On this week’s technology radar: Tesla to produce Megapack storage in Shanghai, a new intelligent weather station for renewable generation and how and why taxidermied birds are being turned into drones.
Tesla to produce Megapack storage in Shanghai
Automotive manufacturer Tesla has announced its intention to build a second battery factory in Shanghai – this one a ‘megafactory’ for the production of its Megapacks, which are designed for utility-scale storage projects. The planned output is around 10,000 units per year.
Currently, the Megapack batteries are produced at Tesla’s gigafactory in Nevada, alongside the Powerwall batteries for residential storage and the units for the EVs, although the production is in the process of being moved to a new dedicated megafactory in northern California with a 40GWh annual output.
The Shanghai megafactory is thus Tesla’s second of its type and it will join one of the company’s five and growing in number of gigafactories located around the world as it aims to supply an ever greater share of the storage market.
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Tesla has estimated the need for about 240TWh of energy storage for a sustainable world. In 2022, the company installed 2.5GW of storage, an over 150% increase from the previous year, for a total deployment of 6.5GWh in 2022.
“Demand for our storage products remains in excess of our ability to supply,” states the Q4 FY 2022 investor update.
SunSpector – an intelligent weather station for renewable generation
US renewable energy management specialist Aderis Energy has launched its SunSpector as “an intelligent weather station with advanced data logging, analysis and energy simulation capabilities”.
Alongside a selection of weather sensors, it may be customed for a range of configurations. For example, one is the use of intelligent edge computing for integrated data logging and analytics capabilities.
Another is support for a close-loop servo-controlled plane of array (POA) tracking capability to provide energy loss calculation capabilities when solar tracking rows are inoperable.
A third is the deployment of the SunSpector as part of a whole monitoring control solution or as an advanced resource surveying tool to confirm weather modelling estimates for financial surety.
“With SunSpector, our customers can optimise their renewable energy systems and increase their return on investment,” promises Colton Ward, Head of Business Development at Aderis Energy.
Taxidermied birds as drones
Next-generation drones? Scientists at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology are reported to be taking birds that have been preserved through taxidermy and converting them into drones.
Mostafa Hassanalian, Mechanical Engineering professor, is quoted as saying the only thing they needed to do to make the birds ‘alive’ was to design an attrition mechanism to put in their body.
“So we do reverse engineering. We’ll calculate what has been the weight of the bird while it was alive, what has been its flapping frequency, what flapping angle they have flapped and just create something similar.”
The aim is for the drones to blend in with a flock of living birds to study, following experiments which found for fixed-wing aircraft that applying certain colours can change the flight efficiency, similarly if the colour patterns on birds’ wings affect their potential flight efficiency.
While ultimately a goal is to bring learnings to improve the energy efficiency of the future aviation industry and is far removed from the power sector, one potential relevant application could be to develop flying raptor drones to stop birds landing or nesting on power transmission infrastructure.