Tesla Taking the Lead in Democratizing Energy Production

One of the fond hopes of many people who are supportive of LENR as a viable and affordable energy source is that it might provide the means for people to live off-grid. Many hold out hope that at some point LENR (in the form of the E-Cat or something similar) will allow for the domestic production of heat, cooling and electricity, and we can start seeing the democratization of energy production on a large scale.

The dream of off-grid living is nothing new, and it has been achieved in many cases using solar and wind installations, but typically building a domestic power system that can meet normal household energy use has required a significant investment which is outside the budget of most households.

However, Elon Musk’s Tesla is trying to change that, and push domestic energy production into the mainstream. Just last week Musk introduced a new design of solar panels called Solar Roof, which are designed to function like normal roofing tiles, while at the same time provide electricity to homes. These panels can be combined with the Tesla PowerWall battery which stores energy for household use when sunlight is not available.

Below is a video of Musk’s unveiling of the Solar Roof system in Los Angeles last Friday.

As always, Musk is bold and ambitious, and has a remarkable confidence and can-do attitude with new technological innovations. Musk states in this presentation that the cost of these tiles will be less than normal roofing materials, while at the same time producing electricity — so he’s selling this system as a no-brainer in terms of investing in ones home. He sees this as a solution that can be scaled worldwide and be employed as a solution to the world’s energy problems.

As far as commercial LENR is concerned, I think the most promising commercial product is Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat — but so far, while he does say domestic units are planned, he is working towards building only industrial scale plants. For many years he has said that there have been problems getting safety certification his technology for home use. Brilliant Light Power could also make a move into the same arena with its SunCell, but from what I understand they are setting up for more centralized energy production systems.

If large-scale LENR energy production becomes possible, it could certainly make centralized energy production cheaper and cleaner, but without devices approved for home use the dream of off-grid living and domestic energy independence from LENR will be unrealized. Meanwhile, the home-based solar movement seems to be growing in strength.

We don’t know what the future will bring in terms of commercial LENR. I do think it has incredible potential in terms cheap, clean energy with high power density, but there is a difference between the potential and the actual. Domestic solar systems are here, now, and there is a great deal of momentum behind them. If and when domestic LENR appears on the scene it will have to compete with a well established industry, and right now, Tesla is leading out with big bold strides.

  • sam

    “Major advance in solar cells made from cheap, easy-to-use perovskite”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161108153323.htm

  • Zephir

    The fact that something grows doesn’t imply, it’s sustainable. The oil production also grows… https://disqus.com/home/discussion/ecw/tesla_taking_the_lead_in_democratizing_energy_production/#comment-2985055374

  • Zephir

    The so-called “renewables” and “green-solutions” just convert the fossil-fuel crisis into raw source crisis. As this article point outs clearly, a shift to renewable energy will just replace one non-renewable resource (fossil fuel) with another (metals and minerals). Right now wind and solar energy meet only about 1 percent of global demand; hydroelectricity meets about 7 percent. For example, to match the power generated by fossil fuels or nuclear power stations, the construction of solar energy farms and wind turbines will gobble up 15 times more concrete, 90 times more aluminum and 50 times more iron, copper and glass than we are consuming right now (note that concrete production already consumes 2% of total world energy production).

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n11/full/ngeo1993.html

    The problem is, the renewable energy needs copper, steel, aluminium, indium, neodymium, glass and concrete. If the contribution from wind turbines and solar energy to global energy production is to rise from the current 400 TWh to 12,000 TWh in 2035 and 25,000 TWh in 2050, as projected by the World Wide Fund for Nature, about 3,200 million tonnes of steel, 310 million tonnes of aluminium and 40 million tonnes of copper will be required to build the latest generations of wind and solar facilities. This corresponds to a 5 to 18% annual increase in the global production of these metals for the next 40 years. Most of indium is consumed with solar cell industry – but we have reserves of indium to the next fifteen years only. This is not how the sustainable evolution is supposed to look like…

    Also, the wind turbines only work when there’s wind – although not too much – and the solar panels only work during the day and then only when it’s not cloudy, so we need backup over night and during winter. Other than that, alternative energy is perfect for everyone, who cannot calculate. And this applies just to mainstream scientists, who are otherwise so proud of their ability to calculate everything. And 25,000 TWh is still just one sixth of the total world energy consumption. It’s evident, the cold fusion is not the alternative, it’s actually the only one possible option of the energetic future of human civilization. The faster we will implement it, the better.

  • Zephir

    Solar energy doesn’t work anyway and the people cannot calculate. It’s all just about money and TCO.

  • Rene

    Roof tile PV has been around for some time, albeit much pricier and lower efficiency (often <10%) than rigid PV panel installations. If the amorphorous systems do reach 10-15% and total install costs gets within 5% of standard roof installations, it becomes no-brainer acceptance. If that is what Musk plans to do, good for him.

    The big problem is still battery storage. The Tesla power-walls are 4 and 8KWh units. That is a small amount of storage for even sunny California. It would barely carry a house through the night. This is not a problem for on-grid PV, but given the hostility of power companies in a growing number of states (in the U.S.), it will be common to see grid-share fees of $20/month or more for people with PV grid-tie systems. That fee depletes the small savings the battery storage would have generated. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_metering

    So, even for on-grid PV, the battery storage needs to be much higher, at least 16KWH to offset hostile grid-tie charges. Off-grid requires even more battery storage to let the system coast on batteries on rainy or deep cloud days.

    I presently have a 52KWh battery bank and nearly 7KW PV array which is massive overkill in the summer but works quite nicely in the winter. It is a pricey off-grid system. My fading hope in LENR was that a domestic unit producing only 1KW electrical but up to 12KWh/day would have eliminated the need for so much battery storage and a backup fossil fuel generator. Having a hybrid system with intermittent LENR and modest PV would have been a wonderful sweet spot. Thank was my hope six years ago. My thinking lately is that someday, perhaps in the next decade, LENR may play a part in energy generation.

    • atanguy

      Thank you for sharing your experience Rene. Our hope is that the future will see new improvements in the PV technology and LENR will become finally an option. Unfortunately the problems are also political and the new energy will need a complete rethinking of the society.

  • atanguy

    Watch the movie and do the same…

    • tsmac

      I watched it. It is interesting… for a religious film. You are falsely equating real pollution with a theory of global Warming. Now that I’ve insulted you (sorry), let me say this: I completely agree with you on the need to fight against pollution. I think that is the common ground and the reason we are both on this website. We must move away from fossil fuel use into something better. This is the hope of LENR.

      • atanguy

        Well, at least you seem to agree that there is pollution from fossil fuel. But in some ways the increase of temperature worldwide is more worrisome and you do not have to be “religious” to accept it. Now this increase seems to be linked to the carbon dioxide increase rate, that also is a fact shared by the large majority of scientists in the field. Why is there this increase? Seems logical to attribute it to the burning of fossil fuel, don’t you think?
        I agree of course that LENR is an hope to replace fossil fuels but also PV and wind are technologies, existing now, and,as this article from Frank says, it should be part of the needed change in our energy of the future.

  • sam

    Interesting Article

    “Flexible solar panel goes where silicon can’t”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161101133758.htm

    • cashmemorz

      Now THAT is a type of Photovoltaic I wouldn’t mind using in my house. It is less cumbersome to fit a window blind than a big chunk of roof. Then I can get it out of the way whenever I want. By automating the blinds to go down on the sunniest side of the house and up on the darker side I can optimize it between light inside the house from sides where there is less light coming in and power where there is too much light. The wiring will also be more accessible. And one can add flexible panel in many other places that stiff panels would not work so well.

  • Bernie Koppenhofer

    Just a couple of customers reporting savings from the Rossi Low Temp reactors would go a long way toward proving LENR is legit. The only conclusion you can make from below is Rossi does not want LENR proven: Yet.

    Frank AclandNovember 1, 2016 at 5:34 AM
    Dear Andrea,
    What is the current status of the making of the low temperature E-Cat plants?
    Many thanks,
    Frank Acland
    Translate
    Andrea RossiNovember 1, 2016 at 12:26 PM
    Frank Acland:
    On course.
    Warm Regards,
    A.R.

    • Jimr

      I hit the translate area. It said ;
      I don’t want to answer that question because we have not perfected or shipped any units . JUST JOKING but I believe it.

  • AdrianAshfield

    Frank,
    What Musk actually says is not that the materials will be cheaper but the higher cost will be offset by the electricity generated.
    It would be prudent to look at actual data over a year and how much the subsidy is before getting too excited.
    It may well work out in really sunny climbs but I doubt it for PA.
    Either way :LENR should be cheaper. Electricity is very expensive in CA.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    One feature of solar is vulnerability towards large volcanic eruptions which can dim the sun hemispherically. Such are nasty periods anyway (food production reduction, air traffic stoppage) so the least thing one wants is a simultaneous shortage of electricity.

  • Bernie Koppenhofer

    As I see it LENR will not be competing with Solar it will complement the goal of solar which is to reduce fossil fuel use. LENR will be reducing the use of fossil fuel in the utility industry. It is a one two punch to mitigate climate change. Anything government can do to accelerate this free market process should be done immediately.

  • Zephir
  • http://magicmusicandmore.com/ Barry

    Musk is a visionary. As a part time carpenter I always thought solar grids look horrible on a roof. My wish list was a solar shingle that was durable so you didn’t have to replace it in 20 years and was good looking.
    I also put up metal roofs that have beautiful colors. Imagine a metal roof panel that is 3′ wide and has a nice color and is a solar collector. Put them on roofs everywhere. Thought LENR was going to break through 4 years ago. Starting to think we should advance solar and let LENR catch up somewhere in the future.

  • atanguy

    Before the flood
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90CkXVF-Q8M
    Time to change!

    • Jimr

      I don’t believe that video will change or influence anyones opinion. A chopped up series of shots. A good documentery would have a better chance.

      • atanguy

        In my opinion, the movie shows definitively the impact of climate change. Some people,even on this blog, still denying it, and moreover still think that humans are not responsible for it.

        • Omega Z

          Global warming began over 12,000 tears ago when the human population was near extinction in numbers. By the time of the industrial revolution, over 95% of the worlds glaciers and ice had already melted.

          The video is a propaganda film. Of course it’s going to make connections captain obvious. Given an opportunity, I could make Hitler appear to have been the worlds savior and the evil populace rejected him. Statistics and propaganda. Do I believe the climate is warming? Yes. Add me to the 1000 scientists who agree. Note I said nothing about man made GW and neither did many of them take us off that list. Commercial: 4 out of 5 dentists recommend trident gum. An hour latter 4 out of 5 dentists recommend dentyne gum ??? Pick your subjects and phrases to say what you want.

          GW is a means to control the masses. Under that guise I can say where you shall live(select beaches shall be reserved for the 1%) and everything you can do. Obviously, this does not apply to the 1%. Your 5 horsepower fishing boat is a menace to the climate, however, their 100 gallons or more of fossil fuel per mile yacht cruising the Mediterranean is totally permissible. Their private jets(Like Brad Pitt) can pump out tons of CO2 every time they take a trip. The top 1% are responsible for about 50% of all CO2 emissions.

          TPTB want the U.S. and Europe to have wide open borders, however, those like Mark Zuckerberg quietly build 15 foot walls around their mansions and estates. Every ton of cement used for that purpose is another ton of CO2. But these people are special. They are your silent rulers. Their are still those who want empires and monarchies.

          When it was mentioned that congresspersons and senators make to much money and it should be reduced, a lady politician popped off that it would hurt the prestige of the office. Seems she’s confused about Who serves Whom.

          • atanguy

            Omega, you seem to be angry against the oligarchy that is running the world, but you don’t see what is the base of the power of the 0.0..1%. To me it is obviously the fossil energy – You can’t continue to deny that it is this energy that is responsible for the increase of CO2, therefore for global warming. We are burning carbon that took billion of years to be buried in just a few human generations. Fighting for a new energy is to fight the power of the oligarchs.

    • sam

      “Transforming, self-learning software could help save the planet”
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161101093303.htm

      • Zephir

        Or destroy it with Skynet-like viruses. Oh, I forgot – that global warming link… 😉
        Whatever BS is promoted by now as a global warming Savior. The cancer cure apparently isn’t hype already.

  • http://renewable.50webs.com/ Christopher Calder
  • MorganMck

    “There is no economic case for fossil fuels anymore. All fossil fuels has going for it is inertia and corruption.”

    What an absurd statement. If true, the renewables would have a reasonably large market share by now (which they don’t). They have had decades to compete and are still a minor player in overall power production even with the subsidies they have gotten for many years.

    We really need breakthrough technologies to breakout and replace fossil fuels. Newer nuclear technologies are safe and reliable and could probably play a major role but the green lobby has politicians so focused on only solar and wind solutions that I doubt we will get there from here.

  • sam
  • Zephir

    Ironically for Elon Musk and his Solar Roof / Home lithium batteries the cold fusion is the largest competitor by now. The cold fusion cannot wipe out the need of coal and oil for plastic industru, but Elon Musk depends solely on governmentally subsidized business. To celebrate him right here – at the cold fusion forum – is two edged idea from this perspective.

    • Warthog

      The vast majority of plastics does NOT come from either coal or oil. The main fossil feedstock for plastics is natural gas. Typically the C2, C3, and C4 components.

      • cashmemorz

        True enough. Just that natural gas is mostly found in the same place as oil. So before gas can be extracted for use in anything it has to be extracted or more like co-extracted from the same area where oils is found first. When oil is found it will be used, whether at the same time as oil but the oil will be used. Then the the gas will be used later since a lot of it has to be sequestered for later use depending on how much excess there is. The fact that gas is used for plastics or other materials is a late comer after oil based plastics. Now that it is known how to convert gaseous material into solid plastics it has become a short step towards using any gas, including CO2 with water to make plastics. So thankfully the very cause for CO2 has led the way to find a way to sequester and convert that same overabundance of CO2 into a form that does not cause a problem in the atmosphere as a greenhousde gas.

        • Warthog

          Well, a more accurate description would be that different ratios of hydrocarbons are found in different locations. The choice of calling something an “oil well” vs a “gas well” depends on the ratios of heavy HC vs light HC (by molecular weight). What the producers really love is deposits that are mostly light end (with most of the HC lighter than C10). The stuff lighter than about C5 and down to C2 goes off to plastics production, the stuff heavier than C6 goes into automotive gas tanks, and the C1 goes into pipelines to heat homes (or generate electricity). Of course you are right that any HC that comes out of the well will get used “somehow”, even if it is only as asphalt on roads.

      • Zephir

        This page says the opposite http://www.stephensinjectionmoulding.co.uk/sources-of-plastic

        “The main source of synthetic plastic is crude oil, although coal and natural gas are also used.” Actually, most of ethylene, butadiene and similar C2, C3, and C4 hydrocarbos used in plastic industry is made from oil by steam cracking. This is required for formation of double bonds, capable of polymerization. You cannot prepare such bonds from aliphatic hydrocarbons.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene#Industrial_Process

        So could you link your source, please?

        • Warthog

          My source is my twenty year employment by the second largest chemical company in the world, and one of the biggest producers of plastics (and plastic products), and a BS and PhD in chemistry. I think I have a pretty good idea where my employer got its feedstocks.

          It is trivially easy to make double bonds from any HC stream with a carbon chain of two or greater. Steam cracking and/or catalytic cracking work for any HC mix.

          Now, there was a time frame where it looked like the US was going to run short of natural gas (AC= After Carter), and the industry “did” begin to swing from the preferred natural gas feedstock to heavier HC, and indeed “did” run on the longer-chain stuff. But it takes more energy, requires more processing steps, and costs more money.

          So now that directional horizontal drilling and fracking have made natural gas widely available and less expensive, US plastic producers are rapidly swinging back to it.

          Your links are probably correct for industrialized areas where shale gas has not yet been widely tapped (Europe, mostly), but not for the US.

    • pg

      I think it is right to celebrate him, I have not seen many other people transforming the whole renewable energy world as much as he has. When someone else will do better we’ll celebrate him even more.

      • Zephir

        The only problem is, Musk’s world isn’t renewable, sustainable the more. Musk himself just utilizes governmental subsidizes.

  • http://renewable.50webs.com/ Christopher Calder

    After decades of hype, subsidies, mandates, and countless solar companies going bankrupt at taxpayer expense, solar provides far less than 1% of US electricity. Wind is horribly expensive, horribly unreliable, and horribly mandated and subsidized. All subsidies should end across the board, but don’t fool yourself. Per unit of usable energy actually produced, solar and wind are far more subsidized than any fossil fuel. China has stopped installing windmills on its own soil because they are so inefficient. Now they just make them to sell to sucker nations trying to be “green”. Natural gas is killing off coal, not wind and solar. If we try to live on wind and solar alone, we will all starve to death. We make food with oil and natural gas. If you want to boycott oil and natural gas, stop eating, The renewable energy fad is an irrational religion tied to the equally irrational climate hysteria fad that people love so much. We are all carbon sinners headed for global warming hell. It’s as much a religion as the Catholic Church, not science at all. It discards mathematics, common sense, and the scientific method in favor of empty symbolism. You cannot eat symbolism. We need substance to survive.

  • http://renewable.50webs.com/ Christopher Calder

    More socialized energy policy driven by mandates and costly subsidies. Remove the mandates and subsidies and Musk goes out of business. Tesla cannot survive on a level playing field. Tesla needs Mafia style tactics to survive, which include bribes and forced purchases. That is not the way freedom is supposed to work. If a product is energy efficient and cost effective, you never have to subsidize it or force people to buy it. We need to end all energy subsidies and mandates across the board.

    • SD

      Other sources of energy also have subsidies and externalized costs. What’s easier, giving subsidies to a cleaner energy, or trying to account for oil spills in Nigeria and geopolitical effects?

      • Timar

        Exactly.

        There is no non-subsidized energy. It is a (dangerous) illusion, just like the absolute notion of freedom in libertarian ideology. In the pre-LENR landscape, you can either have moderately and more or less transparently susidized green energy or you can have nuclear energy with unknown, possibly exorbitant, national economy threatening subsidies in case of catastrophic failures (ask the Japanese) or carbon based energy with possibly even more catastrophic long term consequences from global climate change. Those subsidies are likely not payed by us but by our children and grandchildren – and by the most disadvantaged people in the world.

        • cashmemorz

          The next few generations are who will be paying for our insistence that global warming is not man-made. Can anyone of the deniers look their kids and grandkids in the eye and say “I don’t accept global warming is man-made and in case it is I will let you figure out if it is man-made and who will fix it if it is.” That is what has to be done by every denier by first practicing this statement in front of a mirror. Then let it sink in and see how it feels before continuing without looking at all of the facts. It probably won’t work when facts aren’t allowed to get in the way of a premeditated opinion.

          • Observer

            You can not deny that all the the carbon in “fossil” fuels was at one time part of a living plant or animal, and all carbon in plants and animals was at one time CO2 in the atmosphere. So have we been steadily loosing CO2 in the atmosphere due to fossilization, or are volcanoes and meteorites replenishing the sequestered carbon? Is the amount of living biomass on earth at any time a function of how much CO2 is available to convert into biomass? Does life itself, through positive and negative feedback, tara-form the atmosphere to an optimum for the creation of life?

            There are so many interesting questions, and we are always dwelling on the stupid ones.

            • Timar

              The usual, nonsensical evasion of all relevant questions.

              The only relevant question is: what impact has the massive release of the CO2 that was removed from the atmosphere and bound to the earth over period of hundreds of millions of years within a few hundreds of years on the global climate homeostasis in which the human species has prospered since the last ice age? Which brings me back to your last question:

              “Does life itself, through positive and negative feedback, tara-form the atmosphere to an optimum for the creation of life?”

              Assuming the answer is yes, there may be an interesting twist to that question. Given that the human species is currently causing one of the major periods of mass extinction in planetary history, the CO2 released by this species may actually create a negative feedback by causing a catastrophic throwback to the human race and thus saving the planet’s biodiversity from that invasive species.

              Do you see the problem with such question mark bearing truisms? You can answer them any way you like. They mean anything and nothing at all…

              • TVulgaris

                No, the question-“Does life itself, through positive and negative feedback, tara(most emphatically sic)-form the atmosphere to an optimum for the creation of life?” is entirely valid, and the evidence is highly suggestive that it does, through the interaction of the billions, perhaps many orders of magnitude more, of chemical and biological (a special brand of chemical) events and interactions if from no other agency. The p-chem of the entire planet has dictated the state until industrialization and its concommitent staggering urbanization induced some inflection point in the change of nominally “ordinary” regional, and now global, -scale weather, climate, ecological, and even geographic conditions. We are experiencing the kinds of impacts of an asteroid strike or a very large volcanic event, admittedly spread over a century or two. The hysteresis-effect is of an order that it will probably take several centuries for natural recovery to negate the major damage, and much of the minor damage is so old it will never be repaired- assuming ALL human GHG, pollution, and the other macro-problems, were to immediately cease. (It is certainly to laugh…as my French mother would say). So those who observe the truly important value of LENR is the accelerated remediation of these problems (especially carbon sequestration and forced decay of rad-waste) might make the difference between humans survivng or not, at least a population greater than existed in Paleolithic times, with any kind of a discernible civilization.

                • TVulgaris

                  …are probably correct.

                • Job001

                  Well, IMO, the “Unintended consequences” of mankind’s overgrowth are likely to “self extinct” mankind before we get sufficiently smart enough at understanding and properly evaluating “Unintended consequences”. Not to be negative about it.