Sorting out storage: Tesla has been cleared to move ahead with plans to build the world's largest energy storage facility in California, some 10 times the size of its Australia facility | Photo: ArnNet

Tesla to build world’s largest battery storage plant in California

Tesla has been approved to build the world’s largest li-ion battery-based energy storage facility in Moss Landing, California. At 1.2GWh, it’ll be nearly 10 times larger than the one Tesla built at Hornsdale, South Australia. The system will supply stored reserves of solar and wind power and will replace the county’s natural gas-powered plant, whose output has gradually fallen to a tenth of its designed capacity. 

The plant is also expected to boost tax revenue for the county, and yet again proves the case for using renewables and storage in tandem to meet peak power demands. 

India’s Supreme Court summons Union minister for clear answers on EV policy 

India’s Supreme Court has, for the first time, summoned a Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari to explain the government’s position on its EV policy. The unprecedented move is likely influenced by the government’s numerous revisions to India’s e-mobility targets and its lacklustre progress on acquiring EVs, even though state administrations seem to have taken far more progressive steps. 

Gadkari has been asked to present clear answers on: if all new government vehicles should be electric, if all buildings/public infrastructure should have EV charging points, if all public transport should be ‘electrified’, and if petrol and diesel should be slapped with additional levies to cross-subsidise EVs across the country. The minister has, however, previously stated that because of the number of jobs supported by the conventional automotive sector, a ban on ICE vehicles was not advisable, and the government would not set a target date for their full phase-out. The sharp slowdown in India’s auto sector could also be a factor holding the Centre back. 

China employs electric VTOL aircraft to arm hospitals against coronavirus 

The local government in Hezhou, Guangxi province, China, has been transporting medicines to local hospitals, as they fight the coronavirus pandemic, with the fully-electric eHang vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The helicopter-like eHang can access landing spots that are too tight for a helicopter, can carry a payload of up to 140kg and can travel to as far as 31km on a single charge. The aircraft comes equipped with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), visual sensors and accelerometers, and may also be used to ferry up to two passengers without an on-board pilot. 

Stinky Durian fruit emerges as testbed for superfast battery rechargers

Researchers from the University of Sydney are testing the stinky, fleshy Durian fruit — native to south Asian countries — as a natural supercapacitor, which could be used to rapidly charge li-ion batteries. The fruit’s fleshy, porous mass has high surface area, interfacial active sites and in-plane conductivity, which together could facilitate fast electrochemical reactions by storing and transferring static electricity. 

If perfected, the novel technology could also be a cost-effective and biodegradable alternative to current market technologies.

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