Tesla’s massive batteries are powering everything from exotic islands to breweries (TSLA)

elon musk solar roof

As Tesla prepares for its long-awaited Model 3 launch, the company is also investing more in its renewable-energy division.

Tesla has had an energy division committed to selling its at-home battery, the Powerwall, and commercial battery pack, the Powerpack since 2015. But after acquiring SolarCity in a deal worth $2.1 billion in November, Tesla has doubled down on its renewable energy efforts.

The company released upgraded versions of both the Powerwall and Powerpack and also unveiled its solar roof product. Tesla is on track to begin producing and installing its solar roof during the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, the company is considering building up to three more battery facilities. Tesla’s first battery plant, the Gigafactory, is located in Sparks, Nevada and is slated to operate at full capacity in 2018.

While Tesla ramps up its battery and solar division, the company already has 300 megawatt-hours worth of batteries deployed in 18 countries. Here’s a look at some of the biggest projects — from resorts to entire islands — that are currently using Tesla’s Powerpacks to help keep the lights on:

SEE ALSO: Tesla is rolling out its new Autopilot system this week — here’s everything you need to know

Tesla is helping power a luxury lodge located sitting on the outskirts of Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The luxury resort, Singita Lodge, privately owns 33,000 acres of land in Kurger National Park, which is home to buffalo, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, and more. The resort itself has on-site solar panels running on Tesla’s 3,150 kilowatt-hours Powerpack system.

Singita Lodge practices ecotourism, though it’s certainly a pricier form. According to Travel + Leisure, the resort has 15 loft suites, spa, fitness center, smoothie and espresso bar, and gym. A villa costs 17,9025 rand ($13,285) a night. 

The resort says team members lead conservation efforts like the rehabilitation and maintenance of land, wildlife monitoring, and fencing security to initiate anti-poaching methods.

Tesla is also powering another luxury resort on Malolo Island, a volcanic island in Fiji.

Called Vunabaka, the resort sells properties priced as high as $2.5 million. A 2014 New Zealand Herald article said the properties were sold largely “through word of mouth” to people from New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

The resort generates electricity via a 1-megawatt solar array powered by 20 Tesla Powerpacks.

Tesla was selected by energy company Southern California Edison to build a 20-megawatt battery system that can power 2,500 households a day.

The battery project was built at Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation and is the largest lithium ion battery storage project in the world. The system doesn’t run on solar power, but is meant to offset the energy grid by taking charge during off-peak hours, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Tesla was chosen to build the substation after the Aliso Canyon natural gas reservoir suffered a massive rupture in 2015 that displaced more than 8,000 California residents. Los Angeles wanted an electric energy solution that could be more reliable during peak times.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Why this Google engineer gave up on Silicon Valley and moved back to India

Nupur Dave

By all accounts, including her own, Nupur Dave had the dream life.

A native of India, she had spent the past decade living in the US. She was working at Google at the perk-filled “Googleplex” headquarters in Mountain View, California, at a job she loved. And she had obtained a permanent residence, her green card.

She was a manager for a part of Google called Network Content Distribution, the network tech that makes Google run faster (in geek speak: it’s Google’s homegrown alternative to a content distribution network like Akamai).

And the opportunities for promotion were plentiful.

“I got to travel all over the world, attend conferences,” she told Business Insider.”It was great. The team was great. It was really good job.”

There was just one problem. She was growing increasingly unhappy with this Silicon Valley dream life.

Expensive and lonely

For one thing, the cost of living was a hardship. While she was paid well, it wasn’t enough to get ahead in the costly Bay Area, much less buy a house.

san franciscoThe idea that all Googlers are wealthy is a “myth,” she told Business Insider. While a highly specialized software engineer or a high performance manager are definitely well compensated (some of them make seven figures between pay and stock), for many rank-and-file Google employees, “Google is a medium payer,” she said.

For instance, salaries for a technical program manager at Google range from $93,837 to $176,500, according to Glassdoor. While that’s not chicken scratch, when you factor in what it costs to live in the Valley, those salaries don’t go far.

“I always rented,” she said, and she often had a roommate, too.

But money wasn’t her main problem: loneliness was worse. She missed her family in India. She missed her home country. She was single. Working long hours for Google made it hard to meet someone and have a relationship, she said. And while there is social prestige in the Valley attached to being an engineer at Google, it also intimidated some men, she felt.

She became very involved with the Indian Google Network. Google has a large contingent of India ex-pats (including CEO Sundar Pichai) in Mountain View, and the Indian network is one of many Google diversity groups.

Googlers google bus“I founded the Women’s Cricket team at Google. And with the India Google network, I organized a lot of events. I had a life. I really had a lot of friends, I’m a very social person,” she said.

It didn’t stop that nagging feeling, though.

At one point, Dave tried shaking up her life by moving to the trendy city of San Francisco. Walk everywhere. Great food. Gorgeous views. 

But that soon became exhausting. She wound up with a three-hour commute, getting home each night at 8:30 p.m. She hired help from TaskRabbit to do the cleaning and the chores. But her rent was higher, as were other costs, and she couldn’t afford it at the level that she needed.

“I was becoming sadder and sadder,” she said. The exhaustion of living in San Francisco also meant less time to do her hobby, writing and photography for her recipe blog.

Then, during a visit home for her cousin’s wedding, she was talking with her 8-year-old nephew who asked her why she lived in America. The only answer she could think of was, “Because my job is good.” 

Less pay, more … everything

Was she really living for a job? Could she have both? A life near her family in India and Google? She searched for and landed a Google job in India of parallel responsibility as a Technical Program Manager for Google For Work. But it involved a big pay cut. 

Indians Celebrate Diwali in MumbaiShe didn’t decide to take it until she had a conversation with a stranger on a plane ride who happened to be a PhD from MIT in economics and a law professor. He told her the Google India job could have a big and helpful economic impact for her home country. And the salary was enough for her to buy her own house in India.

It’s now been seven months and she says she’s way happier. “My stress levels have been reduced to one tenth what they were. I used to sleep for 5 hours a night in the U.S. In India. I sleep for 8 hours now,” she says.

She wrote a post about leaving America for India that went viral on LinkedIn and has since received thousands of messages from people.

Her advice to other U.S. immigrants is “don’t torture yourself” but to “trust your gut.” It will tell you if the U.S. is your true home, or if it “is not your destiny.” 

SEE ALSO: MuleSoft’s Ross Mason started out as a frustrated IT guy — today, he’s worth over $167 million

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The Yahoo hack is the clearest sign yet that Russia has merged criminal hacking with a larger mission

putinTwo Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers were indicted Wednesday for what the Justice Department said amounted to directing and facilitating a massive hack on Yahoo in 2014 that compromised roughly 500 million accounts using a relatively simple method of attack.

The indictment was the first time the US had charged Russian government officials with cyber crimes, offering the clearest sign yet that Russian intelligence officials are recruiting people to engage in criminal hacking — both for personal financial gain and to spy on targets ranging from Russian journalists to private-sector employees in the American financial and transportation sectors.

From the Department of Justice indictment:

“The defendants [Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, of the FSB, and Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan and Karim Baratov] used unauthorized access to Yahoo’s systems to steal information from about at least 500 million Yahoo accounts and then used some of that stolen information to obtain unauthorized access to the contents of accounts at Yahoo, Google and other webmail providers, including accounts of Russian journalists, U.S. and Russian government officials and private-sector employees of financial, transportation and other companies. One of the defendants also exploited his access to Yahoo’s network for his personal financial gain, by searching Yahoo user communications for credit card and gift card account numbers, redirecting a subset of Yahoo search engine web traffic so he could make commissions and enabling the theft of the contacts of at least 30 million Yahoo accounts to facilitate a spam campaign.”

The Soufan Group, a strategic security firm that specializes in intelligence, law enforcement, and policy analysis, wrote Thursday that, while the targets of intelligence agencies and cyber criminal networks “are usually very different,” Russia has “increasingly blurred the lines between cyber-espionage and cyber crime in an unprecedented manner.”

“Examples of the convergence of malicious cyber activity by Russia include the hacking of Western political parties and groups, the curiously selective and well-timed releases by WikiLeaks — which is widely believed to be a Russian proxy — and theft from purely commercial entities such as Yahoo,” the firm wrote. “The US is hoping that the high-profile [indictments] will serve as notice to the Russian government that it has overstepped the long-accepted boundaries of espionage by purposefully veering into criminality.”

Experts aren’t surprised by this convergence. They say hiring elite criminal hackers has allowed Russian intelligence agencies like the FSB and the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence arm) both to improve their foreign espionage capabilities and keep potentially rogue hackers under government control.

Brandon Valeriano, a researcher at Cardiff University specializing in international relations and cyber coercion, said the Russians “want to maintain their control over the hackers, but they are also willing to take advantage of whatever capabilities these hackers might have.”

Marissa Mayer

Ian Bremmer, president of the political risk firm Eurasia Group, largely agreed.

“Cyber crime and state espionage go hand in hand in this system,” Bremmer said in an email. “Russia has employed cyber criminals for state ends for as long as they have been hacking. This is the case for the most visible incidents like taking down government websites, but it’s also true for corporate espionage and private information theft.”

“Private hackers are a source of talent, for one thing, as well as a degree of separation and deniability between state organs and end users,” Bremmer added.

The New York Times’ Andrew Kramer reported on this phenomenon in December, writing that “for more than three years, rather than rely on military officers working out of isolated bunkers, Russian government recruiters have scouted a wide range of programmers, placing prominent ads on social media sites, offering jobs to college students and professional coders, and even speaking openly about looking in Russia’s criminal underworld for potential talent.”

“If you graduated from college, if you are a technical specialist, if you are ready to use your knowledge, we give you an opportunity,” one of these ads read, according to the Times. 

As Leonid Bershidsky, founding editor of the Russian business daily publication Vedomosti, wrote in January, the dramatic arrests of two high-level FSB officers — Sergei Mikhailov, the deputy head of the FSB’s Information Security Center, and Major Dmitry Dokuchaev, a highly skilled hacker who had been recruited by the FSB — on treason charges in December offers a glimpse into “how security agencies generally operate in Putin’s Russia.”

At the time of their arrest, Dokuchaev (who was one of the Russian officials indicted for the Yahoo breach) and Mikhailov had been trying to cultivate a Russian hacking group known as “Shaltai Boltai” — or “Humpty Dumpty” — that had been publishing stolen emails from Russian officials’ inboxes, according to Russian media reports.

“The FSB team reportedly uncovered the identities of the group’s members — but, instead of arresting and indicting them, Mikhailov’s team tried to run the group, apparently for profit or political gain,” Bershidsky wrote. Shaltai Boltai complied, Bershidsky wrote, because it wanted to stay afloat, and didn’t mind taking orders from “government structures.”

“We get orders from government structures and from private individuals,” Shaltai Boltai’s alleged leader said in a 2015 interview. “But we say we are an independent team. It’s just that often it’s impossible to tell who the client is. Sometimes we get information for intermediaries, without knowing who the end client is.”

It appears that Dokuchaev and Mikhailov got caught running this side project with Shaltai Boltai — which was still targeting high-level Russian officials — when the FSB began surveilling Mikhailov. Officials targeted Mikhailov after receiving a tip that he might have been leaking information about Russian cyber activities to the FBI, according to the Novaya Gazeta.

Short of working against Russian interests, hackers “can pursue whatever projects they want, as long as their targets are outside of Russia and they follow orders from the top when needed,” said Bremmer, of Eurasia Group. The same goes for FSB officers, who are tactically allowed to “run private security operations involving blackmail and protection,” according to Bershidsky.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that the hack on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election was likely one such “order from the top” — a directive issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin and carried out by hackers hired by the GRU and the FSB. 

It is still unclear if the Yahoo breach was directed by FSB officials at the instruction of the Kremlin, like the DNC hack, or if it was one of those “private security operations” Bershidsky alluded to that some Russian intelligence officers do on the side.

Bremmer said that it’s possible the Yahoo breach was not done for state ends, especially given the involvement of Dokuchaev, who was already caught up in Shaltai Baltai’s operations to steal and sell information for personal financial gain.

“The FSB had sought to acquire [Shaltai Boltai] as much to control a valuable commodity as to control the hackers’ activities,” Bremmer said. It is possible, and likely, however, that the FSB targeted certain accounts in the data breach in the name of collecting valuable intelligence.

“It could still be a commercial operation with FSB ties,” Bremmer said, referring to the Yahoo breach. “With the caveat that any sensitive information would be retained by security officials.”

In any case, as internet governance consultant Maria Farrell wrote late last year,In [Putin’s] world, power is vertical. Someone is always pulling the strings.”

SEE ALSO: Mike Flynn was paid by Russia’s top cybersecurity firm while he still had top-secret-level security clearance

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