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Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors to set up office in South Africa

Major US automotive and energy storage company Tesla Motors plans to set up shop in South Africa, the birthplace of its CEO Elon Musk.

According to a report by Htxt, Tesla will open an office early next year to bring industrial-scale energy storage solutions to the country.

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This would be a welcome addition to South Africa’s unreliable energy grid, which is prone to load shedding.

Read more: Is Elon Musk’s Tesla Energy just what Africa’s energy grid needs?

The office will be run by Evan Rice, who’s the CEO of not-for-profit GreenCape. “Tesla will have one employee here from mid-January. But if we can find some solid business cases and get them going we will be expanding,” said Rice.

Established in 2010 by the Western Cape Government, GreenCape is described as a Special Purpose Vehicle to support the development of the green economy in the region.

Serial entrepreneur Musk introduced the Tesla Powerwall in May this year — the battery pack that’s said to be one of the most crucial building blocks to deliver sustainable energy around the world.

In his keynote, Musk explained:

You can take the Tesla Powerwall and it can scale globally. In fact, what we’ll see is something very similar to what happened with cellphones versus landlines where cellphones actually leapfrogged landline and there wan’t a need to put landlines in a lot of countries or in remote locations. I think it’s going to be incredibly helpful to people who don’t have electricity today.

While the Powerwall is already available in South Africa, Rice tells Htxt that his role would be to expand the market for Tesla’s utility-scale batteries, called the Powerpack. Meant for commercial use, the Powerpack is much bigger than the Powerwall with 100 kWh of storage and is “infinitely scalable”.

Read more: Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall kit will cost R225k in South Africa

“At the moment we’re seeing the majority of solar going into shopping malls or retail parks,” Rice told Htxt.

“Where all the energy produced can be used on site… If you could sell some back to the grid it would make [investing in storage] a much more attractive business case and help to leverage private capital.”

Updates to follow.

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