After quite a bit of struggle with some of the other states, Nevada was chosen by Tesla as the state which will house their battery factory. While Tesla also considered opening their factory in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona or California, Nevada officials managed to broker a deal which Tesla’s management found favorable, and a deal was made.

There are a number of reasons why the eco-friendly company decided to make Nevada home to their revolutionary factory. First of all, the land in the state is quite inexpensive, especially when compared to the other states that were being considered and there’s plenty of water in the area where the factory is meant to be built, but the two most important reasons are probably the fact that the state’s government tries to stay out of the way as much as possible, allowing businesses of various profiles to operate as efficiently as possible without any unnecessary hindrances, and the state’s great potential when it comes to the production of clean power. Of course, $400 million in tax incentives might have helped them make up their mind as well.

Naturally, there is plenty at stake for Nevada as well. Apart from bringing 6,500 jobs to the residents of the region, Tesla’s (and Panasonic’s) factory is also coming with a program for investing into the education in the region. If that wasn’t enough of a boon, there is one more thing to consider, and that is that this factory is projected to work only on clean energy, produced in the factory itself, or, if necessary, imported from other clean energy providers.

One of the things that recommended Nevada was the fact that building such a huge and demanding facility and expecting it to be able to supply itself with clean energy is not completely inconceivable in this state. The factory is expected to cost somewhere around $5 billion, cover 10 million square feet and be run solely on clean energy. The problem is, of course, how do you produce the amount of energy needed to run all the machinery that the factory of that type and size would hold?

Well, it might be more difficult than people in Tesla are hoping. While Nevada does offer plenty of wind and solar power potential, it is questionable whether these two sources, combined with base-load clean power supply – in this case geothermal – will be sufficient. While geothermal sources are relatively steady and provide a more or less consistent power source, wind and solar energy are not as readily available at all times, which means that this battery factory will have to be using batteries of their own if they want to accumulate the energy from the sun and the air for use when the resources are not directly available.

Seeing how some project that the factory’s peak electricity consumption might go well over 100 MW, it is difficult to imagine the size of the wind and solar farms that would manage to provide that kind of energy output, which is why there is already speculation that the factory will have to buy their clean energy. This could only be averted by adequate exploitation of the geothermal resources that the area offers, however, this would present them with a significantly higher initial costs. Establishing a geothermal well can be a very pricey endeavor, especially since some of the times you are not sure where to drill and whether a well will be capable of providing any energy at all, however, this approach is prudent as a long term investment, as wells are a very cheap source of power once established.

The factory is scheduled to start the production in 2017, and by 2020 provide batteries for 500,000 vehicles. The only thing that remains is to hope that they remain persistent in their dedication to clean energy, and that this factory will only pave the way for similar, eco-conscious endeavors.

Posted by Howard Bell

Howard has been writing about technology for quite some time now, especially if you count his diary entries where he laments the pressing programming issues hiding behind the painfully obvious lack of the long blocks in Tetris (also known as the ‘stupid game is cheating’ bug). He has since refined his approach, trying to take a slightly more impartial and a bit more informative voice, but still finds inspiration in the ways that different devices can annoy him to wit’s end.