Elon Musk made an appearance at the PG&E Innovation Summit. He talked about the great need for more future energy, people in space, and what is overrated. He also revealed his motivation for Tesla electric cars. He appeared via video teleconferencing from Italy.
He was aked by PG&E CEO Patricia Poppe, “What did you believe was possible that no one else believed?”
Musk answered: “I would say electric vehicles and reusable rockets. I think most people did not think that that would happen. And the only reason that battery cars did not take off was range. Then when you have something with the high energy density like lithium-ion, you have range that matches people’s needs. Then there’s really no need for a gasoline car.”
Why Did Musk Want Electric Cars?
Musk noted that many thought he was interested in electric vehicles for the environmental benefit. His concern was that the world will run out of hydrocarbons. He believed “we needed something to continue civilization independent of environmental issues.”
He says that the world is moving toward an electric future, and towards a sustainable future. He is encouraged on that front. He thinks it’s going to happen. It is happening. But if it were happening faster, that would be good.
Don’t Kill Gas–Yet
He says he does not favor vilifying the oil and gas industry. We still obviously need oil in order to force opposition functions. We should be transitioning to sustainable energy as quickly as we reasonably can.
How is the Role of the Grid is in Important in the Future?
If one looks at total energy consumption globally, in very rough terms, only about a third of it is electricity. Then a third of it is, is burned for transport with hydrocarbons, aircraft, boats, cars, and transportation. And then a third of it is for heating. So even if you assume that electricity demand is static, in order to transition to a sustainable energy future where everything is electric and sustainably electric, we need a tripling of electrical output.
“So you can mark my words here electrical output will triple,” said Musk.
How Would Musk Increase Grid Power?
The way the grids have been constructed to match peak demand, there’s excess capacity if you run the plants 24 hours a day. It might be as much as twice a gain on it, but it could be a 50 to 100% increase in total energy output. If power plants are run 24/7 versus just matching consumer demand. Obviously, the reason for that is there hasn’t been, in most cases, ways to buffer energy. Stationary battery packs, like the Tesla Mega Pack, enable energy buffering. You can run the power plant at its max power output, fill up the battery pack, and use it as needed. So this effectively gives a far greater upward potential for the existing electricity generation.
He summed it up this way, “The magnitude of the energy problem that lies ahead is absolutely enormous.”
Why Battery Buffering is Needed
Musk thinks battery buffering is needed at the power plant and heavy industry utility levels. Then there’s also an energy buffering that is useful at the endpoint at the consumer’s home and for the individual business.
The amount of energy consumed has increased over time per person.
His friend “thinks that we may end up at some point, if the trend continues, better might end up being like a terawatt per person.”
So basically, what they’re saying is we need to tackle this from all angles. So that how we’ll look at is some amount of local solar power.
There will be price pressure on electricity due to increased demand there could be pricing pressure. The good news is with batteries at scale, like Mega Pack or gigawatt hour class battery packs or the summation of users’ homes with PowerWalls collaborating to buffer the power. Buffering power is essential in increasing total electricity availability, especially with renewables with wind and solar.
Solar Has Big Potential
He predicts that long term, most electricity will be generated with solar and wind with battery storage.
Musk is Worried About AI
Musk is worried about AI. With digital superintelligence, things can go wrong. Potentially, He thinks, “We need to be very careful with it. We should have a right to be sure of regulatory oversight. Because it is a potential danger to the public,”
Praise for Partnership with PG&E
Musk praised PG&E’s productive projects, big battery installations and the PowerWall backup switch that disconnects from the grid if the grid is down or in danger.
What is the Future of Space Travel & Sustainability?
Musk is excited about the future. He finds it exciting to have humanity back on the moon and Mars as a space-faring civilization.
The future looks bright. Musk said, “I think we are moving towards sustainability. It will be a lot more comfortable as we do a sustainable energy future. “
Elon Musk’s Big Laugh Moment
When asked what is overrated. He said, “Me, I’m overrated.”