The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, spoke to more than thirty state governors at the 2017 National Governors Association meeting on how much real-estate is required to ensure the United States runs entirely on solar energy.
Inverse reports that Musk laid out his vision for renewable energy that relies on capturing power from the sun via solar panels to fill the enormous demand for energy in the areas of transportation, electricity, and heating.
He also noted that only about ten percent of the energy in the USA is renewable.
“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,” Musk said during his keynote conversation on Saturday at the event in Rhode Island.
“The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile.”
It’s “a little square on the U.S. map, and then there’s a little pixel inside there and that’s the size of the battery park that you need to support that. Real tiny.”
“The Earth is almost entirely solar-powered today, in the sense that the sun is the only thing that keeps us from being at the temperature of cosmic background radiation, which is 3 degrees above absolute-zero,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the sun, we’d be a frozen, dark ice ball. The amount of energy that reaches us from the sun is tremendous. It’s the 99 percent-plus of all energy that Earth has.”
After all the sun’s a mind-bogglingly big energy ball, anyway: “People talk about fusion and all that, but the sun is a giant fusion reactor in the sky. It’s really reliable. It comes up every day. If it doesn’t we’ve got bigger problems.”
“There’s an unpriced externality in the cost of fossil fuels,” Musk said.
“The unpriced externality is the probability-weighted harm of changing the chemical constituency of the atmosphere and oceans. Since it is not captured in the price of gasoline, it does not drive the right behavior. It’d be like if tossing out the garbage was just free and there was no penalty and you could do as much as you want. The streets would be full of garbage. We’ve regulated a lot of other things like sulfur emissions and nitrous oxide emissions, it’s done a lot of good on that front.”