Rivian Banking on Solar Energy To Power Its EV Chargers

Rivian Banking on Solar Energy To Power Its EV Chargers

Electric truck and SUV manufacturer Rivian has entered an agreement with solar energy company Clearloop to finance a Tennessee solar facility that will help power its EV chargers in the region. Axios first reported the news Thursday.

The Irvine-based automaker provided upfront financing for one megawatt of renewable electricity at the Paris Solar Farm in Puryear, Tenn., about 100 miles west of Nashville. The solar farm broke ground on Tuesday; once completed, it will produce 6.75 megawatts of energy annually.

Rivian’s one megawatt investment will power its Rivian Waypoint chargers located in Tennessee state parks, among "other clean energy commitments in the region," it said in a press release. Power production startup Silicon Ranch, which acquired Clearloop last year, will build the solar farm. Tennessee utility Paris BPU, a partner in the Puryear solar farm, will oversee operations.

The partnership comes as Rivian has struggled to meet production targets, while CEO RJ Scaringe recently predicted a major electric vehicle battery shortage in the coming years. Rivian is also facing pushback on recent expansion plans after its $5 billion factory in Georgia was approved despite backlash from local communities. In recent months, the company has faced shareholder lawsuits over price increases to its vehicles and seen its stock tumble in the wake of its initial public offering last November.

Rivian joins a growing number of Southern California-based startups investing in solar power. Long Beach-based rocket maker Rocket Lab acquired New Mexico-based solar panel company SolAero last year, while Santa Monica-based B2U Storage Solutions plans to transform depleted electric vehicle batteries into solar power storage. In January, San Diego-based electric vehicle charging startup ChargeNet raised funds to bring solar-powered EV charging stations to fast-food parking lots.

Yet curbing enthusiasm about the alternative energy source is the Biden administration’s investigation into whether China circumvented tariffs on solar equipment imports to the U.S.—a probe that could hinder the domestic solar industry's ability to build projects.

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Meet the Bird ‘Fleet Managers’ Who Hunt and Release E-Scooters in Downtown Los Angeles
Photo by Maylin Tu

It’s Friday night in Downtown Los Angeles and fleet manager Adan Aceves is cruising the streets in his Ford Ranger pickup truck looking for a bird — not an e-scooter, but an actual bird.

“First time I saw the bird I was wondering what the hell is it doing in Downtown?,” said Aceves. “It doesn't seem like a city bird, like a pigeon or a seagull…The second time I realized, ‘Damn, I only find this fool in Skid Row.’”

We never come across the mysterious bird who acts like a human. Instead, we drive the streets of Downtown, dropping off and picking up scooters — a different type of Bird — under the bright lights and amid throngs of people, many of them dressed to the nines and out on the town, looking for a good time.

By day, Aceves, 41, works in his family’s business repairing power tools in South Central. By night, he deploys, charges and rebalances e-scooters for Bird, one of eleven fleet managers located Downtown. The zone that he covers includes Dignity Health on Grand Avenue (once called California Hospital) where he was born.

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Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Sunset over LA
Courtesy of Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

Yesterday afternoon millions Californians around the state received an emergency alert straight to their mobile phones asking them to conserve power as the electric grid teetered on edge of collapse. The move came as the state battles on through an historic heatwave that has laid bare the shortcoming of its infrastructure in the face of a new and hotter climate.

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David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.