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Thu Sep 29 22:27:05 SAST 2016

Cape jumps in as Tesla aims to switch on SA

Nashira Davids | 06 January, 2016 00:40
"Evan phoned me to say was leaving GreenCape. When he told me where he was going I said it was definitely good news,'' said Winde. File photo
Image by: Supplied

A Tesla "gigafactory" might be set up in the Western Cape with a local man in charge of South African business development for the Elon Musk company.

The factory would manufacture Tesla Powerwall batteries, which can store sufficient electricity to power an entire home. They are charged by solar panels.

South African-born Musk is building a $5-billion gigafactory in the Nevada desert, in the US, to produce Powerwalls. It will be one of the world's biggest buildings.

Musk said in May that factories would be needed around the world.

He said the Powerwall was a "great solution for people in remote parts of the world where there's no electricity" or where the supply is intermittent or expensive.

Evan Rice, the former CEO of GreenCape, has been appointed Tesla's business development manager in this country.

When Western Cape MEC for economic opportunities Alan Winde heard about the possibility that Tesla would establish a factory in the province, his department and GreenCape jumped into action.

"I said we needed to get involved, and that is when people at GreenCape started phoning Tesla in the US.

"They had some teleconferences and then a delegation went to see them," said Winde.

It was probably during the face-to-face discussions, said Winde, that Rice was poached by Tesla executives.

"Evan phoned me to say was leaving GreenCape. When he told me where he was going I said it was definitely good news,'' said Winde.

"We very much want to have a gigafactory here. If we get that right, it will make nuclear power generation obsolete."

Musk said 900million Powerwalls would make all the world's electricity primarily solar.

Musk, schooled at Pretoria Boys' High, is the co-founder of PayPal and the founder of aerospace engineering company SpaceX.

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