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Elon Musk at FiRe Conference

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by tonybelding, May 30, 2007.

  1. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Hamilton, Texas
    PC Magazine reports. . .

    Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal, and current chairman of electric car maker Tesla Motors predicted that "by the midpoint of the century the majority of our electricity will be direct solar, photovoltaic". He went on to say that we will end up generating all of our electricity from fusion sources, "direct fusion, or indirect fusion from the sun."

    I happen to mostly agree with Elon on this. The Energy Blog reported that solar panels are set to drop 40% in cost over the next three years, due to the Chinese bringing massive production capacity online. Plus, you all have already seen my advocacy of Dr. Bussard's nuclear fusion research.

    The only thing I would add is that overlooking the potential of geothermal power could be a mistake. If solar power can be described as indirect fusion from the sun, then geothermal is indirect fission from the earth -- without the need to mine, process and reprocess nuclear fuel, without the "nuclear proliferation" problem, without the risk of meltdown, and without a nuclear waste problem, because the fissile elements all remain deep in the core of the earth.

    Right now it's only practical to tap into geothermal energy in certain areas where there are shallow magma formations -- such as Iceland, Yellowstone, Hawaii, certain areas of California, Italy, Japan. . . I liken this to hydro power. Hydro power is a fantastically good option for those area which have the hydro resources, if you have a major, dammable river nearby. Likewise if you have an active volcanic caldera near your home, it's a pretty obvious move to tap into that. So it's a localized resource. . .

    However, it looks like deep drilling technology could make it possible to tap into geothermal power in much wider areas. Most of the earth's surface has hot, dry rocks laying three to six miles below. With some R&D it could be possible to tap into that heat and get geothermal power at most locations. The obvious advantage over solar power is that it's not dependent on weather or the day-and-night cycle.

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