Drive on Sunshine: Tesla to Introduce Clean Energy Charging

By Kevin Armstrong
Rendering of what Tesla's new 'Drive on Sunshine' feature may look like
Rendering of what Tesla's new 'Drive on Sunshine' feature may look like
Not a Tesla App

Tesla is getting ready to introduce a new feature that allows owners to charge their cars using surplus solar energy. If your home is generating more energy than it's using, this excess energy can be directed automatically to your car.

For owners of solar panels, there have been limited options when your panels are generating more energy than you're using. The system tops off your Powerwalls if you have them, but once those are full, the system sends any excess energy back to the grid.

However, if you have a Tesla, you'll soon be able to automatically start charging your vehicle whenever excess energy is being generated. This is according to new text-based information found in the latest Tesla app, according to Twitter user Tesla App iOS. Tesla is calling this new feature "Drive on Sunshine," which focuses on providing the cleanest charge possible for Tesla vehicles.

Tesla has already started updating their app with some details regarding this new feature. The feature will instruct users to plug in at home during daytime hours, to take advantage of the surplus clean energy their solar system produces.

How It Will Work

The Tesla app allows you to set a charging limit for your vehicle. However, once this new feature is enabled, you'll gain access to two charging sliders. The first slider will control how much your vehicle is charged, regardless of where the energy is coming from. You'll be guaranteed to have this amount of charge every night. However, you'll have access to a new slider that lets you set the maximum charge level, but only using your solar system's clean energy.

This will allow you to set your charging limit to a minimum amount every day, such as 60%. You could then set your solar limit to something much higher, such as 90%. This will allow your vehicle will charge up to this limit when your solar system is producing excess energy.

By setting charge limits and specifying the desired charging times and locations, Tesla owners can ensure that their vehicles are being fully charged before excess energy is sent to the grid.

Apple Inspired?

Last September, we pondered if Tesla could develop something similar to Apple's Clean Energy Charging. Apple optimized iPhone charging times by prioritizing clean energy sources from the grid. This approach aligns with Tesla's mission to create zero-emission vehicles that can charge using clean, renewable energy.

The app also lets users charge their vehicle's battery using available energy sources for regular daily driving needs while reserving a portion of the battery to be charged exclusively when surplus solar energy is available.

Explains Recent Powerwall Announcement

This new functionality enables Tesla owners to charge their cars using renewable solar energy, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels throughout the charging and driving experience.

Tesla's goal is to make EV ownership as sustainable as possible by minimizing the use of fossil fuels and promoting clean charging options. When a household generates more solar energy than it can consume, this excess power can be directed toward charging the vehicle. Tesla again began offering the Powerwall as a standalone product, allowing customers to purchase the battery storage system without requiring a solar array.

The Drive on Sunshine feature is a major step forward in Tesla's mission to make electric vehicle ownership as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. With this update, Tesla continues demonstrating its commitment to creating a cleaner, greener future for all.

Impact Report: Tesla Vehicles 8x Less Likely to Catch Fire, Batteries Degrade 15% After 200k Miles

By Karan Singh

Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by producing products far superior to fossil fuel alternatives and sourcing and manufacturing them sustainably. Tesla released its 2023 Impact Report yesterday, discussing their ongoing impact on the environment and the improvements seen.

Displacing Fossil Fuels

In 2023 alone, Tesla’s impact on the environment through its vehicles, Powerwall, and Solar Roof has been massively impactful – Tesla customers avoided releasing the equivalent of 20 million metric tons of CO2e into the environment. That is the equivalent of 51 billion miles of driving an average internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

Each Tesla vehicle that is on the road avoids an average of 51 tons of CO2e emission into the environment. After just 3 years of driving, a Tesla’s lifetime emissions are lower than those of a comparable ICE vehicle. After the average lifespan of a vehicle in North America – 17 years – a single Tesla will have exceeded that value 5.5 times over.

Integrated Ecosystems

Tesla offers comprehensive ecosystems of products to address clean energy and transportation needs, from Megapack, Solar Roof, and Powerwall, to the Model S, 3, X, Y, and Cybertruck.

Tesla Solar produces power for storage in Megapacks or Powerwalls, which charge electric vehicles. Tesla also produces some of their own batteries, for both its storage applications and vehicles, enabling a complete cycle.

On the software side, products like Autobidder, Full Self-Driving, and the upcoming Robotaxi work to maximize the productivity of electricity that is stored in vehicles, helping to further displace fossil fuels in a single ecosystem of well-designed products.

Tesla's ecosystem depicted.
Tesla's ecosystem depicted.

World’s Best EVs

Tesla’s Model Y is still the best-selling vehicle in 2023, a trend likely to continue in 2024. And it’s not for little reason. It is the world’s most efficient EV, capable of running Autopilot/FSD, and is considered one of the best safety picks in both North America and Europe. Tesla’s data has also proven that they are, on average, 7.63 times safer than a traditional vehicle when running Autopilot.

Additionally, the Model Y is priced $3,000 USD below the average new vehicle in the US before the Federal EV Tax Credit – a difference of $17,000 after factoring in the credit and gas savings over 5 years.

Battery Degradation

Model 3/Y battery degradation over time
Model 3/Y battery degradation over time

Battery degradation is often brought up as a concern for EVs and the environment. Batteries fade away, become useless, and cannot be recycled. According to Tesla’s data and experience, this is far from the truth.

In fact, Tesla has found that their batteries degrade about 15% after 200,000 miles – the equivalent of the average lifetime of a vehicle. And in fact, they do even better in the cold than they do in the heat, with better degradation performance in Canada over the US.

Another interesting fact is that Tesla vehicles in particular – are 8 times less likely to be victim to a vehicle fire, compared against the US average.

Sustainable Sourcing

Sustainably sourcing materials is essential to reach Tesla’s vision of a world with reduced environmental impacts. In 2023, Tesla recovered enough battery materials to produce 43,000 Model Y RWD vehicles, while also sourcing Gigafactory Berlin with 100% renewable energy.

Overall, Tesla solar owners generated enough energy to power all Tesla locations, including all the Mega and Giga Factories, and all other facilities – over 3 times.

Tesla has also reduced water use by 25% over the last 5 years for vehicle production, marking a new milestone low – at 2.48 cubic meters of water, versus 3.37 cubic meters of water for an average ICE vehicle.

Tesla Breaks Ground on New Megafactory in Shanghai

By Karan Singh

Tesla broke ground on a new Megafactory in Shanghai’s Lingang free trade zone pilot program. This factory will be Tesla’s first foray into battery production outside of the United States, mirroring its direction in Lathrop, California.

Batteries, Not Cars

Megafactory Shanghai won’t be producing cars but rather will be producing Megapacks, which are grid-scale battery solutions that can power entire electricity grids.

Each massive Megapack battery unit, about the size of a shipping container, can deliver about 1.2 megawatts of power capacity, with 3.9 megawatt-hours of electricity. A single Megapack unit can power approximately 3,600 homes for an hour.

The Megafactory is scheduled to begin production in early 2025, with production goals of 10,000 Megapack units per year.

Sustainable Energy and Megapack

One of Tesla's Megapacks
One of Tesla's Megapacks

Tesla’s mission is more than just producing self-driving cars – it’s to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As part of this mission, Megapack and grid-scale energy solutions are key to offset energy costs and carbon emissions when wind, solar, or hydro are at reduced capacities.

Megapack helps to maximize renewable energy use, minimize carbon use, and allow base-load capacities like nuclear power to maintain their output. Similar energy-storage solutions like pumped storage hydropower are expensive, require specific terrain features, and can take years to construct. Megapack units ship assembled, allowing for rapid installation with minimal complexity.

Lathrop vs Shanghai

Tesla’s fairly new facility in Lathrop, California is a mirror of the new facility being built in Shanghai. However, just like the differences between Fremont, Giga Texas, and Giga Shanghai, Mega Shanghai will likely incorporate new technologies to improve productivity. Additionally, it serves as a way to serve the energy market in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been at the forefront of energy development in the last decade.

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