On Saturday July 15, Tesla CEO Elon Musk delivered a keynote speech to the National Governor’s Association on the feasibility of powering the entire United States using solar energy. Musk has been a huge proponent of renewable energy solutions and a primary fixture in the green energy movement. His company, Tesla, is a manufacturer of electric cars and now solar panels.
Through Emilygrene Blog, we have discussed a variety of clean energy options for businesses and residences, including LED retrofit projects, HVACR preventative maintenance, utility rebate programs, green lighting controls, energy efficiency upgrades, and so on. The most readily available solutions for facilities to “go green” have been lighting, controls, and maintenance.
Musk makes an interesting argument for the often sidelined solar option. Solar panels and the additional components required to make even a household self-sufficient are often viewed as “too expensive” or “unrealistic” for anybody besides the largest corporations in the nation. However, based on the proposal laid out by Musk, solar is completely within reach through a combination of solar farms and household solar panels.
According to Musk, “If you wanted to power the entire United States 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. The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile.”
For reference, the United States is currently powered by about 10 percent renewable energy. In Musk’s vision of the near future, the transition to solar energy could unravel in three simple steps, as follows:
- Combine Rooftop Solar Panels and Utility-Sized Solar Plants
- Use Alternative Power Sources During The Transition
- Build Infrastructure and Localize Power
Essentially, American households and businesses could install rooftop solar panels and combine the power generated with utility scale solar where necessary. Utilities would need to provide an excess of energy by utilizing wind, geothermal, hydro, or possibly nuclear to a lesser extent in order to maintain the grid during the transition and installation period. Once sustained, households, businesses, and municipalities will be compelled to continue investing in localized solar power (rooftop units), making each a near independent source of its own renewable energy.
Likely, this is one of many far-fetched plans thrown around since the dawn of the green energy movement just now seeming viable with the advent of new and improved clean energy technology. Opponents such as South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard rebuke the need for extreme measures like Musk’s proposition based on stable and decreasing gasoline prices.
Musk retorts, “They worked really hard to create those companies. They feel like they are being attacked on moral grounds. And it is true that we cannot instantaneously change to a sustainable situation. But then those guys will also fight pretty hard to slow down the change, and that’s really what I think is morally wrong.”
At Emilygrene Corp., we believe in the need to continuously develop clean energy infrastructure. It is our business goal to provide and install technology to businesses and facilities in the hopes of reshaping our communities with green energy. A plan like a solar based grid remains hypothetical but certainly worthy of further discussion. As members of the green energy movement, we are all obligated to understand the possibilities green energy can now turn into realities.
Whether or not this is a moral question to you, or simply a matter of cost savings, or for the sole purpose of uninhibited progress – maybe a combination of all three – we as a green community should be bringing these concepts, ideas, and initiatives to the forefront of the conversation. With several counter opinions prevalent to the push for clean energy, it is proposals like Musk’s that keep us all inspired to continue the fight.