NEWS WRAP-UP: Biofuels, smart grid, solar – and Tesla

Posted by Lexie Briggs on Apr 5, 2013 10:06:00 AM

shining globeThis week several advanced energy companies across many technologies had major announcements. Biofuels company Sapphire Energy announced a deal with Tesoro Refining and Manufacturing. Tesoro is planning to purchase Sapphire’s Green Crude, a drop-in biofuel made from wet algae manufactured at the company’s Columbus, New Mexico, plant. The plant, which recently reached a milestone of continuous cultivation and crude oil production, is featured in an AEE Case Study

This week also saw California-based Silver Spring Networks’ announcement of a smart grid partnership with the nation’s largest municipal utility, CPS Energy. CPS Energy serves 740,000 customers in San Antonio and is expecting to deploy advanced metering and distribution automation in the coming year.

Another California-based company, SolarCity, announced its plans to expand into Nevada this week, thanks to some $1.2 million in incentives from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The company is also planning to build more than 100 solar projects in the state in partnership with Shea Homes.

Perhaps the biggest news, however, once again lies with Tesla Motors. Tesla announced over the weekend that its first quarter sales are exceeding expectations and that it expected to turn a profit for the first time in company history. “There have been many car startups over the past several decades, but profitability is what makes a company real,” co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a late Sunday statement. “Tesla is here to stay and keep fighting for the electric car revolution.”

Even while celebrating his company’s profitability, Musk tweeted that the company’s announcement on Tuesday would be “arguably more important.” That news was the result of a partnership between Tesla, Wells Fargo, and US Bank to develop a new financing structure for the Tesla Model S. Tesla describes the financing structure as combining “the surety and comfort of ownership with all the advantages of a traditional lease.” The banks would provide most or all of the down payment, which come from state and federal incentives.  Monthly lease payments would be just above $1,000 per month, but when savings from fueling with electricity instead of gasoline and other advantages are figured in, the “true net out of pocket cost” for owning a Model S could be less than $500 per month, according to Tech Crunch. After 36 months, the lessor could sell the Model S back to Tesla, or keep paying monthly for two more years. Tesla is guaranteeing a resale value of the same residual value percentage as the Mercedes S Class – a guarantee Musk says he is standing by “personally.”

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Topics: News Update