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Published on July 26th, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan


Edison & Tesla Video Interview (EEI’s Ted Craver & Tesla’s Elon Musk & JB Straubel, That Is)

July 26th, 2015 by  

Things being better — that’s what this conversation with Ted Craver, Elon Musk, and JB Straubel (the first video below) is all about. This interview took place at an Edison Electric Institute event and is a conversation worth adding to any collection of Elon Musk or Tesla Motors videos (Nikola Tesla is briefly mentioned by Craver as well).

Craver, Chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, leads the interview with Musk, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors, and Straubel, Chief Technical Officer of Tesla Motors. Musk shares energy vision at the 2015 EEI Annual Convention, talking of the profound commonality between Tesla and SpaceX. He mentions there is not as much commonality with his work in solar as a long-term sustainable energy source.

However, he believes solar will be the most relevant long-term sustainable source of energy. He also mentions that electric cars are a key solution to air pollution. While Musk refers to solar energy as the key long-term source of sustainable energy, he also mentions nuclear, hydrothermal, hydro, and wind. While there are these many forms of energy generation capable of being sustained in the long term, though, he stresses that he believes the primary means is solar in the long run. He also makes the point that, if you include the clear area around a nuclear power plant, as it typically has to be today, solar power (panels spread across that area) can actually generate more electricity than nuclear in that space.

Whether you are a business type or not, this video may be interesting as a brief discussion of business. Ted Craver (MBA and bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations from the University of Southern California) leads the discussion into some of Tesla’s business beliefs. Ethics is a valid reason some business types end up on organic farms. Ethics is central to Tesla’s drive, and I find the segments about ethics interesting.

–> Recommended: 18 New Tesla Model X Pictures & Videos

Communication is touched on quite well in this video discussion, and the interview reveals something of Musk’s interest in good communication. In the discussion, Musk highlights how much he wants to avert communication loss for the sake of good business standards. He does not want a broken telephone. Musk explains that, the more layers and voices information is processed through, the more possibility of information changing, even with good intention. It’s called the “broken telephone.” Musk chooses words carefully in this discussion, as he always does. He discusses values, but with a focus on action.

Ethics continues to echo when Musk discusses a list of 5 things he once made early on when he was a student (of business and innovation). Musk mentions that the list of five things he made a list of were what he believed would most affect the future: 1. the internet, 2. space exploration, 3. sustainable energy, 4. artificial intelligence, and 5. genetic engineering. He adds the last two, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering, “could go wrong” (to a room full of laughs). No kidding? According to news radio shows I have listened to from Pacifica, NPR, and such trusted newsworthy and noteworthy programs, it seems that 4 and 5 could go tortuously wrong. Stephen Hawking is actually about to do a reddit AMA on #4 potentially going wrong tomorrow, Monday (July 27).

Straubel chimed in at one point to highlight that Tesla’s engineering team sometimes has to visit SpaceX to learn how to do something better, and the SpaceX engineering team sometimes visits Tesla for the same purpose on their end.

–> Recommended: New Tesla Gigafactory Pictures

Craver’s interest in the conversation leads to Musk’s style of business meetings. Musk reveals that Tesla keeps meetings minimized. The size of meetings is kept to 4 to 6 employees. It is not necessary to stay in a meeting that is not helping a Tesla employee (or one that the employee does not give to). It is considered useless, interfering, or perhaps impolite to stay in a meeting as a Tesla employee if he or she is not contributing to the meeting. It seemed more respected and polite to get up and leave — thus, returning to productive work.

Craver leads the discussion to “disruption.” Disruption means transformative business technologies and displacement. Musk responds in this conversation:

“Well, I think I am not actually a fan of disruption for its own sake. I think that if there is a need for something to be disrupted, and it’s important to the future of the world, then sure then we should disrupt it. I don’t think we should just disrupt things unless that disruption is going to result in something fundamentally better — for society. A lot of people think I am a fan of disruption. I am not really a fan of disruption. I’m just a fan of things being better.”

The video continues by touching on the relationship between Craver and Musk (Edison and Tesla). The three discuss the Powerwall and Powerpack quite a bit.

Ethics sprouts up again towards the end of the video. Musk responds to some misinformation or at least confusion about subsidies. He politely remarks, “I wouldn’t even call what the LA Times wrote journalism.” Craver asks Musk to continue explaining his polite statement about this misrepresentation of Tesla in an article on subsidies in the LA Times.

At this point, we gather the article was quite lacking. Again perhaps an episode of the broken telephone. Or perhaps something less innocent.

–> Recommended: New Tesla Model 3 Rumors

Musk mentions the shareholders meeting that I listened to briefly on video as well. In my experience of sustainability in regards to businesses, one often reads about the lifeboat metaphor for our small planet Earth. Yes, we are all in this little lifeboat, or are we in this lifeboat country by country? Do all countries have such a lifeboat?

I have read ethical discussions about who should stay in the lifeboat. Should we help other troubled countries into our lifeboat? And what to do if someone else wants in the lifeboat and then if saving that person or helping that country entails the lifeboat being vulnerable to sinking more? Should we let that small country up into our particular secure lifeboat and chance it sinking?

I introduce the lifeboat sequence as a way of adding to the video of the recent Tesla shareholders meeting. Several Tesla shareholders who are vegan address their issues with the use of leather in Teslas. Not just the use of leather, however, but the requirement to choose leather. One of the shareholders successfully used the lifeboat metaphor in his educated question to the Tesla shareholders group. You can watch & listen to it all here:

There’s a ton more in both videos above, so I encourage you to watch them both if you have some time.

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan is an organic farmer, licensed AP, anthropologist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • Vitold

    Interesting that Edison’s stats are 80% home refuel and 20% while traveling vs 95% home/5% supercharger according to Tesla. Edison most likely considered all EVs where Tesla only their brand, of course.

    I think this discrepancy highlights the the fact that short range EVs are more disruptive to utilities (as they deepen the ‘duck curve’) since they have to recharge during the day where Tesla does not.

  • Bill Pugh

    Don’t you proof your videos before displaying? there was no sound and the closed caption was glip glop! I’m sure the discussion was interesting, but your secret is safe with me. I expected better. Bill

    • Huh? I watched both and heard fine. As did the writer. I think this is something on your end. Maybe had it muted?

  • Ivor O’Connor

    I wouldn’t even call what the LA Times wrote journalism. It was that awful. Really. … The way you can tell if something is really a shell article or real journalism is that if it is a shell article they will establish fallacies, so they will for example sum up everything that has occurred in history, and everything that will occur in the future, and make it sound like it is happening today. … They just threw in SpaceX for good measure. Just to be assholes. … So if they leave out context and don’t mention the competition is getting 1000 times more [in the case of ULA] then it is not journalism

    I didn’t go back and listen to it over and so missed quite a bit here. It is at about the 50 minute mark for those interested.

    • Mike333

      Exxon still spending money on propaganda.
      Fox News is built on the propaganda business model.
      Whenever Exxon’s check is late Fox News suddenly believes global warming is a real issue and must be addressed, typically about 2 weeks. As soon as the check clears Fox News is back on the “hoax” bull.

      LA Times and the NYTimes also occasionally take the Exxon money.

      You’d think a company spending money on climate denial is a clear sign of management incompetence, to shareholders. Because if you’re found to be a lier about the present and the future you clearly won’t manage for it.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    JB says, 36 minutes in, by the end of the decade they’ll be disappointed if their expectations of battery pack costs are not about $100/kWh.

    • Yeah, loved that. And that he said $100 and Elon had to clarify “per kWH” 😀 Could imagine commenters tearing us up if we just put $100 in there. 😀

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Must states, about 25 minutes in, the appropriate ratio of driving time to charging is about 6 or 8 to 1. And that waiting for more than an hour is not acceptable. So it is critical to Ideally get that stop down to 20 or 30 minutes. Started out with 90, then 120, now 135, and in the future even larger superchargers. This does not add up with their website charging from 10 to 80% in 40 minutes. Nor do you get three hours of driving time at 80 mph on a 40 minute charge and especially not on a 20 minute charge. Maybe Musk is talking about ideal situations. Like driving down a huge mountain at slow speeds! Certainly not driving from SD to SF!

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Eighteen minutes in Musk notes that in most instances the area cleared around a nuclear power plant if covered with solar panels would produce more energy than the nuclear power plant.

    • Bob_Wallace

      That doesn’t sound right.

      Anyone willing to do the math? I’m a bit time-stressed.

      • mike_dyke

        The Sizewell reactors in the UK are on a 245 acre site according to Wikipedia.


        245 acres = 43560*245 = 10,672,200 sq feet

        Assume 24sq feet per panel (6ftx4ft) = 444,675 panels on that area
        250watt per panel = 111,168,750watts = 111GW

        A bit better than the power station output of approx 3GW (unless my maths has gone up the creek!)

        • jjn

          111 168 750 W = 111 168 kW = 111 MW

          111 MW * 0,15 (capacity factor) = 16,7 MW

          • mike_dyke

            Whoops – maths definitely up creek, must get paddle!

            Thanks for the correction, my only excuse is it was late at night when I did it!

      • Ivor O’Connor

        We’d have to have the “cleared area” numbers for all the nuclear power plants. I have no idea what those are or what that term actually means.

        Take for instance the Sizewell reactors. It was built on roughly 1 square kilometer. Farmland is grown right next to it as can be seen with this google map: https://www.google.com/maps/search/nuclear+power+plant/@52.2075262,1.6002788,6625m/data=!3m1!1e3

        Now the evacuation zone was conveniently agreed to be 2.4 kilometers. Basically to the edge of the nearest town Leiston. Old technology is used there apparently. And it is about 3x more powerful than Fukishima. So we all know 2.4 km safety range is for political expediency.

        I’d imagine the area around most nuclear power plants are set up based on local politics. Did Musk go about and find those political numbers or did he do something else?

      • Ronald Brakels

        At mid to low lattitudes a square kilometer of land can receive a gigawatt of sunshine at around noon. sunshine.

        • Ivor O’Connor

          Musk is doing his calculations based on one square kilometer equals one gigawatt of power. So you say he is comparing capacities and not energy?

          Also it seems he is using a radius of 5 kilometers out from the plant. So 78.5 gigawatt per site.

          Or with Fukushima 3.14*30*30 (2,826 gigawatts), or if we used the 80 km radius recommended to them by the USA it would be 3.14*80*80 (20,096 gigawatts). I bet that is all the PV needed to power Japan forever.

          Something is not right.

        • Mike333

          Because of the mining, etc, Nuclear Plants don’t go carbon neutral until year 11.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Unless they suck up CO2 and sequester it I don’t think they ever go carbon neutral. I suppose one could offset the carbon emissions from concrete production, steel manufacturing, uranum mining and refining, etc. and build a nuclear power plant that is carbon neutral, at least in the accounting sense.

          • Mike333

            I don’t think the waste is accounted for, but supposedly the build and mining will eventually be carbon neutral after year 11.

        • vensonata

          Speaking of Supervillain Lairs. The Bruce Nuclear power plant in Ontario Canada, supposed to be the largest in the world at 6 gw. Requires a police security force the same size as a city of 100,000 people. This came in after 9/11. That must make for a hefty operating budget.

          • Ronald Brakels

            That’s only like 200 officers at $80,000 a year. So about $16 million annually just for salaries before operating budget. But this expense is entirely uneccessary. Just remove environmental regulations and the radiation will deter intruders while mutating locals into mole people who will worship the reactors as gods and provide free security.

    • EVcine

      Nuke plants are insane. They take 15 to 20 years to come fully on-line after politicians promise less than 10 years if they say they will cost 8 Billion they will cost 20 Billion (inc corruption) then when the tsunami or a kamikaze private plane (ex nuke employee having a bad day) hits the MF you are totally F*C*ED !!
      Solar and geothermal, with TESLA ENERGY Powerpacks is fully up and running in weeks at a fraction of the cost. Solar in days and hours.

    • I actually added a summary of that into the article. “He also makes the point that, if you include the clear area around a nuclear power plant, as it typically has to be today, solar power (panels spread across that area) can actually generate more electricity than nuclear in that space.”

      He has talked about it before, and I think with many more details. Maybe at that Norway oil & gas summit? I forget.

    • vensonata

      In the tropics, 1gw of pv would require 4 sq miles. Can be twice that in northern countries. Exclusion zone nuclear might average 6 sq miles. or even 8. So about right but different capacity factors.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Those numbers are way off from what Musk quotes. At 18:46 Musk says it is 1 gw per square kilometer. 4 sq miles would be 10 sq kilometers!!!

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