Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030 (Book Review)

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By José Cordeiro

All the armies in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come. —Victor Hugo, 1854

If you find a prediction reasonable, than it is probably wrong, because the future is not reasonable; it is fantastic! —Arthur C. Clarke, 1964

Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil — and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the Oil Age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil. —Sheik Ahmed Yamani, 2000

Most long-range forecasts of what is technically feasible in future time periods dramatically underestimate the power of future developments because they are based on what I call the “intuitive linear” view of history rather than the “historical exponential” view. —Ray Kurzweil, 2005

tony sebaTony Seba has been working, teaching, and researching about energy issues for years. Since last decade, he has been making energy forecasts which might have looked unreasonable then, but that have already become reality this decade. Now he forecasts that by 2030 all energy generation will be solar and wind, and all new cars will be autonomous (self-driving) and electric vehicles. Since only about 1% of the global energy production is solar (+ a bit more wind) today, some might think that the 100% target by 2030 seems impossible. Others might ponder that it is even more incredible to go today from less than 1% electric vehicles and basically 0% self-driving cars (just to give two very rough numbers about the current situation) to 100% electric and 100% autonomous for all the new vehicle production by 2030.

If those predictions were not enough, he also forecasts that the current oil, nuclear, natural gas, coal, biofuels, electric utilities, and conventional car industries will be totally “obliterated” through the convergence of solar and wind with electric and autonomous vehicles by 2030. Will Tony Seba’s predictions for 2030 be right again? I sincerely hope so, for the benefit of humanity!

Clean Disruption

ImprimirClean Disruption of Energy and Transportation is a really disruptive book. More than disruptive, it is a revolutionary book that envisions the evolution of the energy and transportation industries during the next two decades. The economic value of those two sectors is truly immense, the energy industry represents about $8 trillion and the transportation industry about $4 trillion, every year. Thus, we are talking about disrupting $12 trillion, which is a huge number, almost as big as the economy of China, the European Union, or the United States.

In his previous book, Solar Trillions, Tony Seba already considered the rapid, even exponential, growth of solar energy. His 2010 forecasts have been surprisingly accurate, particularly since organizations like the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) have been consistently wrong, always underestimating the growth of the solar industry. While the IEA and EIA have basically used linear projections, Tony Seba has considered exponential increases in production and exponential decreases in costs.

Tony Seba

Tony Seba has had a distinguished career as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and executive. He got his B.Sc. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where we studied together, and later he received his MBA from Stanford University. He was an early employee in Cisco Systems, and he later cofounded, where he received several awards. Currently, he is a lecturer at Stanford University, startup mentor, private investor, and corporate advisor. His leadership has been recognized in publications like BusinessWeek, his articles have appeared in Forbes, and he has written three best-selling books. Tony Seba has been a keynote speaker from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong, from Auckland to Seoul.

On his new book, Tony Seba describes very well why solar energy is related much more to the new digital industries of Silicon Valley than to the old fossil fuel industries. SolarCity is an example of the new energy companies, while ExxonMobil is an example of the old energy dinosaurs. Similarly, he describes an electric and self-driving car as a computer on wheels, and he explains how far ahead the new cars are from the traditional vehicles manufactured in Detroit, Germany, and Japan. Google and Tesla are pushing forward with electric and self-driving cars, while GM and Toyota, for example, seem to have a hard time following these new trends.

Exponential Growth

Exponential growth is the main driver behind the growth of the solar industry, and exponential growth is also behind the growth of the electric and self-driving cars. Even if today there is only 1% of solar energy capacity, and less than 1% of new cars are electric vehicles, it is just seven doublings away before reaching 100%. Both industries seem to be doubling about every two years, more or less, and so there will be 2% in two more years, 4% in four years, 8% in six years, 16% in eight years, 32% in ten years, 64% in twelve years, and 100% in fourteen years, or less. Obviously, it depends on the continuous growth of such industries until market saturation, but the historical trends are very clear. And self-driving cars, which are not yet commercialized, have the potential to grow even faster thanks to network effects. Therefore, thinking exponentially, it is not surprising to move from 1% to 100% in fourteen years if the doubling time is just two years, which has been very close to reality until now. Think of Moore’s Law for solar energy, actually called Swanson’s Law in honor of the Stanford professor who founded SunPower, and also Moore’s Law for electric and self-driving cars (i.e., computers on wheels).

Indeed, a “solar energy tsunami” is fast approaching and it will completely obliterate the fossil fuel companies and the old electric utilities. In parallel, another “electric and self-driving car tsunami” will also disrupt the traditional car companies that do not adapt to the fast new realities. Emerging companies with new Silicon Valley models will completely disrupt the conventional energy and transportation sectors. What is even better, this disruption will be clean, and it will actually improve the human condition. For years, for decades, energy and transportation were two of the dirtiest industries in the world. In the future, they will be cleaner, much cleaner.

How much will it cost?

Is it really possible to transition from the current Oil Age to the future Solar Age? According to the famous Sheik Ahmed Yamani, the answer is certainly affirmative. But will it cost more than the existing status quo? Let’s consider the facts!

According to the World Energy Investment Outlook published by the IEA in 2014, the energy industry will require $48 trillion investments from 2015 to 2035. That huge amount will roughly be distributed as $23 trillion in fossil fuels, $10 trillion in power generation (including only $6 trillion for renewables), $8 trillion in energy efficiency, and $7 trillion in transmission and distribution. On top of that, half a trillion dollars are spent yearly on subsidies for fossil fuels, about $550 billion in 2013. Obviously, the IEA favors fossil fuels since the agency was created by the OECD in 1974 following the 1973 oil crisis to guarantee the oil needs of the industrialized countries. Just like the US DOE was originally created in 1977 as a reaction to the 1973 oil crisis. Thus, both institutions consider mostly fossil fuels in their projections, with much less than 10% solar energy by 2035. However, this linear thinking does not capture the reality of solar capacity growing exponentially, and its costs decreasing exponentially.

Solar costs have been decreasing exponentially from almost $100/W in the 1970s. Today, total costs of solar installations vary from $3/W to $1/W, depending on altitude and longitude, including cities and rural areas, and size, including utility-scale, commercial, and residential sites. Continuing with the exponential decrease of costs, combined with the exponential increase of production, it is foreseeable that in the next few years it will cost less than $1/W to install solar power anywhere, including storage costs.

The total power consumed by humanity today is about 15 TW, and this number might increase very little during the next few years, since over half of all the energy produced today is wasted. The worst industry is the transportation sector, where close to 80% of the energy is wasted. Thanks to big improvements in energy efficiency, like it has happened in the last few years, and the great energy savings thanks to electric and self-driving cars, total power consumption might even remain constant or decline slightly.

Combining the total power consumption of 15 TW and $1/W, it gives $15 trillion in investments to transform the energy matrix from fossil fuels to solar energy, including storage. Even considering a small increase in power consumption, and low capacity factors, the total amount might be $30 trillion, or even $45 trillion, considering three times the production capacity of 15 TW. Therefore, the numbers given by the IEA to sustain the Oil Age are an insult to those who want a cleaner world, and with cheaper energy.

The “Enernet” — clean energy and transportation for all

My friend Robert Metcalf, former MIT professor and inventor of Ethernet, popularized the idea of an Energy Internet or “Enernet.” This Enernet or Energy Network will allow us to connect the whole world and to increase, not reduce, our energy consumption. With the Enernet, energy and power will become abundant and basically free, just like information and bandwidth are today thanks to the Internet. Storage considerations are also important, but new batteries and other advanced technologies will make the Enernet more resilient and create positive network effects. This intelligent Enernet will also help power the new transportation system based on electric and self-driving cars.

According to Metcalfe, the Enernet will bring fundamental changes in the way we produce and consume energy, from generation to transmission, storage, and final utilization. The Enernet should really create a smart energy grid with distributed resources, efficient systems, high redundancy, and high storage capacity. The Enernet should also help the transition to clean energy and renewable sources, with new players and entrepreneurs taking the place of traditional “big oil” and utilities, and old monolithic producers giving more control to energy prosumers (producers and consumers). Finally, we will continue the transition from expensive energy to cheap energy in a world where energy will be recognized as an abundant resource. 

Global companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, IKEA, Walmart, among many others, have publicly announced that they want to power all their operations with renewable energy. Additionally, retailers like Walmart also announced that they will install electric car chargers at their stores, so that clients can charge their vehicles for free, just like the Tesla Superchargers, also for free. Why for free? Because electricity is much cheaper than oil, and it will only get cheaper with more and more solar power, at lower and lower installation costs. 

Clean Disruption shows the path for abundant and cheap energy for everybody, with economic and efficient transportation on demand. Poor people around the world will leapfrog the fossil fuel and utility dinosaurs and move directly to intelligent distributed energy systems, just like the poor moved from no phones to mobile phones. In fact, many of those mobile phones are charged today by solar panels in many rural areas. This Clean Disruption will be better for you, better for me, better for humanity, and better for the environment. 

José Cordeiro, MBA, PhD

Visiting Research Fellow, IDE – JETRO, Japan

Director, Venezuela Node, The Millennium Project

Adjunct Professor, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia

Founding Faculty, Singularity University, NASA Research Park, Silicon Valley, California

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75 thoughts on “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030 (Book Review)

  • It is as clear that this is going to happen as it was that the Internet would become ubiquitous. The only big detail left to fill in is the exact value of the scalar multiple in the exponential’s exponent.

  • Much as I would like it to be true, its clearly OTT. Russia and places with no sun for some months are going to go 100% renewables in 15 years? Don’t see why Japan is going to be able to either, even if solar was way cheaper bureaucratic issues still hold things up. We will quite likely see world CO2 emissions in permanent and significant decline because of renewables before 15 years however.
    The ~100% self driving part I find the most believable, ~100% electric is possible though would take a massive ramp up in battery capacity.

    • Why do people always assume that Solar *has* to be the main renewable generation used? What’s wrong with having a 95% wind/Hydro/Thermal power and 5% solar mix?

      Regarding Japan, Governments have been known to change their tune – look at Australia.

      • Rather not, too depressing.

        • Why? They continue to convert to Solar PV and very low cost storage, now coming to market, will speed this up. They already have some wind generation. Western Australia Labor party just lost to pro-solar/pro-renewables leader. Liberal Party and Tony Abbott will lose the national election very badly in 2016. Solar and Wind is winning in Australia.

          • Please dump Tony Abbott ASAP! He is a walking disaster.

          • He will go and will serve as a lasting lesson that his kind of retrograde policies don’t win elections. An object lesson to all the other pols around the world who care about nothing so much as winning elections. That is Abbott’s divinely appointed purpose in the grand scheme of things.

            Regrettably, the US may have to learn the same lesson on it’s own. President Bush III and VP Ted Cruz?

          • Or, he will serve as a warning to others of his ilk worldwide,that it’s time to grab as much as you can before the brown stuff hits the extraction equipment, and take it,regardless of the damage their short sighted policies will cause.

          • I’m not Australian. I’m USA.
            Want me to forward link where apposing party had a chance to dump him earlier this year? They didn’t because they are setting up for 2016 elections. Tony Abbott has cooked his parties goose. Watch and enjoy.
            Consider what this will mean as an example the US republican party (and democrate party) in 2016 and beyond.
            …follow the money… it’s changing.

          • Aye, the money and unfortunately that’s why things are changing, not responsible government or a duty of care for our environment, but big capital realising where the money is going to be in the future, but if thats what it takes!
            Unfortunately It will probably mean communities having the chance to shape their ‘energy future’ taken from them as corporations and utilities adapt to keep their cold dead hands on the development of the renewable future.

          • Looking forward to seeing Abbott get the boot.

          • And QL replaced their premier with a labour premier,did it stop the Galilee project?
            Unfortunately FF has deep pockets and many a politician in those same pockets, RE will win, but it will take longer and it will be a much messier transition than it need be.
            Hopefully I’m going to be proved wrong, and if I have got the QL scenario wrong then hopefully our Australian friends will correct me;)

          • I think you’re right, RE lost out in QL. Still FF, and coal in particular, are losing money now. Future is increasingly with renewables. Some politicians have already figured this out. Some haven’t yet …but they will.

    • Russell – Its more likely large areas will be 80% renewables. Some areas less, and some more, but an average like that. Thats what NREL concludes about the US.
      And lets face it, our current practices probably exclude living in the desert, too. Water scarcity and energy costs will make it more prohibitive. So populations will shift to where renewables foster growth and away from areas artificially supported by cheap FF. That shift has started and will continue.
      We simply will not copy existing wasteful practices fostered by cheap FF in the future. There will be no EV Winnebagos towing 2 ton boats. Not because it can’t be done. But because it will be too expensive. All the same fun will be had. Just in different ways.
      Fifteen years ago an article could have been written saying you had to have cheap gas so everyone could drive more, and you had to have ever growing electricity consumption……

      Didn’t happen. Not true. Lifestyles are changing and will continue to do so.

      • The thrust of the article is that energy will become very, very cheap. In that case, moving to the desert becomes cheaper not more expensive.

        Wikipedia has a good artilcle on desalination and it generally comes in at about 2x the current cost of water. But that current water cost is unrealistic and will have to go up anyway just to induce conservation.

        Land agriculture (45% of water usage) will likely have to leave the desert areas like CA’s central valley, but that just leaves more water for people, fish, and wetlands restoration.

        AZ will have to pay more for water, but that probably won’t force people to move out when housing is so cheap and the sun provides more kWh than they know what to do with.

        Current power plants use prodigious amts of water. Shutting them down will free up a lot of water.

        Nobel laureate Paul Krugman argues internal population movements in the US is mainly induced by the availability of AC in hot areas. Cheaper kWh will only accelerate that.

        Winnebagos never, *ever* made economic sense any more than 200 ft yachts do. Cheaper kWh won’t change that.

        • I am just saying there will be shifts. Only certain kinds of energy will be cheaper, not all kinds. And not all means will be equal, either.

          I know the article says energy will be cheap. But not all energy everywhere. Solar energy will be cheap in the desert, but with global warming, water will be more dear than ever, agreed.

          Its debatable if there is any more water for residential and what the future of CA is without the farms. Its big business. Tech can’t just make up for it completely.

          But Central Valley water usage is famously wasteful. Cotton and almonds on the Carizzo plains. And if you drive by there you will see big posters declaring why the farmers should get all that water.

          You will see panel discussions where state farm reps will be scolding residence for water use.

          Residential use is small compared to farms.

          Jon Stewart has a thing or two to say about that..

          Some of that population shift will have to do with which is cheaper heating or cooling. In the North, wind will heat in winter. In the south, solar will cool in Summer.

          I expect it might turn out people live on the coast where its relatively cooler and import the solar from the desert. Transmission is cheap.
          If you look at transmission lines and costs, what you see is that areas of deep transmission congestion and highest demand, are the most expensive. Think New York and East Coast. Its a geographic thing, because all the power comes from inland and a lot of the shore is peninsular like and causes grid congestion. That leaves an opportunity for East Coast offshore wind.

          What loses out is extreme places that are only supported by oil now.

          On that note, take a look at what is happening in Hawaii. They are starting floating offshore wind there. Thats exciting.

          • In Re: “what the future of CA is without the farms” They will make more money selling their water rights to the cities.

          • Michael – That may happen. But its like an economy based on cigarette smoking. Its self limiting. A future California economy without agriculture will shrink. Maybe it needs to change because its just awful to grow cotton in an arid desert, true. But there will be damage due to global warming. Where are those crops going to come from now?
            There are only a few places in the world that supply most of the food we take for granted. And they are being impacted..
            Forget about water for residences…
            Remember what happened in the Phillipines when rice became scarce and what the strife happening in Syria because farmer lost their land to drought. Thats happening world wide and it aint pretty.

          • From the chart CA’s GDP will shrink by 1%-2%. Yes, an amazingly huge %-age of produce comes from CA. It will have to come from somewhere else.

            I agree, global warming is not a pretty sight. Maybe having their face rubbed in that fact in their own back yard and suffering some economic pain will convince some of the deniers who are blocking progress. As long as it is Bengla Desh and Syria falling apart they can shrug and ignore it.

            The ski resorts in CA already have cause to take note of it. The more conservative business people see it affects them directly, the sooner we can get on with fixing it.

            The Republican party was not always this retrograde – maybe it can be the party of Teddy Roosevelt again instead of Warren Harding.

          • Ski resorts don’t have as much pull as oil companies … yet.
            Pretty soon they will.. 🙂

          • Yes, cotton is grown in Arizona as well and we would all do much better if hemp was substituted as the textile crop of choice in these arid climates. I’m sure there are also far more suitable places to grow almonds.

            But did you investigate the links I posted in my previous message? I’ve only recently become aware of aquaponics (not to be confused with basic hydroponics) and was immediately impressed that it’s a system that uses about 10% of the water associated with conventional soil-based agriculture. That’s not an insignificant reduction!

            I’ve seen small backyard garden systems work and I’m
            putting a system together for myself now. It appears to be scalable and I can’t see why it couldn’t help save Central Valley’s drought-stricken ag industry.

          • Yes. Aquaponics is really a small ecosystem. Thats why it works. A combination of this, other practices, and ceasing the destructive almond and cotton growing in the San Joaquin basin would do us nicely.

            And good for you for doing one. I am using simple drip irrigation, low water garden, and saving some indoor water for watering the lawn.

            Thing is, only 4% of the water usage in California is residential. And thats where we are told to save water. This is nuts. Literally.

            The biggest water waste is alfalfa, almonds, and cotton.

            Yet on forum discussions you can see agriculture panelist scolding residential users for water wastage and telling them how essential agriculture is. My foot. California water wars hasn’t changed a bit in a century. Its still like the movie Chinatown.


            Saving the central valleys drought stricken ag industry is going to take more than offering a better solution.

            They are hooked on the crack of unmetered Sierra runoff and state government political influence peddling.

    • Russia has plenty of sun. At the higher latitudes poulation is insignificant. Think about Germany with some of the worst solar conditions and the world solar pv leader. Norway and Sweden is tough for solar because they are above 60 degrees latitude but they are already 100% renewable because of hydro. Russia also may have hydro resources for the far North. Right now Canada produces 60% of its electricity from Hydro. However electricity demands are only about 25% of energy demands. The question is: Can we produce all energy demands through solar and wind by 2030. By pure guesswork, half rational, half intuition, I’d say,Yes.

      • By simple calculation, YES many times over using Solar PV …and no it does not take a lot of area to do this.
        Same for Wind, but not as many times over and I haven’t personally calculated for wind.
        I’m speaking from a Global perspective here, but your point on Germany vs Russia is spot on!

      • Yes thats true, but my point is for it to happen completely in 15 years, the economics need to be overwhelmingly in favor. Otherwise Russia will subsidize FF to zero to protect incumbents. If you said 30 years then there would be a much higher chance.
        Also for a country like Japan have you calculated how much they need to increase their solar installation rate? Even if solar was <1c kWh now I would still bet it would take time to ramp up installation rates. Power lines need to be approved and built also. That doesn't happen exponentially faster.

        • Its going to be warmer in Russia. And tell you what. Demographics will change to match renewables. We won’t make renewables match FF demographics. Cheap oil caused too much frivolous waste.

          • “Demographics will change to match renewables.”

            This is a topic that isn’t widely discussed. Looking back we can see this happening before in history, technology moving to where energy was cheapest/most available.

            Textiles moved from England to the US largely to get closer to the source of materials but moved to New England specifically (far from the cotton fields) because of abundant hydro to drive the plants.

            Then textiles moved to the South, seeking out cheap labor. But moved to the eastern Tennessee area in order to access cheap TVA electricity.

            East Tennessee also was picked by Alcoa because of electricity prices.

            Energy hungry businesses will locate where energy is least expensive and workers will follow.

          • Hey, Bob. How about an article? I seem to be in a rousing mood lately. Not just demographics changing. Habits, too. And expectations. Whole life styles. They already have with ride sharing. I have seen some references to Jeremy Rifkins sharing economy.
            Looking at the emerging world through the eyes of the past energy wasting oil era and looking for replacements for that is … myopic.

          • Write away. I’ll plug you in with Zach.

    • Has to be lots of wind in Northern Russia, just like Northern Alaska.

  • The revolution is happening, but it’s absurd to give Silicon Valley so much of the credit. Elon Musk may come from that culture, but not much of the world’s solar industry is based there, and none of the wind. In evs, Nissan (largest in cars) is the Japanese subsidiary of a French carmaker, BYD (largest in buses) is all Chinese. Even in its original strength of microelectronics, Intel has been overtaken by ARM, based in Cambridge, England, as the world’s design shop for mobile and embedded processors. That includes the many on which self-driving cars must rely. Apple, Google and Microsoft still dominate their niches, and the Silicon Valley complex stays very prosperous, but its days as something unique in the world are probably over.

    • Agree, China made Solar affordable with low prices, high quality. In stead of support Solar devolepment, EU and USA install import tax.

  • Inspiring and interesting! Thank you!

  • Would be great to think this could happen but I think he’s overstating the speed of transformation

    • The speed of the prediction is too high. Even if everyone was trying to make it happen and the FF lobby weren’t fighting a last ditch campaign every inch of the way. But ultimate victory for renewables is assured.

      • My view exactly, only thing that worries me is long term complacency, the transition won’t be easy and the RE industry needs to spend more to get this into mainstream media, even, horror of horrors, buying a few politicians 😉

        • No, I disagree. This is being driven be economics. RE just has to be the cheaper alternative. That drives everything else …and it’s starting to happen now.

          • Well maybe we could vote out a few of the bad apple politicians, but actually you are right. The politicians go where the money goes. Look at Iowa. Republican governor. Wind state. Do you think he badmouths renewables? No. Its West Virginia and Kentucky and Wyoming. Coal states.

  • Does he include in transportation, air travel, ocean shipping and trail transport.
    Rail would be easy to change to RE power, but the other two?

    • I have a new crackpot scheme for ocean shipping. High voltage Dc cable across the major shipping routes. Running like trolleys on fixed routes with electric tugboats for short moves. Green electricity from many sources. Minimal batteries. As for air travel. Elon musk ways batteries at 400 watt kg density is enough for airline flight at high altitudes where the friction is tiny and where oxygen requirements for jet fuel is absent. Electri motors don’t need oxygen.

      • “Crackpot” is right!

        You have *clearly* never experienced a Pacific hurricane in the middle of the ocean. I went through several, just the outer edge. 50 deg. rolls. Waves like small mountains. People had to be strapped into their bunks or they would be thrown out during the night.

        Some friends went through the middle on bigger ships and the enormous waves put sizable dents in 8-inch thick armor-plated bulk-head doors.

        Not the quaint little trolley streets you see in Europe.

        • Does not have to be hurricane, just bad storms have sunk or damaged ships.
          And with climate change waves are getting bigger and stronger.

        • The notion came from reading the article on Norway’s 750 km high voltage cable to England under the sea. 1.5 gw line from hydro. Thats a lot of juice. Enough to run 15 of the largest container ships in the world. The cables would need to be down 100 yards or so, not surface. Shipping routes would change to favor convenience of lines vs wind and currents. Bering strait is 37 miles across, Russia to Alaska then coastal cables. A lot of tanker routes are off the coast so easy to supply. The Atlantic crossing is densest from New york to England. It needs to run to Canada, Greenland, then England for ease of transmission. The whole thing needs re thinking. Unless they go to hydrogen. Sulphur emissions are beyond acceptable, I can’t believe shipping has gotten away with it. They cannot continue in the modern world though.

          • I see trucks driving on the highways on diesel for 1000 s of Ks, isnt it easy to put a trolley line over the highway and connect the trucks to the line like a trolley and make trucks EV long distance. Powered by renewable electricity Solar and Wind Power along the way.
            saves a lot of diesel and money.

          • Theres lots of things that make sense we are not doing. Just the easiest, cheapest, dirtiest, first…

          • How many Tesla 85 kWh battery packs would it take to move a loaded 18 wheeler 200 miles?

          • Is that a technical question? Take a look at Balqon for an answer. Its still too expensive. Real question is, which technology(s) could be a replacement for that. Thing is, I look at it and say, why are we doing it in the first place? Its only there because of cheap oil and it doesn’t make any sense anymore. Thats what I mean by not trying to replace existing cheap oil metaphors. Whats the point?

            We didn’t have much long haul truck freight back in the heyday of railroads. We shipped by rail, and freighted locally by truck.

            Now that does make sense. And there are already plenty of trucking solutions available for that.

            All I see everywhere I look is solutions that are not being used.
            Like Demand Response instead of Storage.

            I am beginning to think we should extend the article

            “psychological barriers to EV adoption”


            “psychological barriers to simple solutions for energy and GW”

            Like not growing cotton, alfalfa, almonds while fracking in California drought and requesting the 4% water usage residences to cut back.

            Here is Balqon. 150 miles. Its a matter of markets and costs.


            Here is a ton (haha) of EV trucks.


          • It is a technical question.

            I’ve seen a couple people do the math but I failed to keep links. If we know ‘x’ packs then we can predict costs for 2-5 years from now when the GigaFactory is running and for a little later when batteries should drop to $100/kwh.

            From your second link I find ” It features two motors with total power of 300 kW and torque of 610 Nm, two inverters, two 3-phase 22 kW chargers and two 120 kWh LiFePO4 battery packs (each one is five times the size of the pack in a LEAF). Range is estimated at up to 186 miles. ”

            240 kWh for 186 miles. Delivery service. 200 highway miles for 300 kWh? 3.5 Tesla 85kWh packs.

            300 kWh at $130/kWh = $39,000.

            20,000 gallons of fuel per year? At $3.50/gallon that is $70,000.

          • You make a pretty good case. I just don’t know the numbers for gas and diesel rigs by heart to do a good comparison. I remember doing some a while ago. It comes down to higher first cost for EV rigs versus gas or diesel, and the better O and M of electric.
            I believe its easier to convince fleet people on the basis of O and M, since they are familiar and its their bread and butter.
            The real selling point to them is they want to see some real proof in operation. Don’t look to these guys to buy anything cheap made in China that might not be reliable. They know names like Peterbilt.
            And EV company has a hard sell just because these guys always go back to names they know. And they want to go back to them for service and support. It has to be a partner relationship.

            But keep going. You are starting to convince me. This market is hardly ever mentioned in articles because its not so flashy. But tractor EVs were making inroads before passenger EVs.

          • Looks to me to be a natural for Musk. Just do enough to kick things into gear. Kind of like he did the hyperloop.

            Grab an old tractor and tear everything off the frame. Mount three 85 kWh battery packs in a way that allows them to be snatched out and replaced with a forklift (basic battery swap). Add driver motor(s) and steer/brake drive by wire.

            Hook up a trailer loaded to the highway max weight.

            Drive around the track until there’s 10 miles (or something) left. Snatch out the pack, shove in a fresh one. Repeat.

            Take the video and data to Peterbuilt and other truck manufacturers and see if they are interested in developing.

            Offer to build the battery packs at the GigaFactory and to share development of swapping stations.

            If you look at the ModS battery pack it’s less than 86″ wide and less than 116″ long (ModS ext specs – Wheelbase 116.5″; Width 86.2″) and it is thin.


            A stack of packs should easily fit in a tractor.

          • Cost?

            The best solution would likely be for a standalone company (companies) to run a battery leasing/charging/swapping business.

            There might be a buyin for a new tractor. You might have to pay the cost of a new pack but pay on time. Then the pack you paid for gets put into the swap inventory when you pick us a charged pack.

            I see the swapping process being pretty simple as long as the battery packs are standardized. Drive into the swap bay and up to the wheel stops/chocks. Machine comes out from the side, snatches out your battery, and delivers it to the charge room. Another machine comes out and sticks in a charged battery. Wheel stops drop. You’re out. There wouldn’t be enough time to get out to pee.

            200 miles using 300 kWh + 10% for charging loss. 330 kWh at 8 cents or less (industrial prices) = $26.40.

            200 miles at 6 MPG and $3.50 diesel = $116.67.

            No oil changes (15 gallons per change). Much less frequent brake rebuilds. No stink and noise.

          • Consider that Mercedes has a full size semi design which gets 12 miles to the gallon fully loaded. That is half the standard car mileage! 4 tesla packs should give it 300 miles. Then 4 super chargers plug in at the same time and away you go in 30 minutes. No one could compete on a cost basis for fuel. Even if you have a slight time loss, fuel costs cancel it.

          • 300 miles at a 60 MPH average is 5 hours. Meal/charge. Do the rest of the day.

          • Look at this old comment I found from some guy named Vinnie Soda or something…

            “Hey Bob, I was just looking at the Tesla site and they have already had this discussion. They seem to think that an 80,000 lb semi (the heaviest weight class) can go 300 miles on 450Kwh tesla battery. These semi’s get about 8 miles to the gallon, apparently once you are rolling Newtons laws take over and moving that mass is not like moving 16 tesla model s but only 5. Then super charging is not a problem, you just use 5 electric cords instead of one and you are one the road in 30 minutes. So looks realistic without much fuss. Mayve I should read more Jules Verne after all!”

            Only 19 days ago and it slipped at least two minds….

          • A tractor might make a different battery chemistry more attractive. Don’t know. Balqon is LiFePo. Has power and great lifetime. A little more heavy and bulky per khwr.

          • Coming back to this old dog. Tried cooking some numbers of my own. Can someone please check math and reasoning?

            There are 37.87 kWh in a gallon #2 diesel (Wiki)

            An efficient loaded 18 wheeler can get 8 MPG (RMI), thus is using 4.7 kWh worth of diesel per mile.

            37.87 / 8 = 4.5

            The 18 wheeler is about 45% efficient. Ouf of the 4.7 kWh used about 2.1 kWh is turned into kinetic energy, the rest into waste heat.

            4.2 * 0.45 = 2.1

            Running on a 85 kWh Tesla ModS battery pack the 18 wheeler could travel 39.9 miles.

            85 / 2.1 = 39.9

            In order to travel 200 miles the 18 wheeler would need a about 5.6 packs to allow for the 10% inefficiency of the electric motor/drivetrain. Round up to 6 packs per 200 miles.

            200 / 39.9 = 5 / 0.9 = 5.6

            One claim has been that batteries would be too heavy. The ModS pack weighs 1,200 pounds, so 6 packs would weigh 7,200 pounds.

            An 18 wheeler can carry up to 300 gallons of diesel. At 7 pounds per gallon that’s 2,100 pounds.

            I have not been able to find the weight of a diesel truck engine. I did find a claim that the overall weight of a tractor with a sleeper would be around 18,000- 21,000 pounds.

          • Tractor weight is probably not that important. The trailer load limit is 40,000 lbs, or 1000 lb per foot. Trailer weight is not too high, but the loaded trailer is heavier than the tractor. Here is an example of a tractor weight, a model from Freightliner, 56,000 lb GVW.


            Balqon’s MX30 tractor has about 125 mile range loaded. The Tesla battery would likely improve that. Balqon is claiming a 74% reduction ora bout 3X in fuel costs.


            There are many aerodynamic improvements that could radically improve that for both ICE and EV freight vehicles.

            The Balqon pack is 320 kwhr. If it goes 100 miles, it gets 3.2kwhr/mile.

            Thats about 10x a Model S. To go 200 miles, it would need between 6 and 7 85kwhr packs, or about 600kwhr.

            So thats an independent verification.

            And the dry weight of a Detroit Diesel engine is 2,763 lbs.


    • Ocean shipping. Minimize. Higher plant automation along with rising labor costs in Asia make it more reasonable to manufacture closer to market.

      Air travel Minimize. Move most moderate length travel to electrified high speed rail.

      And hope hard for the hyperloop to work. We could eliminate almost all air travel with the hyperloop. And do a lot of our trans oceanic shipping.

      • Yes I agree, if products would have to pay for the carbon for production and shipping, very little trans ocean shipping would happen.
        As for high speed trains, look at Europe and Japan, China will get there too, and at some time North America and South America as well, I hope.

        • Air and ship will go bio or synfuel. Its just no worked out yet, and the economic forces are not there yet.

  • I like the positive attitude but his forecast is overly ambitious. People are slow to move to new technologies unless they provide a big advance over the previous technology. But from the user perspective, green electricity is the same as dirty electricity. A green car is not too much different than a dirty ICE car.

    • Yes, but exponential growth and disruptive replacement happens extremely fast when cost is half of the incumbent technology. ..and that is true is an ever increasing number of areas now. Economic gain dictates this.

      “A green car is not too much different than a dirty ICE car.”

      What are you smoking there Bubba? As Wind, Solar PV, and NG replace Coal, EVs become far cleaner than ICEs. …and this is happening at an accelerating clip now.

  • Solar and wind power are energy inefficient hoaxes that only survive due to massive government subsidies and forced at gunpoint mandates. They have become vampiric special interest groups that lobby Congress for more subsidies. Who benefits? The American people pay more for electricity and food and big Chinese factories make more money selling us their worthless renewable energy junk.

    Google *The Renewable Energy Disaster* for details. The real energy solutions will be Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) and highly simplified hot fusion reactor technology as being developed by Lockheed Martin and others. Electricity at less than 1 cent per kilowatt hour is possible, and these technologies will provide energy 24-7-365, not just when the wind blows and the sun shines.

  • ” it is foreseeable that in the next few years it will cost less than $1/W to install solar power anywhere, including storage costs.”

    “Combining the total power consumption of 15 TW and $1/W, it gives $15 trillion in investments to transform the energy matrix from fossil fuels to solar energy”

    I think someone missed the relatively low capacity factor for solar. Solar at $1/W really needs about $4 dollars worth to equal a high CF generator.

    • 15 Tw produces the total energy consumption of the world. In 2008 134,000twh. 15 tw of pv will produce about 18,000 twh. Nowhere near enough, but enough to supply electrical consumption. The good news is the true potential of Solar pv alone is 478,000twh, enough to supply all energy needs 4 times over. The bad news is it will cost 75 trillions dollars to totally supply all wold energy by solar at $1 watt. Now more good news. Since conventional energy production is more expensive than pv with storage at $1 watt we would have spent 100 trillion dollars anyway for dirty energy.

      • What is not emphasized enough, IMHO, is the fact that almost none of the coal plants in use today will be in use in 2050. Even if we were to continue burning coal.

        Stuff wears out. New coal plants produce expensive electricity along with creating significant health costs.

        Replacing them with wind and solar at a much cheaper MWh price and far fewer external costs will simply save us money.

        I wonder how the cost of a MWh of wind or solar compares to the cost of a MWh of coal fuel and health costs?

        I suppose I could do that math….

        • In 2014 the US generated 1,585,697 million kWh of electricity from coal. That’s 1,585,697,000 MWh.

          Estimates of the cost of health damage caused by coal run from $140 billion to $242 billion per year.

          $140 billion / 1,585,697,000 MWh = $88.3/MWh or $0.09/kWh.

          $242 billion / 1,585,697,000 MWh = $152.6/MWh or $0.15/kWh.

          The operating cost for coal plants is about $0.05/kWh. For wind and solar the number is about $0.01/kWh.

          Adding up health and fuel/operating costs we’d save between 13 and 19 cents per kWh by shutting down coal plants..

          Those replacement wind and solar kWh would cost us 4 cents (wind) and about 7 cents (solar). Call a mix 6 cents just to be on the safe side.

          So we end up with a 7 cent to 13 cent per kWh savings

          Just health and fuel savings would pay off wind and solar and would be a continued savings into perpetuity.

          (Checking my math would be appreciated. I am not claiming infallibility.)

          • “The adoption of targets for 100 per cent renewables by 2050 could deliver combined energy savings of more than $500 billion a year to the major economies of the EU, the US and China, and create millions of new jobs, a new study has found.

            The study, released this week by NewClimate Institute and commissioned by Climate Action Network, also found that if all countries took action on renewables at this scale, global warming would not cross the 2°C threshold beyond which scientists predict would result in dangerous and irreversible changes to the earth’s climate.”


  • So the bottom line is: how much will it cost? His math is off, however if it is true that if we can get to $1watt installed with storage included, it will cost about 70% less than we would have spent for conventional energy demand for the entire world. In the end solar and wind are just cheaper.

  • Thanks for the article. It inspired me to scour Youtube to watch some of Tony’s presentations. If he is only half true than whole world as we knew last 60-70 years is at the end. We will live in something totally different, better and (nice surprise) MUCH cleaner world, with absolutely different risks. Resistance is futile, it will be smashed by the wave of innovation powered by the forces of capitalism.

  • I read the book , twice!
    I hope he is at least half right in timeline and magnitude.
    I really think when you have cleaner cheaper to operate more fun to drive 250 mile EV then it is game over for the ICE

  • Color me highly skeptical. I certainly would not mind for this book’s predictions to be true, but I think reality will not bear them out. Wind and solar are growing exponentially at the moment, but our storage technology is not nearly where it needs to be in order for them to serve 100% of our electricity needs (much less all of our energy needs, of which electricity is only one part). I personally think that until we have major breakthroughs in storage technology, the patter of wind and solar with be one of logisitic growth (which looks exactly like exponential growth to start with!), and the carrying capacity of our current grid will be substantially less than 100%. In fact, I believe that Germany’s already on the second half of their logistic curve (where the growth rate slows).

    Will Elon Musk’s gigafactory prove me wrong? Time will tell. Until then, I advocate developing nuclear and CCS in conjunction with our renewables and storage. I think a strategy that excludes any major low-carbon technology is short-sighted, and if I read the 2014 synthesis report correctly, so does the IPCC.

    • Storage seems to be coming.

      EOS Energy Systems is taking orders for 2016 delivery. $160/kWh and 10,000 cycles. That’s very affordable for frequent cycling (night wind to mornings, day solar to evenings).

      Alevo is building a large factory and intends to start selling this year. They should be able to meet or beat EOS per kWh price and their test cells were “hammered”, fully charged and discharged 40,000 times with no significant capacity loss.

      That cycle life makes for inexpensive storage.

      Ambri is scheduled to put its first commercial liquid metal battery on the grid next year. Same sort of $160 down to $100 price range as Alevo but 300+ years of unlimited cycling. That will become really inexpensive storage.

      I really doubt lithium-ion batteries are going to play a significant role on grids.

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