The real revolution is Tesla + Solarcity

Using solar energy to move the world.

There are so many articles around Tesla and Elon Musk that your mouse wheel could run for miles scrolling them. So this one will be fairly short, nothing really new for you Tesla geeks, and an highlight of the great but huge WaitButWhy blogpost. But it’s worth saying again.

After the Model 3 unveiling, everyone other person in the globe knows about Tesla and the revolution of electric cars. I live in Italy, in a medium-sized town, and yesterday, in a suburbian bar, two old folks were discussing about Model 3, from an article of the local newspaper. The word is spreading fast ans wide.

But this is not really what excites me. The plan for affordable but very good electric cars, amazing as it is, it’s just the beginning.

What really, really excites me is the combination of Tesla and SolarCity.

Think about it.

One of the problems that Musk wanted to solve from the start was climate change. He’s really into preserving humanity; you know, one of those guys. He thus created Tesla, SpaceX (for making humanity “multiplanetary”) and SolarCity.

Tesla is an amazing company producing not only cars, but also batteries, as the Powerwall and Powerpacks.

The Powerwall is a battery for your home: it recharges when your solar panels produce more energy than you are consuming. It can be used for everything: many people will use it at night to recharge their Tesla with the energy stored during the day.

But, even more interesting, is the Powerpack. An industrial version of the powerwall, but infinitely scalable. You just join them like Lego bricks.

They said it themselves:

Tesla is not just an automotive company, it’s an energy innovation company.

SolarCity, on the other hand, it’s in the energy creation business. Combined, they are truly an energy revolution. Probably the best shot we have to actually fight climate change.

Because there is another thing they are trying to do very hard: mass production, which means lowering prices, now.

Technology revolutions don’t just happen when a revolutionary prototype is made in a R&D laboratory: they happen when the revolutionary product is cheap enough for people to buy it. The revolution of computer was not the invention of the transistor: was the cost of the transistor dropping, allowing companies to create chips, which eventually made us able to create computers. In the end, we had affordable computers, for the people.

Tesla and Solarcity are both laser focused in building two huge factories, both for batteries and solar panels: there is the most famous Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, but there is also the SolarCity Gigafactory in Buffalo.

Solarcity Gigafactory

They are not waiting for the next-generation batteries: they want the price to drop now. They will leave all their patents open, for other companies to follow.

So, the plan is fairly simple.

Build an awesome set of cars, one more affordable than the other. Build a superfactory for batteries. Build a superfactory for solar panels. Make prices low enough to be affordable for many many people. Open patents. Repeat.

Powerwalls will mean people going really off-grid. Tesla cars with portable solar panels could mean people travelling and bringing energy with them, for everything they need. The future could give us self-powered ambulances in Africa, for what we know. We could have a decentralized, mobile energy grid. We could have homes, business, factories, utilities becoming carbon neutral in very few years.

So, in the end, what Musk is really trying to do is disrupting the whole energy sector. Everything. With few products, crystal clear ideas, amazing execution. Talk about vision.

Digital librarian, former president of Wikimedia Italia. I work with books and metadata.

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