@elonmusk is going to save the World (get solar to work or die tryin’)
Apologies to 50 Cent for paraphrasing the name of his first album but Elon Musk is already rich. According to Wikipedia (click here to view his full profile), his net worth in 2012 was US$2.4bn. He dropped out of his PhD course at Stanford in 1995, aged 24, to start an internet company which was sold for $341m just 4 years later. He then co-founded Paypal, which was sold to Yahoo in 2002 for $1.5bn.
Musk has committed to donate most of his wealth to charity and his foundation supports science education, pediatric health, and clean energy. He has founded 3 new companies: Tesla (electric cars), SpaceX (commercial space exploration – click here to read my blog on this), and SolarCity (solar energy). Tesla and SolarCity are listed on the US stockmarket and their current valuations are around $4bn and $1.3bn respectively. Before the age of 40, Musk was behind the creation of 3 separate “billion-dollar” companies.
As a result of his achievements, his prediction at TED2013 this week that
solar will generate more power than any other energy source within 20 years
is worth taking seriously (click here for the TED2013 blog report on his talk).
According to the National Academy of Engineering (US), the Earth receives 10,000x the energy that we currently use from the sun. The challenge is the efficiency of conversion into electricity along with storage and distribution in order to beat the cost and reliability of existing fossil fuels.
If Musk is successful with his new companies, he can have a profound impact on humanity. Reducing energy costs would have the largest benefit to the poorest people on the planet. In addition, solar can literally save the World, by reducing carbon emissions. The Tesla S was named 2013 Car of the Year by Automotive Magazine (read their review by clicking here) but the important point is that having electric cars available once electricity is sourced from solar will accelerate the decline of oil usage. Finally, commercial space transportation will enable asteroid mining and colonisation of other planets, which could effectively provide unlimited resources.
During his TED talk, Musk said “I’m confident that solar will beat everything hands-down, including natural gas. It must, actually. If it doesn’t, we’re in deep trouble”. Get solar to work or die tryin’!