The Gigafactory is big because the world is big, said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during his address at the grand opening ceremonies. It’s easy to forget that Musk is more than an electric car and solar energy pioneer. Underlying everything he does is a burning desire to help the world build a path toward a future free of fossil fuels.
US Senators may bring snowballs onto the Senate floor to prove that global warming is a hoax, but Musk is having none of it. He is determined to “move the needle” on global carbon emissions by building as many electric vehicles as possible, and as soon as possible.
That’s what makes the Gigafactory necessary. “We had no option,” JB Straubel told the crowd over the weekend in Nevada. If the Gigafactory didn’t get built, Tesla’s goal to build 500,000 cars a year would consume the world’s entire output of lithium ion batteries, including those for cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. The only way to have enough batteries available to meet its goals was for Tesla to build them itself.
“[Gigafactory] has to be big because the world is big.”
“It’s about making enough electric cars, enough stationary battery packs that it actually moves the needle from a global carbon production perspective—that it actually does really change the world,” Musk told an enthusiastic audience. “It has to be big because the world is big.”
Musk told his guests the original plan for the Gigafactory was to produce 50 GWh worth of batteries a year — 35 GWh hours for vehicle batteries and 15 GWh for electrical storage batteries. But in typical Musk fashion, he decided to push the envelope. Now, the target is for 150 GWh of batteries a year when the Gigafactory reaches full production.
To make that happen, Musk says Tesla’s best engineers are working on designing the factory to maximize its capacity. He showed the audience a snippet of the mechanical drawings for the facility, saying every square foot of space inside its walls has been saved in CAD format. Every pipe, every wire, and every work station has been carefully designed to be as efficient as possible. Even though the building is huge, not a square inch of space has been wasted.
If the goal is to make a noticeable impact on global emissions, huge is just barely big enough.
Watch the entire presentation given by Elon Musk and JB Straubel from the Tesla Gigafactory Grand Opening event below.