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Elon Musk
Elon Musk stands outside the Tesla Factory in Fremont, Calif. Photo: Maurizio Pesce via Flickr.

How to power the whole world? Ask Elon Musk.

While pipelines are approved and rig counts go up, Elon Musk and Leonardo DiCaprio are talking lithium ion batteries, climate change and alternative energy. Is all of this just talk, or is there some truth to their rhetoric?

We actually did the calculations to figure out what it would take to transition the whole world to sustainable energy. You’d need 100 Gigafactories.

elon musk, leonardo dicaprio

A screenshot from the National Geographic TV video shows Leonardo DiCaprio and Elon Musk in his Gigafactory in October of 2016. 

This is what Elon Musk was quoted as saying in a recent article. He met with DiCaprio last year at his Gigafactory to discuss the future of energy. One goal is to “reach and maintain net zero energy” and continue to drive down the price of lithium ion batteries in order to “financially incentiviz[e] the use of alternative energy sources.”

A recent diagram published by teh Lawrence Livermore National Library shows American energy usage and sources in 2016, and almost two thirds of our energy is wasted. Musk’s emphasis on energy storage would help to curb the loss of energy. And transportation, one of the areas the U.S. uses the most energy, is the industry in which Musk is best known. His company, Tesla, just surpassed Ford as the word’s most valuable car company, despite the fact that it lost money in 2016 while Ford made $11 billionThe Atlantic recently asked the question, will Tesla do to cars what Apple did to smartphones? If so, it’s possible that much of the carbon issue that piggybacks on transportation inefficiencies could begin to subside.

An April 11 report by Wood McKenzie says that growing markets in China, India, and the Middle East will put enough cars on the road to require 12 percent more barrels of oil in 2035 for fuel than last year in 2016. Plus, the high costs of electric vehicles in addition to the lifespan of the average car means it will take quite a while for electric vehicles to really have a significant global impact. Unless, of course, Musk’s technology really disrupts the market.

No matter what, it’s a trend to keep your eye on.

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