What if you never had to pay another utility bill for the rest of your life? What if, instead of dishing-out for oil, gas, or electric every month, you got paid for the surplus energy you created instead? It could be a reality sooner than we think if bad-boy Elon Musk has his way.
Musk hit it out of the park in his twenties selling a software company for millions and millions. And unlike, say, me, who would probably just travel and become a high-end culture whore, Musk decided to take his earnings and tinker on a few other projects you may have heard of like Paypal and Tesla Motors, which made a premium electric car so mighty you’d swear you were behind the wheel of a twelve cylinder gas guzzler. He has also assured the world he’d put a man on Mars in less than a decade through another small thinking company called SpaceX. Even in light of their recent failed rocket launch, and the fact that his competition sees him as a techno-fascist tyrant, one has to admire the vision.
In the event you weren’t feeling under-accomplished enough, Musk’s latest venture hopes to lease solar panels and storage batteries to every home on earth. SolarCity is a concept that links all of his previous visions into a grand plan with eerie clarity.
In short, our little blue planet here is orbiting around a giant nuclear reactor 93 million miles better known as the Sun. It never stops running, which is a nice bonus for an energy source, it won’t hit empty for a few billions years, and we don’t have to drill or frack or pay anything for it. Yes, it’s all free (for now.)
Power your home via affordable panels, store the surplus in long term batteries, charge your electric car, and everything else in your life with it, sell your surplus back into the grid, or buy extra, if you need it to make up the difference. All without emitting a single molecule of carbon. Musk is promising to transmogrify the “entire energy infrastructure of the world” and the needle is moving WAY faster than anyone thought.
There are multiple uber-wealthy entrepreneurs out there, but few want to change the system they’ve worked so hard to master. Musk is for disruption on a grand scale and he’s assembled a cadre of talented acolytes to help him lead the charge into Silicon Valley’s solar gold rush.
But Musk rhymes with brusque, and Elon’s critics, like those of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and so many others in the quirky-genius category, love to rail against his pathological passion. Here is a man so egocentrically inspired, he has not problem relentlessly over working his employees and then discarding them without the slightest hesitation or credit for the efforts. He’s not exactly a people person, which becomes a rather serious issue in the larger scheme of helping people live more efficient lives.
Musk’s most daunting challenges have little to do with perfecting the efficiencies of his innovations. Rather, they come in the political chess match played daily in that small but odoriferous area known as the District of Columbia.
Our proud nation has amassed a rather tragic history of crushing great innovations to keep the status quo intact. How the auto-industry destroyed California’s comprehensive rail system (designed by Walt Disney) is almost as sinister and mind blowing as how Big Oil killed the first electric car. It’s disgraceful and it’s set to happen again with solar energy, unless “the market” can win the day.
If Washington realizes it can get rich divesting from fossil fuels and investing in solar a little bit ahead of the curve (which means now) maybe we have a chance to limit, if not all together eliminate our wildly escalating carbon footprint.
Maybe the time is right. The capitol is currently under construction. Why not have it be symbolically, as well. Let’s take a cue from someone with a plan that sees into the future a little further than the next election cycle. If anyone has the vision, track record and unbridled ambition, it’s Musk. He just might need to invent something to wade through Washington’s torpid marshlands first.