“If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels,” Musk explained. “It would take a fairly small corner of Nevada, Texas, Utah, you only need 100x100 miles.”
Of course you wouldn’t be able to constantly produce the electricity provided because the Sun rather unhelpfully goes down, so what about storing it?
“And then the batteries you’d need to store that power is 1x1 mile. That’s it...”
It’s clear that Musk is just proposing a hypothetical example, but it’s a powerful one that shows just how potentially achievable the task is if an entire country was willing to work towards one goal.
Ultimately though Musk doesn’t envision there being one giant solar array powering the whole of the United States, instead if it were going to happen it would need to be a collaborative work between homeowners and the utility companies.
For starters homeowners who can generate their own electricity would need to massively adopt solar. That would be the first step.
Musk then goes on to explain that it would likely be a mix between rooftop solar, utility solar and then a mixture of other renewables including wind, hydroelectric and, for a brief period nuclear too.
The entrepreneur also had something to say about the highly-anticipated growth of fusion energy.
“People talk a lot about fusion, 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.” he said.
While the comment was laced with a little light-heartedness Musk’s passion and commitment towards renewables is deadly serious. Having merged the solar company SolarCity with Tesla Musk believes that making attractive, powerful and affordable solar for the home will be the first step.
To tackle this Tesla recently unveiled its Solar Roof, a specially designed solar tile that looks just like conventional roof tiles but is able to generate electricity.
If that wasn’t enough Tesla believes its tiles are more durable than conventional roof tiles, putting each design through a punishing stress test.