Published on July 19th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley0
Elon Musk Tells Governors About Solar Power & US Gigafactories
July 19th, 2017 by Steve Hanley
Speaking to the National Governors Association summer conference in Rhode Island last week, Elon Musk gave the state solons their money’s worth. He told them that it would be possible to supply every electron needed to keep America humming by covering just 100 square miles with solar panels.
Solar In The US
“If you wanted to power the entire U.S. 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 of solar panels to power the entire United States.”
Of course, some grid storage capability would need to be included. Musk has an answer for that, too. “The batteries you need to store the energy, to make sure you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square mile. That’s it.”
Why is Musk so high on solar? Because it’s there, it’s free, and it reliable. “People talk about fusion and all that, 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,” he joked.
A Blended Approach
Elon said a blend of many power sources would be needed at first. “We’ll need to be 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,” Musk explained.
But he advocated for more local microgrids. “People do not like transmission lines going through their neighborhood, they really don’t like that, and I agree,” Musk said. “Rooftop solar, utility solar — that’s really going to be a solution from the physics standpoint. I can’t really see another way to really do it.”
More US Gigafactories
Musk has been talking about building more battery Gigafactories around the world. He says we will need about 100 of them to meet the emerging needs of renewable power and muses that he hopes he doesn’t have to build them all himself. According to Engadget, he told the governors that two or three of those new factories could be built in the US.
Was Musk trolling the governors, soliciting financial packages that would favor his enterprises? Of course he was. Besides being “wicked smart,” as we say in Rhode Island, he is a consummate business man.
He wrangled a highly favorable deal for the first Gigafactory in Nevada, a deal that no other state would match. Odds are California would like a do-over on those negotiations. Nevada stands to gain a tremendous economic advantage from the deal as Tesla adds hundreds of new jobs every month. Real estate prices in the area are exploding, tax rolls are swelling, and other companies are now looking at locating near the Gigafactory in an area that was little more than barren desert 3 years ago.
Will Governors Respond To The Musk Touch?
Whether any of the governors will take Elon’s words to heart remains to be seen. Only 30 of them bothered to attend. Many Republicans stayed home so they could focus on challenging issues like how to discriminate against Muslims, slash Medicare rolls, promote more fracking on public lands, and prevent transgender people from using public bathrooms. When you are in government, it is important to keep your priorities straight.