Long story short, bought a Tesla S from Tesla, a outlet installation from SolarCity and now have also signed up for 8.8Kw solar panel system for my house.
The vertical integration of his investments is awesome. I just hope he somehow integrates in SpaceX ... maybe solar microwave power from orbit?
I didn't know about the home Solar leases, that makes it more of a shame about the disconnect in customer service because I would have liked to investigate that option.
EDIT: Just tried to fill out their form for solar consultation and got an e-mail that they don't have service in my area. Maybe that was why they didn't get back to me.
Having tied sales that drops the ball for an essential component ('B') of service 'A' because they can't sell you component 'C' is terrible.
At a minimum Tesla should know where SolarCity has installers or SolarCity should pass you on to a competitor that does serve your area.
More here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/how-to/blog/elon-musk-on-spa...
But I don't think his objection is using solar power for space-based infrastructure. Quite the contrary! (Dragon is solar-powered, but could fairly easily do everything except maybe long-duration Dragonlab missions on batteries if Elon really didn't like solar). I think the objection is to the complexities and transmission losses of beaming orbital solar power back to Earth.
Of course, if you start moving your energy-intensive industries out of the gravity well...
I mean, say you have a satellite in orbit with a ton of nice depleted uranium or tungsten rods to skewer things with. Standard "spears from heaven" setup or whatever.
It can't just "drop" them, if it lets go they will just stay in orbit. No, it has to fire them 'backwards' fast enough for the rod to deorbit itself and then the satellite has to apply some orbit correcting thrust. In order to keep it accurate you basically need to construct a full reentry vehicle around the thing, both to guide it through the atmosphere and to just rocket it away from the satellite fast enough and accurate enough. Before you know it your DU spear becomes so complex that you may as well just make a proper MIRV system with real warheads out of it and be done with it. Get the most bang for your buck that way.
Seems like half the cars on the road are SUVs, so that should be big enough.
To be green and to save money you need money to buy an electric car, charger and solar panels to save money and be green.
And it you get a breadmaking machine then I would argue that it's likely to be less environmentally friendly: a small oven is less efficient than a large one; plus the resources to make an electronic item vs centralised distribution.
I really don't see how making your own bread can be argued to be both environmentally friendly and cheaper, but am happy to be enlightened
But the point I'm most interested in discussing is the idea of maximizing the economic value of your time. In some cases this can be a useful heuristic, but the trick is knowing where and where not to apply it. If you were to apply that line of reasoning to every moment of your life, I doubt that the results would be satisfactory. Personally I'm more of a Gross National Happiness type. Of course, you're welcome to prove me wrong too :)
And if the energy to heat your oven comes from a clean source, you are good.
In most American places, it's illegal to build sufficiently dense housing to make it plausible for most people to live within walking or biking distance of their place of work (see Matt Yglesias's book The Rent is Too Damn High for more on this subject). While I agree with your point about not living 40 miles from your workplace, it's simply not possible in most of the U.S. for most people to commute by a means other than cars.
Perhaps road funding should only be paid out of gas and car taxes, and the federal government should stop subsidizing people's choices with other people's money, and then perhaps more people would choose to live closer to work.
Can you believe that in Germany you even get a tax rebate for living further away from work?
That's pretty funny since recently here in south eastern Canada we're being reamed up the ass by our current federal government for lack of jobs.
The government is demanding people find work even if it is an hour away which would be roughly 100km (62 miles).
Peddling to work takes longer. But I get exercise. The cave man diet takes quite a bit of effort. But it tastes damned good, is quality time with friends and family, keeps my money in the local economy (farmers markets vs big box grocers) and improves my health.
It just depends what a person chooses to optimize in their lives. When I was working more, it was not feasible to do the cave man diet or home remodeling.
For me it's actually faster. Due to heavy traffic at rush hours.
How do you like your Model S so far? Does it meet your expectations?
All of these things got better, of course, and at an impressive rate. Tesla seems to be on the same path, thankfully.
486s were fantastic machines on Day One in all respects except price. I don't know where s/he got the idea they weren't. The original IBM AT I didn't have direct experience with.
I was (and am) fine with no physical keyboard, but omitting a GPS chip was just plain goofy, considering how nice the Maps application was. Others were complaining about the first iPhone's lack of cut and paste functionality relative to some other phones, the inability to replace the battery or add external storage, the inability to use third-party applications, and the substandard camera.
Bug-wise, if you could get Safari to avoid crashing back to the desktop for more than 30 seconds at a time, you were way ahead of me.
All of this stuff got better in the next generation. It was Apple's dedication to fixing the phone's shortcomings that really made me a dedicated iPhone user.
I also bought a 1st gen iPod touch on the week it was released and never had any serious issues with Safari other than browser compatibility.
OK, I will stop digressing. This is not a thread about iPhone.
I know which I'd rather have.
If it weren't for the maintenance costs and the fuel consumption I'd happily trade my golf for a 911. I'm pretty sure we'd also have the first Porsche with a towing hook for the trailer full of stuff we normally carry along ;)
Are you paying for it outright or on a plan where you pay based on electricity generated?
How much power does it generate in a day? Will be enough to fully charge a Telsa?
(Thats not saying you couldn't charge the car through your solar panels in a pressing case of zombie apocalypse. Inverters for home solar installations output the same AC power as a normal power outlet)
You will have to have a lock-out installed that needs to be engaged before island mode will work if you are normally grid-tied. To avoid you hurting people or trying to power the nation in case of a black-out.
While generally HN users are open minded, no small number have derided the notion that others (perhaps far less capable than Musk), are capable of having a meaningful vision.
Of course having a justified belief and plan is a different approach to the lean startup philosophy. Lean effectively aligns more with the randomness worldview and iteration with an impartiality (or even celebration in some cases) of failure. Whereas OTOH, the visionary approach usually has more confidence in a self-directed path.
Those with this visionary quality (in varying levels of ability), can arrogantly dismiss others too, with behavior that is equally cringe worthy. Moreover, it would be hard to objectively and meaningfully argue either approach is universally "better".
However, perhaps the most significant indiscretion, is not in picking a side that works for you, but rather failing to see that two sides exist at all.
I agree that Elon's results with Tesla and Space X are not principally (or even much) based on luck, but this is (at least in part) because he has the resources to finance his visions directly and can use his tech-celebrity status to help bring them to fruition.
How did he get into this enviable position? It's largely due to the sale PayPal to eBay, of course—and, as those in the know will tell you, luck was a big factor in PayPal's success.
That's not to say that Musk wasn't directed and didn't capitalize exceptionally well on his successes. But luck most definitely played a role.
The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me)
From 2006. Nice to know they are still sticking with it :-)
The New Power Play
The Investor: Elon Musk, co-founder, PayPal
What he's backed: SpaceX, Tesla Motors
What he wants now: As Musk's two most recent investments - in a space rocket and an all-electric sports car - suggest, the 35-year-old entrepreneur likes to think big. So he's intrigued by the promise of a next-generation battery called an ultracapacitor, capable of powering everything from cars to tractors. Unlike chemical batteries, ultracapacitors store energy as an electrical field between a pair of conducting plates. Theoretically, they can be charged in less than a second rather than hours, be recharged repeatedly without sacrificing performance, and far outlast anything now on the market.
"I am convinced that the long-term solution to our energy needs lies with capacitors," Musk says. "You can't beat them for power, and they kick ass on any chemical battery."
Musk would know: He was doing Ph.D. work at Stanford on high-energy capacitors before he helped get PayPal off the ground. At least one startup, EEStor in Texas, and a larger company, Maxwell Technologies in California, are working on ultracapacitors. Yet Musk believes a university-based research group has an equal shot at a commercial breakthrough, since universities are where the most promising research is bubbling up. "The challenge is one of materials science, not money," Musk says.
The team to pull this off, he says, would need expertise in materials science, applied physics, and manufacturing. Musk wants to see a prototype that can power something small, like a boom box. "Make one and show me that it works," Musk says. "Then tell me what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed."
What he'll invest: $4 million over two years for a working prototype
Send your pitch to: email@example.com. -- M.V.C.
Tesla cars so far have definitely been luxury cars. If they keep going downmarket into the mainstream, I wonder if they'll want to create a separate brand for their mainstream stuff, a la acura/honda, toyota/lexus, and infiniti/nissan.
If they do, the low-end brand should be "Edison".
(I'm aware of the basic pros and cons of both. I'm really just looking for Musk's thinking.)
On the risk that you already considered all of these, here are some reasons I can think of:
http://www.withouthotair.com/c4/page_32.shtml gives 2W/m^2 for wind and http://www.withouthotair.com/c6/page_39.shtml gives 22W/m^2 for photovoltaic.
Yes, there are places where you can get much more energy from wind per m^2, but you can get that photovoltaic output almost everywhere.
It also is easier to start a solar business than one based on wind power. With solar, you can start small and scale up. With wind, you almost have to start with huge structures, as they have better ROI (higher = faster wind = way more energy). Building such larger structures means that you no longer operate in the B2C market. He may not like that.
Also, he may not like having to spend effort and time getting building permission for those structures.
He may also think photovoltaics will get cheaper faster than wind.
Finally, it might be just a personal preference. To me, wind has more of a blue collar feel than photovoltaics (someone will get his hands greasy operating a wind farm). That does not make me dislike it, but might have swung the choice for him.
This is a misleading number for my point that wind is denser than solar. For solar, the 22W/m^2 is spread out evenly an area, and you must put something (either photovoltaic or a mirror) to collect it. For wind, you only need a single turbine to effectively cover a relatively large area. The density number comes from the fact that, by virtue of how winds are generated and blow, you can't just stick a second turbine right next to the first one. From a cost per kWh perspective, the important number is more like the number of watts generated by single turbine with a 1 meter x 1 meter footprint.
That 10MW wind turbine on your 10,000m^2 of land will only get to that output by using wind blowing into it from other land.
So, if your neighbor builds another such turbine on his land, your output will drop.
So, you will have to pay your neighbors for not building such a turbine on their land. In that sense, you really need that area to get that output.
Having said that, ROI of wind turbines seems to be way better than that for photovoltaics, in almost every aspect. https://sites.google.com/site/anatomyofglobalclimatechangevj..., for example, gives you about 6 months to recover the energy investment of building a wind mill and 3 years for photovoltaics.
This is not an important effect. The optimal spacing for wind turbines is 5-15 times the rotor diameter, and the largest turbines are 75ft in diameter, giving a largest spacing of roughly ~ 1/4 mi. In the rare cases that this is an issue, property liens can handle the conflict.
Also, the effect is important. At 1/4 mile distance, you can only place about 20 or so on a square mile of land. Looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_turbine#Horizontal_axis_wi..., that gives you less than 18MW peak power.
That same square mile has 2M plus m^2. So, you would need only 10W per m^2 peak solar power to beat that wind turbine.
Yes, there is lots of hand waiving here. For example, I am assuming equal duty cycle; that will vary with location. The crux still is that there is way less wind power than solar per m^2.
The most obvious disadvantage is that energy collection ability drops sharply on clouded days and it relies entirely on clear skies.
- Use simple materials, not a bunch of rare earth metals that the USA doesn't have
- Will last as long as you maintain them (to my knowledge) unlike solar panels
- Have better efficiency compared to solar panels
You are right that they are not as "simple" as slapping a panel on a flat surface and wiring it up. Clearly, they are not suited for installation on houses. However, power plants have always used more sophisticated systems because they can handle the tradeoffs to reap the rewards.
Are you sure a thermal solar installation will last as long as photovoltaics? Any plant with the efficiency gains you describe has gimballing mirrors, highly thermally cycled metals, steam circuits, and freakin' turbines among other mechanical contraptions all over the place. I see a whole lot of disadvantages compared to a completely solid-state, arbitrarily scalable panel that lasts (conservatively) 50 years.
I realize some places might get really neat solutions out of thermal solar, but I just don't see how it's anything more than a niche. By contrast, photovoltaics have the prerequisites to take over the entire market from the bottom up. They are our future.
I'm curious where you are getting this "conservative" estimate of 50 years. I typically hear 20 years, 40 years tops.
photovoltaics might be the future, but they aren't the today as best I can tell. They are inefficient, and much like the Prius batteries people like to talk about, are pretty environment-unfriendly to manufacture.
Also, while thermal electric plants may be more efficient at large scale, I'm not sure how that works at small scale, or if there is a difference in how much capacity they lose in cloudy weather compared to photovoltaics. Actually, I wonder what the ratio of installed photovoltaics to thermals is per region and generator scale.
You are incorrect in stating that most things use the sun for energy. In fact, everything uses solar energy in one way or another.
Edit: I guess you could throw tidal in there as well.
Well, you could say the supernova that created our radioactive heavy elements billions of years ago were once "suns". But that power didn't come from our sun.
He also owns a rocket company. Coincidence?
He's thinking so long term, he's planning to corner the market on space-based solar after he's converted the world to run on electric power.
I just easily see the entire planet being powered by some terrestrial satellite grid of solar panels in a few centuries. Capture it in space, transport it to surface via a space elevator or something, maximum efficiency. Would probably also slow global warming since significantly less heat by that point would be reaching the surface (given the size of an artificial ring belt of solar panels we would need to run everything by then!)
If solar improves enough, the capital increments become people going to home depot to buy a 1 kW panel.
Long term, climate management will be necessary regardless.
Without more info, I really don't think it's clear cut.
If you look at the Netherlands, for example, you'll see that the way they've always used wind power is for pumping water (draining the polders). And there it doesn't much matter what the instantaneous amount of wind power available is, or even if the windmills are stagnant for a while. All that matters is that over a long period of time you end up with around the same amount of average power produced, and that's what wind power is good at. Potentially it would make sense to use wind turbines for powering specific sorts of activities that didn't rely on low latency of power production and could be automated (perhaps water desalination, for example). But using it as base power is a far more troublesome prospect than using solar.
Do you have a reference you could link me to?
Also, any reason to think this can't be solved by pumped-storage hydroelectricity?
The world uses ~2,000 GW and has ~100 GW of PSH capacity. Scaling up by a factor of 20 would be expensive because the low hanging fruit has been taken, but it really doesn't seem that bad if it means our base generators are half (or less) as expensive. See, for example, this take in Scientific American:
Hell, even storing it in batteries isn't that expensive:
($44 million for 36 MW, which is added to the typical costs of wind turbines of ~$2 million per MW.)
Something along the lines of 1 or 2 all the energy ever consumed by humans since forevers per second.
A Model S for $45K? Where do I sign? The average selling price of a Model S is probably more like $90K.
The Model S Performance starts at $87,400. However, this is a very special top-of-the-line car, comparable to an AMG or M model from Mercedes or BMW respectively. This is definitely not the average car or the average price.
Of course, just like its German rivals, the price does go up with some options. But if you just want a nice electric car, the options are, well, optional. (Although I wouldn't pass up the tech package if I could afford it :P.)
And it's not like the standard equipment is weak--the well-publicized gigantic touchscreen comes standard, for example.
Anyhow, basically you can get one for a bit over $50k; the price only goes up if you want a longer range and some nice options.
$52,000 now was worth $45,658.39 in 2006.
I was using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index
The car has a built in charger that can add 31 miles of range per hour off a standard 240V outlet. The base model has 160 miles of range, so a charge all the way from zero to full should only take a little over 5 hours. Seems reasonable enough to me.
During the first few months, reservation holders who planned to purchase a 40 KWh car were told they would need to wait longer.
That situation would drive the average selling price upward. Once the manufacture of the 40 KWh cars starts (and perhaps it has already started), and once the relatively wealthy early adopters have purchased their well-equipped models, the average selling price should trend downward.
On day one of iPhone 6 availability, are more 64 GB or 32 GB models going to be sold? 64 GB obviously. Microsoft was correctly criticized for not understanding that most Surface Pro early adopters wanted the 128 GB model.
Similarly, if you see a Model S on the road today (and I've seen about 15 so far here in Los Angeles) odds are very good it will be a Performance-spec car. Around 10 of the 15 I've seen have been Performance. And when the Mercedes W212 E-Class hit the streets, if I recall correctly the very first one I saw in the wild was an E63. Early adopters buy top-of-the-line.
The price of a Roadster was $109K when introduced in 2008.
Above statement is mostly true in state of California where natural gas generates one third of its total power (source: http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/total_system_power.h...)
Not so true national wide. According to US Energy Administration, the energy sources and percent share of total for electricity generation in 2011. Note the the combined renewable energy sources is below 10% still in 2011.
• Coal 42%
• Natural Gas 25%
• Nuclear 19%
• Hydropower 8%
• Other Renewable 5%
• Biomass 1.38%
• Geothermal 0.41%
• Solar 0.04%
• Wind 2.92%
• Petroleum 1%
• Other Gases < 1%
Coal is still the king.
The lower third of the United States, particularly the southwest, could migrate toward a more solar-based economy today, economically, without the red tape or regulation around handling radioactive fuel.
It isn't as ambitious or forward-thinking, but it is also vastly easier to get started.
You get over 1000W/m2 of sun radiation so you could get over 400W/m2.
probably it does not look like much but given that plants are 1% efficient, and most radiation escapes earth it really is. You could absorb sun's energy and then use that energy to grow plants!! in a much more efficient way(inside buildings, under the surface).
I am interested, however, in how this reconciles with the Innovator's Dilemma. He's starting at the top of the market and working his way down.
My possible explanation (assuming he will be successful) is:
There isn't enough of an existing market to be disrupted for the Innovator's Dilemma to apply. What I would be worried about here is the other electric cars that ARE on the market are on the lower end (comparatively. The Leaf is $23,000 vs Tesla @ $52,000).
Nissan is working on using cheaper tech, and then will find ways to improve that cheaper tech versus Tesla using expensive tech and finding ways to make it cheaper.
It says that you have to start with a new market - i.e a set of people who want to buy your product who are different fundamentally from the existing market.
Plenty of innovations are rolled out starting at the high end. An obvious example is the iPhone (which changed the smartphone market from business/hobbiest to consumer, and which began doing that with rich consumers).
Another way of looking at it... New things can be relatively expensive within their new market - the first PCs were very expensive, they just happened to be cheap compared to Minicomputers. From a product side, they looked like cheap, crap computers. From the market side, they had a totally different market (e.g. individual finance professionals, rather than large corporations).
It's natural as a geek to look just at products. You have to look at both products and markets - they are not just both important, they are the same thing (http://www.flourish.org/blog/?p=371).
Tesla's product is electric cars. It's market is people who want:
a) To not have to recharge every day on their commute.
b) To have more accessible storage space.
c) To have cheap power when gas finally gets more expensive than electricity/batteries
Short term they have been bootstrapping that using a market of people who have longer term motivations (concern about climate change or an energy crisis) which will later go mainstream in the form of c).
It's very very smart.
Xprise 100 mpg winner seriously considered EV but won with
Gas engine. Where's the discrepancy?
At least Germany is a good case study in the feasibility
Of a solar electric infrastructure. I thought diesel/ hybrid is best bet but it's good musk is here pushing the envelope.
Audi is said to be working on a production vehicle, an hybrid, with 260mpg efficiency, but we'll have to wait a little bit to see if it becomes real: http://www.roadandtrack.com/future-cars/spy-shots/caught-tes...
Also, that article is from the year 2000. Muller's changed his mind about a number of things. He has a lot of talks on YouTube ("Physics For Future Presidents" is a fun one to listen to in the background) and I don't remember him promoting hydrogen cars.
Batteries don't transmute. Lead is still lead. Lithium is still lithium. Batteries are about the most perfect recycling case: mass produced, made to exact specifications from very few compounds, easily separated, and are just the right things to turn back into batteries and sell!
Missouri's last lead mine is closing because lead from recycling batteries is so cheap it doesn't pay to mine new lead unless you are also getting some silver or copper and their remaining lead veins are unfortunately too pure.
So electric car batteries get used in cars until their capacity is diminished to an uncomfortable level, then they go serve as stationary storage where the energy density requirement is less demanding for a few more years until they are too worn for even that, at which point they get sold to the recycler and turn into new batteries for cars.
He omits the dramatic difference in internal combustion efficiency vs. electrical motors, identifies that electric doesn't mean zero emission because of generation sources, but then declares hydrogen to be the hope of zero emission.
Your summary also misses that it is the density of the energy storage that is about a factor of 40, not the system as a whole.
Should I be buying lithium now to sell it later?
Elon explains the master plan himself.
It's hard to say anything negative about Elon or Tesla here without getting down-voted.