Elon Musk is a divisive character, sometimes seen as the epitome of a god complex, sometimes seen as a visionary. No matter what you think of Musk personally, it's clear that Musk and Tesla really are delivering forward-thinking ideas around clean energy. Here are the top four ideas that Musk and his team have developed into working models of clean energy efficiency.
The Solar Roof
One of the reasons people give for avoiding home solar systems is the look of solar panels. While sleek and black, they do stand out on the roof, making the solar system obvious. With Tesla's new solar roof, the entire roof, front to back and side to side is one big solar collector. Each small shingle pops into place, providing the same protection as a traditional roof but also providing solar energy to your home. The price of a solar roof is still very high, but as competition increases and the technology improves, it's likely that your next roof will be a solar roof.
Solar Battery Arrays
For many years, the only way to make solar work in the home was to have a two-way meter and remain locked into the electrical grid. During the day your solar system might make excess electricity which was sold back to the utility company for a credit against the standard electricity your home would use at night. There just wasn't a good way to hold onto the electricity your home was creating; you had to use it or get rid of it. Enter Tesla's Powerpack, Megapack and Powerwall battery storage solutions.
Tesla solar batteries have made it possible for solar homes to store their own electricity for use at night and during emergencies. While other companies are catching up with the technology, the Tesla batteries can automatically switch your home from the electrical system to a battery backup. You don't even know the power has gone out. The batteries can charge even when they are in use, which is a big step forward from other solar batteries. Like solar roofs, this new technology is still expensive, much more expensive than a traditional solar system, but prices will continue to come down and with Tesla's innovation spurring competition, who knows what new features you'll see in a few years?
Industrial plants have said that renewable energy won't work for manufacturing. Elon Musk proved them wrong. The Tesla Gigafactories, are giant buildings covered in solar panels, but that isn't their only power source. Besides solar, the factories use geothermal heat and wind power to drive their operations. Originally one location in the Nevada desert outside of Sparks, the giant factory worked so well that Tesla has begun several more and other manufacturers, especially car manufacturers, have seen the results and jumped on board with their own plans. It's estimated that Europe will have 16 Gigafactories, from Tesla and other companies, by the end of the decade.
There's no discussing Tesla without looking at its core product, the electric cars. Before Tesla electric cars, the technology seemed moribund. Despite BMW introducing an electric car at the 1972 Summer Olympics, sales were stagnant and the offerings few and far between. GM Saturn brought out an electric car in 1996 but it was available in three states and was only available for lease. The car could only go 100 miles; it didn't have a big audience.
The Toyota Prius may have been the first mass-market electric car, but the Tesla Roadster, and its later models, were the first electric cars with wide appeal. It was the design element that made the cars seem like more than the central joke for an episode of Southpark.
The story of Elon Musk and Tesla is a case lesson in how innovation drives market growth and competition into new fields. Without the vision of Musk and his team, it's unlikely that any of these four items would have had a chance of becoming part of everyday life.
Publish Date: June 27, 2021 3:09 AM