Elon shining through here.
There is little doubt that SolarCity will be a huge deal.
Looks like it would take less than 1% of the land area of the earth to satisfy the electricity consumption of humanity many times over:
It doesn't seem like much of a leap to propose covering 1% of the world with buildings or roads or farms, so solar panels should seem the same.
If you plug in a more reasonable value for watts (efficiency, night), it's still tens of thousands of square kilometers, not millions.
PS: Most homes can meet there total energy needs and have room left on there roof which says something about energy density.
Anyway, Solar is actually great for home heating and hot water needs and solar hot water is generally more cost effective to install than rooftop eletric solar. Oddly enough installing solar pool heaters are cheap and fairly common even though they cover a fairly small window over the course of a year.
PS: Rooftop solar ~20% efficient rooftop home heating ~90% efficient.
Maybe, as with the Gigafactory, he sees an opportunity here.
Here is Elon saying making solar panels is a bad idea:
Perhaps the Silveo technology convinced him that solar cells are not always commodity. And then he went with his usual instinct.
Add to that that Musk is going to own battery component of the solar systems as well.
I can't find easily the price/W, but assuming they can produce panels at similar cost that's going to be huge.
The maximum theoretical efficiency of solar panels is about 85% of incident sunlight based on the physics of the photoelectric effect. I've been learning about efficiency and cost, and was told recently that many large-scale installations in unsecured location use 9% efficient thin-film technology simply due to cost. Having your 20%-40% high-value panels stolen doesn't net you benefit.
And you're still working against other constraints: a maximum insolation at Earth's surface of around 1 kW/m^2, the local insolation rate (great tool from NREL for mapping that within the US: http://maps.nrel.gov/prospector), panel spacing (you net about 55% area fill rate at 36 degrees latitude based on panel angle and avoiding overlap), inverter efficiency (about 90%), capacity factor (amount of time you're receiving full sunlight), and more. By the time you account for all of this, you're down to about 30W of that 1 kW you can actually deliver (time-averaged -- peak is closer to 97W). And if you want to allow for storage, you've got even more losses. Plants start looking pretty effective at 1-3% solar conversion rates, especially when you figure they build themselves at the same time.
More on net solar potential: http://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/28cvgv/calculat...
Nice coup for New York and its rebranding strategy. Doesn't Sanyo have a big facility upstate?
Unfortunately, in all of this, we never see a discussion about individual ownership and transfer of excess SREC's.
There's plenty of space for solar energy all told, on a net-metering or grid basis. Unless you've got an absolutely compelling need to generate the maximum amount of energy from a minimum space and/or weight (say: you're building a satellite or space probe), just seek to keep $/kW as low as possible over the anticipated life of your panels.
With 1GW of solar capacity production in NY by 2017, 50GWh of battery production in the southwest by 2020, Tesla's and SpaceX's manufacturing facilities in CA, Elon's distributed clean generation, storage and transportation empire is concentrated in the USA.
All of these companies are becoming increasingly in control of their supply and distribution channels.
What's next, is Musk going to use SpaceX to mine asteroids for their metals to build increasingly inexpensive clean transportation, batteries and solar hardware back here on earth?
Elon is positioning himself as the provider of plentiful, clean energy generation and storage to the world (not to mention the provider of mobility and space transport). Is it too early to compare him to Rockefeller?
That presupposes nothing can ever be done about the CO2 offset.
>Is it too early to compare him to Rockefeller?
That would be an insult to him. Standard Oil did some of the shadiest anti-competitive stuff that resulted in many of the laws to protect against monopolies today. I assume you've seen the famous octopus drawing? That didn't become popular because people thought Standard Oil was giving a warm hug to society.
The patent release alone shows his intentions are much difference from Rockefeller's.
Right now companies like Uber and Lyft are breaking the law providing their services. If the cabbies win their fight, should the founders of both companies be demonized? You could call what they do shady, and the same goes for Airbnb.
Further, if the daughter of a medallion owner that was put out of business by Uber came to write the definitive biography of Garrett Camp, do you think it would be unbiased?
That's what happened with Rockefeller.
He is credited with creating modern medicinal research (though he detested it himself), and all around, was a highly unique character in history.
Not withstanding him destroying his competition and consolidating the market, with the goal of lowering kerosene (I may have the wrong oil-type here) by 95% as a goal for "giving to the masses."
Still many, many, many despicable acts, but a multi-dimensional man of course.
* While providing abundant new evidence of Rockefeller's misdeeds, Chernow discards the stereotype of the cold-blooded monster to sketch an unforgettably human portrait of a quirky, eccentric original. A devout Baptist and temperance advocate, Rockefeller gave money more generously--his chosen philanthropies included the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of Chicago, and what is today Rockefeller University--than anyone before him. Titan presents a finely nuanced portrait of a fascinating, complex man, synthesizing his public and private lives and disclosing numerous family scandals, tragedies, and misfortunes that have never before come to light.
a) Move carbon-based energy use to renewables
b) If possible, remove CO2 in the atmosphere and storing it in a stable state underground.
Elon is definitely working really fucking hard on the first item. The second item is what I would class as planet-level terraforming, and is going to take more than just Elon (without some sort of additional technological breakthrough).
Also, I was not insulting him by calling him Rockefeller. I was simply saying he's become a titan of industry. You might have a better comparison than I off the cuff.
We already have nanomachines that work in harmony to do this: tree-and-mushroom networks (among other organisms) known as forests. I wish there was something like http://www.treesforthefuture.org/ but commercial that I could invest in.
That was my first thought as well. I went to Wikipedia to make sure I wasn't missing something, and they paint him in a much more neutral light. I suspect the man, company and time period are complex enough that without a very comprehensive book (or a good professor), that simple statements about how good or bad he was will fail to capture the nuance of it all.
(I can imagine Elon in a spice tank, with orange vapours).
(I include the British spelling since he's South African (he's also American and Canadian--do they say vapours in Canada?) Am I off-context enough yet?)
A good HN title is accurate and neutral (the opposite of misleading and linkbait). Rewriting is bad; it's far better to use words that are already there than to make up words of one's own. Taking words out in order to fit the 80-char limit is ok. Editorializing and spin are right out. Faithfulness to the original content (unless it is misleading or linkbait) is paramount. I think that's about it.
It comforts me to see a big announcement with a caveat, because I feel they are trying to be accurate instead of bombastic.
I think the effect a statement like this has on normal people reading is to allow the original article to inform and excite while also containing expectations. It can dampen the more excitable of the populace, as well as those who like to set them off.
In all, regardless of why the statement is there, I think the fact that it is present is a good thing. I wasn't exactly assigning credit to Elon for it (the swipe at critics may have made it seem so), just talking in generalities.