May 22, 2015

A Brighter Future is Coming and It’s Cheaper than You Thought.


Tesla’s Elon Musk recently announced that we can now harness the energy of the sun.

If you’re not aware of the main challenge to using the sun’s energy effectively, it’s the fact that the sun doesn’t shine during peak consumption times. Very inconvenient really.

In an inspiring talk—considering he was talking about a battery—Musk shared his vision for a brighter future, literally.

There are three parts to effectively harnessing the sun’s energy. First is the sun, a fusion reactor in the sky that produces ridiculous amounts of free energy. Second is the ability to capture the sun’s energy with solar panels. The third and so far missing part of this equation is batteries, which at the moment, as Musk put it: “suck!” They’re expensive, unreliable, ugly and unscalable.

Musk has been working on the answer and he’s come up with the aptly named Powerwall, a battery pack that works effectively, is scalable and mounts unobtrusively on a wall.

The cost at the moment is around $3,500, so it’s not cheap…yet. But this will make a huge impact when it becomes affordable. And as with cellphones in Africa, whole generations of technology can be skipped in developing countries. No need for power lines or high emissions if this technology becomes mainstream.

Musk believes that transitioning the world’s energy generation, heating and transport to renewable energy would take around 2 billion packs, which is approximately how many cars and trucks have been produced globally. But he won’t be able to do it alone, which is why Musk has made some of the patents open source.

In the first week of sales, customers placed 38,000 orders for the home version and 2,500 reservations for the industrial-sized commercial versions. If you’re worried it will remain too expensive for ubiquitous use, don’t be.

Elon Musk is an exponential entrepreneur. He uses exponential thinking to scale, exponential crowd tools to access capital and he also develops exponentially advancing technology.

Exponential technology follows the 6D growth path:

Digitalization: when new technology becomes easier to make because it becomes information based.

Deception: when it appears not much is happening—think robotics and 3D printing.

Disruption: from which the Powerwall could be huge.

Demonetization: when the money comes out of the equation—comparable to when pixels appeared on film the scene.

Dematerialization: when technology is given freely. Think apps and cameras in cell phones. Fewer people buy stand-alone cameras as a result. The Powerwall might come free with future solar panels.

Democratization: when the cost of technology drops as in cellphones. The cost of solar photovoltaic cells has dropped 65% in the last five years.

It’s said that there are periods where nothing happens in 10 years and then there are periods when everything happens in a year… Maybe this is one of those years.


Author: Stoic Pilgrim

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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