Tesla chairman Elon Musk last week revealed plans to build a $5 billion battery factory in the southwest United States.  Scheduled to open in 2017, the plant should be capable of making batteries for 500,000 cars a year by 2020.  The Albuquerque Journal reported that the Giga factory will be able to make up to 30 gigawatt-hours of storage capacity annually.

Potential partners in the venture are said to be Panasonic (which currently makes batteries for Tesla) and Samsung. The scale of the project suggests that Tesla expects to drive the price of lithium-ion battery packs down at least 30 percent.

In addition to serving the EV market, Tesla’s investor newsletter said the factory will build units for grid storage. SolarCity has recently begun selling Tesla batteries into the residential market. Tesla appears to be laying the groundwork for mass defection of customers from the utility grid.

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