Elon Musk has plans to disrupt the entire energy market and he might just succeed. The SpaceX billionaire wants to make electricity the world’s primary fuel source, and his plan is far more realistic than many critics realize.
Musk hopes to achieve a paradigm shift from fossil fuels to electricity and solar power through what Bloomberg writer Tom Randall has termed “The Grand Unification.” Investors need to take stock of this bold design because it is feasible, the technology to achieve Musk’s dream exists now.
Under Musk’s scheme the Grand Unification will unfold in three phases the first of which is well underway. To better understand it here is an overview of Musk’s plan:
Prove that electric vehicles are a viable, practical and realistic alternative to petrol and diesel-powered autos. That’s already being done at Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA). Musk is not quite there yet but he’s close. Competitors like Ford (NYSE: F) and Volkswagen (OTC: VLKF) certainly believe him they are undertaking their own major investments in EV technology.
Make lithium-ion batteries so cheap they will be a viable alternative to petroleum products as a mobile energy source.
This is also happening; € in 2014 a lithium ion battery storage system cost $23,429 (€21,428.64) by July 2015 Tesla was selling one for $4,000 (€3,658.48), Ars Technica reported. The price of battery packs for electric vehicles fell from $1,000 (€914.62) per kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2007 to $450 (€411.58) per kWh in 2014.
Even further cost reductions are expected now that Tesla’s gigantic gigafactory battery plant in Storey County, Nevada, is in production. Tesla has reduced lithium ion production costs at the Gigafactory by 35%, Teslarati claimed. This is being achieved the old-fashioned way by increasing the scale of production.
Mass production of the 2170 battery cell which Musk has claimed is the highest energy density cell in the world began at the Gigafactory in January with Panasonic’s help, Electrek reported.
Those claims cannot be verified but Tesla’s Powerpack batteries are now so cheap that utilities are using them to create giant battery farms to serve as backup to the electric power grid. Southern California Edison and Tesla opened one capable of storing 20 megawatts (20 million) watts of electricity in Ontario, California, in January, The Guardian reported.
Make generating electricity with solar power as cheap and as easy as possible. Musk may have achieved this goal as well with his Solar Roof.
The Solar Roof is made of glass tiles that look like ordinary shingles or roof slates. Many of the tiles are actually solar cells or miniature solar panels, enough of them are supposed to generate electricity to power a home. The electricity is stored in one of Tesla’s lithium ion batteries.
The advertised price of the Solar Roof shingles at $42 (€38.21) a square foot (.3048 meters) is actually lower than many ordinary roofing materials, Bloomberg reported. It may even be competitive with asphalt shingles, the most popular roofing material in America.
Since Solar Roof is supposedly stronger than most roofing materials, Tesla might even turn a profit in the roofing business. It is also on pipe dream Tesla is taking $1,000 (€914.62) deposits for Solar Roof at its website and planning to market them in America this summer and worldwide next year.
“These are really the three legs of the stool for a sustainable energy future,” Musk said. “Solar power going to a stationary battery pack so you have power at night, and then charging an electric vehicle … you can scale that to all the world’s demand.”
A Fossil Fuel Free World is now a Real Possibility
The three legs of Musk’s plan are now in place, if it actually works the energy market will be changed beyond recognition. Even if it is only partially successful this plan would reduce the demand for natural gas, oil and coal. It would also threaten the share value of major energy producers such as Exxon-Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Total (NYSE: TOT).
Musk’s grand design will also add impetus to the growing movement to kill off diesel cars and possibly gasoline-burning vehicles. There is already a well-organized effort to ban diesel vehicles in some European countries, The MIT Technology Review noted. Diesel-powered trucks might be next on the elimination list – Tesla has built an electric-powered semi-truck that Musk has driven.
If that was not scary enough for oil investors, some governments including that in Germany want to get rid of internal combustion by 2030. The Musk scheme may make bans on diesel; and efforts to kill off petrol-driven vehicles, a realistic possibility. That would be catastrophic for oil producers including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The obvious conclusion here is that a fossil fuel free world is a realistic possibility, although not necessarily a probability. Every investor needs to take stock of that possibility and prepare for it. It might be a good time to sell your oil stocks and start buying lithium futures.