Could you meet the United States entirely from solar energy? Sure, claims tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The Tesla CEO, whose company provides solar panel solutions like the Solar Roof, shared a video via Twitter on Saturday of the electricity-generating tiles taking a beating from a hammer. One fan responded to Musk’s video with a 2011 quote from Bill Gates, who described solar and similar technologies as “cute,” but that the answer is in nuclear power.
Musk hit back at the quote by describing Gates’ assertion as “def wrong.”
He’s def wrong. Solar power is a Gigawatt per square km! All you need is a 100 by 100 mile patch in a deserted corner of Arizona, Texas or Utah (or anywhere) to more than power the entire USA.
It’s a revival of an idea Musk has shared several times, that enough solar panels could power the entire United States. It’s an idea he shared in 2015, and reiterated in 2017.
“The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile,” Musk said in 2017. He continued that 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 plan itself is clearly a flawed idea — collecting and storing electricity in one small patch of land is just a storm away from knocking the entire country offline — but it illustrates a more realistic proposal that people can meet their electricity demands from zero-emissions sources.