Tesla Going Off the Grid, Plans to Power Superchargers Using Solar

More infrastructure upgrades announced to solidify Tesla's footing in the marketplace.

Telsa Motors Opens New "Supercharger" Station In Fremont, California
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Tesla has been gunning towards renewable energy for quite some time. Not only do they produce their own line of solar shingles for your home's roof, but they also manufacturer the Powerwall, an electricity storage system for renewable energy. These two items may have been a byproduct of a grand scheme to power all Tesla Level 3 Superchargers using solar energy.

CEO Elon Musk first confirmed that their Supercharger "Version 3" stations were being solar powered in a Tweet last December. It was planned to use three joint ventures—Tesla's Supercharger, Tesla's Powerpack, and SolarCity's solar panels—to complete the rollout of the brand new, fully renewable charging stations.

Recently, Tesla has changed the way that Model S owners receive free Supercharging. The owner of the car is provided it for the life of the vehicle, then is allowed five credits to new drivers. This is not something that was launched with the Model 3, as owners will be required to pay a small fee while charging, either by time spent at the charger, or total charge made to the vehicle, depending on their state's requirements.

As the EV charging infrastructure is continually being improved in the United States, it becomes apparent manufacturers must do something to recoup their costs in order to stay profitable. Whether this is by baking the cost of lifetime charging into the vehicle, or by implementing a fee-based charging model, this will ultimately end up in a price that the consumer will pay. By moving from the grid to a more efficient solar-based charging system, it becomes potentially cheaper to provide charging to the customer and can cut down on the overall cost of supplying electricity.

Earlier this morning, Musk confirmed on Twitter that Tesla plans to disconnect most Superchargers will be completely off the grid, while all stations will be, at minimum, grid tie-in, meaning that they will have both solar panels and a Tesla Powerpack, plus be connected to the commercial electricity grid. Likely, the latter option would be for regions where it isn't always sunny or cannot provide optimal solar coverage.

As the market for fossil-fuel driven vehicles is declining, Tesla is becoming more valuable to the auto market. Gas powered cars aren't going anywhere soon, but a shift to electric is happening, and Tesla is staying ahead of the curve by futureproofing their stake in the industry.