Tesla Solar Could Power The World Of The Future

2 weeks ago by EVANNEX 15

Tesla

Tesla SolarCity Buffalo facility

TESLA SOLAR: HOW TO POWER THE ENTIRE U.S. ON SUNSHINE

Elon Musk managed to get off a lot of really pithy comments in his recent appearance at the National Governors Association meeting – he spoke of a future in which gas-burning cars will be like horses, and explained how China has taken environmental leadership away from the US. He also discussed the personal sacrifices required of a superhero, and his failed efforts to exert a positive influence on America’s Climate-Change-Denier-in-Chief.

Tesla

Image: Tesla

Well, let’s squeeze just one more juicy post out of that orange. Elon also described, in simple and engaging language, how solar energy will power the world of the future. He began by noting that, in a sense, we already live in a solar-powered world.

“The Earth is almost entirely solar-powered today, in the sense that the sun is the only thing that keeps us from being at the temperature of cosmic background radiation, which is 3 degrees above absolute zero,” Musk explained.

“The amount of energy that reaches us from the sun is tremendous. It’s 99 percent-plus of all the energy that Earth has. People talk about fusion…but the sun is a giant fusion reactor in the sky. It’s really reliable. It comes up every day. If it doesn’t, we’ve got bigger problems.”

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris.

Tesla Solar

Sprig Electric Tesla Battery-Solar Installation

Almost all the energy on Earth ultimately comes from the sun (the exception is geothermal energy). Wind is caused in large part by the sun’s uneven heating of the atmosphere; hydroelectric energy depends on the water cycle, which is driven by solar-powered evaporation; and even fossil fuels store energy that was originally captured via photosynthesis. So why not cut out the middle man and get our electricity from solar panels?

Just how many of those solar panels would be needed to supply America’s energy needs?

“If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles,” Musk said. “The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square mile.”

Tesla

A solar farm within the small square in red could power the entire United States (Image: Cisco Blog via Tesla)

Musk envisions a combination of energy sources, including both utility-scale generating plants and distributed rooftop solar panels.

“We’ll need a combination of utility-scale solar and rooftop solar, combined with wind, geothermal, hydro, probably some nuclear for a while, in order to transition to a sustainable situation,” said Musk. He also explained some of the advantages of distributed (rooftop) solar power. “People do not like transmission lines going through their neighborhood. They really don’t like that, and I agree.”

Asked how EVs can compete in a world of low gas prices, Elon explained that the full costs of fossil fuels are not paid by its users, but by society as a whole.

“There’s an unpriced externality in the cost of fossil fuels,” he said. “The unpriced externality is the probability-weighted harm of changing the chemical constituency of the atmosphere and oceans. Since it is not captured in the price of gasoline, it does not drive the right behavior. It’d be like if tossing out garbage was just free, and there was no penalty, and you could do it as much as you want. The streets would be full of garbage. We’ve regulated a lot of other things, like sulfur emissions and nitrous oxide emissions; it’s done a lot of good on that front.”

Above: Even back in 2011, Musk was pushing for the transition to solar; he also discusses how/why Tesla’s battery packs are recyclable (Youtube: Go 100%)

An important point that discussions about the energy transition often miss: the fossil fuel industry employs millions of people, and they shouldn’t be seen as the villains of the piece.

“They worked really hard to create those companies,” Musk said. “They feel like they are being attacked on moral grounds. And it is true that we cannot instantaneously change to a sustainable situation.”

Society will ignore the plight of laid-off oil and coal workers at its peril. But before you start feeling sorry for Big Oil, remember that they are not defenseless – the giant companies are using their massive political clout to derail the energy transition, a process that is probably only beginning. “Those guys will…fight pretty hard to slow down the change,” says Musk, “and that’s really what I think is morally wrong.”

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Source: InverseHuffington Post

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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15 responses to "Tesla Solar Could Power The World Of The Future"

  1. Four Electrics says:

    Storage is the key here. To store even 10% of US electricity generation from summer winter using batteries would cost at least 60 trillion dollars. Thus, batteries are a joke for this application; hydrogen caverns, pumped hydro and CAES are the forerunners.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      So bettery storage is a joke but hydrogen caverns are the future…is the rock you live under really that big?

    2. speculawyer says:

      No one suggests using batteries for seasonal storage. That’s a strawman argument.

      1. Get Real says:

        Actually, its a fake argument by a serial anti-Tesla troll and fossil fools.

        1. DJ says:

          It’s actually not an argument at all 😀

          But ya, who in their right mind would ever suggest batteries for seasonal storage…

          I suspect it would be significantly more cost effective to just build out additional panels or lay a cable to a stable and friendly country so that we could offer them more power in their winter and vice versa. Australian outback anyone!

    3. Martin Winlow says:

      You again. Are you actually one of InsideEV’s staff, writing under a pseudonym to generate some interest in the articles here?

      Or have you just forgotten to take your meds again?

    4. Not to mention overbuild, demand response, trade, CSP… Heat can be stored underground, as in Denmark. It’s inefficient to use this for electricity, but it cuts the seasonal imbalance a lot in coldish climates like Northern Europe and New England where winter heating is a major driver of energy demand. The reason France is going for wind rather than solar is that the peak demand is from residential electrical heating, encouraged during the atomic era.

      My guess is that most of the seasonal imbalance will be met by overbuilding wind,. which tends to run stronger in winter. At an LCOE of 3c/kwh with priority despatch, it’s still 6c/kwh at 50% average curtailment This looks cheaper than other options. In that case you will only need 2 weeks or so of storage (hydro, P2G) to cope with weather cycles.

  2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    SCTY needs to get their prices down.

    1. Mark.ca says:

      How exactly? They compete against a flood of cheap Asian panels, maybe they can get more competitive in instal pricing…it’s a race to the bottom in the solar insatl biz.

  3. speculawyer says:

    SolarCity is a big installer but their solar tiles project hasn’t got off the ground yet.

    Plenty of other installers out there.

    BTW, if you have been wondering if you should get an EV or solar PV…you should really go with solar PV. It pays for itself and the technology is now very cheap & mature. (Well, it does need to integrate batteries better but if you have net-metering where you live, its great.) EVs are more of technology still improving.

  4. John in AA says:

    You missed the tides in your list of energy not driven by solar radiation. And if we were talking human-produced energy (which I guess we’re not?) there would be nuclear fission too, but in the world of naturally occurring energy that comes down to “geothermal”.

  5. vdiv says:

    Censorship… love it 😛

    ***mod edit (staff)***
    addition: for explanation

    It’s not personal, but we don’t allow any slander of an author/site of any kind, and/or the insinuation that IEV has some vested interest in publishing something other than we find it interesting. Not that you went overly far, but it is a 100%, cut & dry policy.

    You can call it censorship if you like, but you wouldn’t allow anyone to come into your house and insult your children either.
    ***mod edit***

    1. vdiv says:

      Touchy a bit, I apologize.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Vdiv,

        It’s no worries – no need to apologize, the criteria is there just to have even (and easy/consistent) moderation for whoever is online doing it – so there isn’t different shade of oversight, and so it can be done as quickly as possible, and to protect the interests of the site.

        I can assure you no one takes it personally on this side at all, we do get that people are not always happy with our decisions on coverage, or angles. We put out lots of articles, not all are for everyone…and not everyone is a slam-dunk winner.

  6. The ugliness of transmission lines is not a law of nature. The lattice HV pylons we all know and hate are designs from the 1930s. Several countries are introducing far better monopole designs: Google Inages “EDF Roseau pylon”. Local distribution low-voltage lines should simply be buried. You never see an overhead line in a German town. This costs money, but you get far higher reliability as well as the aesthetic payoff.

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