly, and last year was the first which saw nuclear electricity generation overtake coal. However, this might not last as three nuclear plants including New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant are set to be decommissioned in 2021, with a fourth plant scheduled for retirement in 2022.
It’s worth noting that while other countries might have a higher share of nuclear energy in their total electricity generation, the U.S. still has the largest nuclear generation capacity worldwide and has generated more nuclear electricity than any other country in the world.
Converting Energy to Electricity
The energy produced by nuclear power plants doesn’t go directly to its end-use sector, rather, 100% of nuclear energy in the U.S. is converted to electricity which is sold to consumers. Along with nuclear, most energy sources aside from petroleum are primarily converted to electricity.
Unfortunately, electricity conversion is a fairly inefficient process, with around 65% of the energy lost in the conversion, transmission, and distribution of electricity.
This necessary but wasteful step allows for the storage of energy in electrical form, ensuring that it can be distributed properly. Working towards more efficient methods of energy to electricity conversion is an often forgotten aspect of reducing wasted energy.
Despite the dip in 2020, both energy production and consumption in the U.S. are forecasted to continue rising. As Biden aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (from 2005 emission levels), U.S. energy consumption will inevitably continue to shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and nuclear energy.
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