June 9, 2021 marks the 4 year anniversary of Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeting out that all Superchargers are being converted to solar/battery power & that over time, almost all will disconnect from the electricity grid. Four years later & currently, there are still ZERO off-grid solar/battery powered Superchargers. The announcement of imminent solar/battery fast chargers in the very near future was obviously a false promise to anyone who understands energy infrastructure. The footprint alone required to generate thousands of on-demand kilowatts & kilowatt hours from solar/battery alone makes the tweet ridiculous on its face.
All Superchargers are being converted to solar/battery power. Over time, almost all will disconnect from the electricity grid.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2017
Why Off-Grid Solar/Battery Fast Chargers Do Not Exist
Off-grid Superchargers powered by solar/battery don’t exist because solar requires a large footprint to generate enough electricity to fast-charge a vehicle with a 100kWh battery pack. That’s a lot of energy! It’s not to say off-grid solar/battery chargers can’t exist, they can. It’s just no one has ever built one because it’s obvious that it’s not easy, practical, or economical. Most anyone with a little energy knowledge would tell you the footprint of the solar array and onsite battery pack would require a lot of land or rooftop surface & a super expensive on-site battery pack to supplement the solar array. We’re left to guess the size & cost of just one of these imaginary stations but can conjecture that it might not happen for a while because it would be a monster in size & cost. How big do you make the solar array? Where do you put it if space is limited? How big should the storage battery be? Should you take into account long periods of cloud cover and make it enormous? No one knows. There is no example of an off-grid solar/battery station for these simple facts and that’s why it is the four year anniversary of this fictitious tweet.
‘Tesla Stans‘ make up all kinds of rationalizations for why this false promise and so many others made by Elon Musk don’t matter. They say things like “well the grid is getting greener and greener and it doesn’t really matter.” All such rationalizations are enabling a culture where it’s ok to say things that are so obviously untrue. More than 90 percent of the electricity in West Virginia and more than 84% in Wyoming comes from coal, according to data collected by the Energy Information Administration. More than 50 percent of the electricity generated in Wyoming, Indiana and Missouri comes from coal too and that’s a recent improvement because of increases in natural gas. In all, 15 states get more than half their electricity from coal-fired plants.1 How are those states going to charge their electric vehicles with renewable energy? These are serious questions, and that’s why Elon Musk won’t touch these kind of questions with a ten foot pole.
How did we get to the point that we’re all listening to someone who obviously does not understand much about how energy works?
Phase 1 – Realizing Elon Musk is a Grifter
Winston Churchill once famously said “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”. With today’s social media, Winston Churchill’s quote is no longer relevant because a lie gets all the way around the world instantly while the truth is tied up in the basement struggling to get air. When Elon Musk tweeted that all Superchargers are being converted to solar/battery and over time almost all will be converted, it was what the world was craving to hear. Elon has the ability to masterfully exploit the gullible unwashed who want so badly to feel like they’re making a difference to help the planet. One Elon tweet spawns hundreds of articles on reputable news websites as well as fanzine sites and blogs galore and instantly millions of people believe we are just a few short months away from then end of fossil fuels. The truth can barely make a sound to counter Elon’s loud speaker Twitter account, but the truth is patient and will not go away; here we are four years later and we’ll be back next year for the five year anniversary.
RMP has been writing about hydrocarbons for over a decade now and how much work is required to phase out subsurface hydrocarbons from our energy mix. But what about on-surface hydrocarbons? They will still need to be managed even if we phase out subsurface hydrocarbons like oil, coal, and subsurface natural gas. Trees are hydrocarbons. You are a hydrocarbon. Animal waste is made up of hydrocarbons. Landfills that were closed over 40 years ago are still leaching PFAS into our drinking water and spewing hydrocarbons into our atmosphere. Our precious wetlands are…. you guessed it, hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons will need to be managed indefinitely; even after we stop drilling for oil. Hydrocarbons will need to be managed even after we stop using trucks as big as a house to move coal to barges with diesel fuel so coal can be burned to make electricity; such inconvenient truths.
Subsurface hydrocarbons will not be going anywhere any time soon either. While lying about how a clean energy utopia is around the corner is some real feel good shit, it’s unfortunately not grounded in reality. The reality is America’s primary energy mix is still 80%+ fossil fueled2 & the largest part of that energy generated is lost to inefficiency & distribution.
RMP put Elon Musk on radar in October of 2013 (nearly 8 years ago) when he called hydrogen fuel cells bullshit at a Tesla service center opening in Munich Germany. I remember being so struck by his comments. It was the first time I had heard of Elon Musk. I remember 2013 being a time of excitement where people in the environmental community worked together to support so many advancing technologies that could make a meaningful change to clean up our energy economy. Fuel cells worked together with batteries & showed back then the same great promise they still show today 8 years later. Fuel cells are cousins of battery cells. They’re damn near the same thing: an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. The only difference is one stores energy in a tank (fuel cell) and one stores energy within itself (battery). Otherwise they’re the same dang thing, why would Elon Musk say something so nasty & detrimental about a promising clean energy technology? 1000s of scientists & engineers have been working tirelessly and continue to do so in the hydrogen clean energy field for decades. Why would he be so insulting toward so much hard work and promise?
Phase 2 – Realizing You’re Not Alone In Knowing Elon Musk Is Shining People On
The way you get “woke” and realize Elon is a scammer is kind of universal: He says something about something you know about and you realize he’s so very wrong that it catches your attention. You say something about how wrong he is and an army of twitter-bots and cultish like supporters of Elon Musk come out of nowhere to harass you to try to keep you quiet. It has felt pretty lonely being in this camp for 8 years because so many people enable and have made excuses for his false promises. But, for years now, Elon has spewed false promises that are becoming more and more obviously wrong that more people are finally starting to push back. The tide of the patient truth is starting to turn on Elon Musk’s false promises.
On Twitter there is a whole contra-community of twitter posters fighting Elon’s fake promises using the hashtag $TSLAQ which is the combination of Tesla’s stock ticker $TSLA and the letter Q which means the company that issues stock is in the process of bankruptcy. $TSLAQ has become synonymous with Tesla’s ethical bankruptcy. At first $TSLAQ was for the most part something that short sellers in FINTWIT used that were aligned in thinking that Elon Musk was breaking SEC rules to defraud investors. As years ticked by, $TSLAQ morphed into a larger group of influential social media accounts. Writers like Lora Kolodny who writes for CNBC.com, Dana Hull who writes for Bloomberg in San Francisco, and Russ Mitchell who writes for the LA Times are all followers of influential $TSLAQ twitter accounts as source material for their stories in their respective publications. God bless theses reporters for not being afraid of the bully Elon Musk even though they take a lot of heat for speaking out the truth.
More and more people are taking notice of people speaking truth to power & pointing out Elon’s grifter ways. Each time Elon makes a false promise to help drive up his fortunes, he turns more and more people on to the fact that he is just shining people on to get their money. The examples are growing and so too are the amount of people realizing his big promises are not coming true. Elon is a lot like Ali G in the sense that the more popular he got for being hard core, the harder it became for him to fake people out.
Here’s a listing of just a few of the things Elon has promised at the same time he has asked for money for deposits, money from investors, or tax abatements/subsidies from governments:
2016 – Said autonomous Tesla cars are just 6 months away. Now five years later, and according to Navigant research, Tesla is in last place in autonomous driving and the leaders like Waymo & Cruise are saying Level 5 driving is still years away. This has been the single biggest driver of Tesla’s market valuation exceeding it’s forward earnings ratio by a staggering 111x( at the time of this writing)3. By way of comparison, a much smaller market cap local carmaker like General Motors makes and sells more than 10x the amount of cars Tesla currently makes & sells and has a forward P/E ratio of 9.1x4
2016 – Tesla unveils solar shingle on set of Desperate Housewives like a Shamwow towel and starts taking cash deposits. Tesla gets a billion dollar tax credit for their plant in Buffalo New York to build these solar shingles and the State of New York pins their green energy future (and taxpayer dollars) to Elon’s promise. Elon says Tesla will be making & installing over 1000 solar shingle roofs per week and they’ll cost less than a regular roof. Five years later, there is no volume solar shingle production in Buffalo, nothing on the horizon, Tesla recently jacked up the price on solar roofs after people already gave deposits/commitments, and Tesla is not even half way toward the employment goals they promised after two years of extensions.5
2017 – Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosts unveil event for Tesla Class 8 Semi and a new Roadster he says will be able to fly over short distance with cold thrusters. The Tesla semi boasts forthcoming numbers that battery experts say they’ll have to see to believe. Elon says you’ll have to wait until 2019 but you guessed it, he’s taking cash deposits and promises delivery in 2019. It’s 2021 now two years past the promise date and no one has real world test data on its Class 8 duty cycles. Just a flashy prototype for dog & pony shows. No Roadster yet either and definitely none that will ever fly. Tesla is still holding those deposits for both the Semi & the Roadster.
2019 – In April of 2019 Elon Musk hosts autonomy day and recycles the autonomous promise of 2016 and says this time he’s got it: One Million Robotaxis in Less Than A Year!6. A month later in May Tesla raises $2.7B in capital by issuing shares and taking on debt.7 A couple months later Tesla announces a 5:1 stock split in anticipation of more growth coming from their Level 5 self driving robotaxis coming in less than 12 months.8 The cash raises and dilution of Tesla investors didn’t stop there either. In 2020, Tesla went back to capital markets several more times after “battery day” raising $10B over the course of four months in 2020 “capitalizing” on its momentum.9 According to Navigant Research, Tesla is still a laggard in autonomous driving while this very week Waymo & Cruise have started filing permit paperwork for an autonomous ride hailing service in California.
On April 22, Investor Autonomy Day, Tesla will free investors from the tyranny of having to drive their own car
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 13, 2019
I could go on and on about other Tesla promises and so much more but the pattern is clear. In fact entire websites have been dedicated toward tracking Elon’s false promises. One such website is elonmusk.today which chronicles all of Elon’s false promises. Another website I just became aware of is Got Musked that does something similar in debunking Elon’s false claims.
The footsteps are getting louder and louder of the number of people who realize Elon has been shining people on with false promises about renewable energy and so many other things. You’re not alone if you choose to speak out about Elon’s false promises. Your voice deserves to be heard to stop these unethical behaviors.
How Can We Charge BEVs with Off-Grid Renewable Solar & Wind Energy?
The best way to get a lot of renewable energy in remote locations from solar & wind is ironically with hydrogen fuel cells. Our new Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who just visited La Porte Texas last week to promote green hydrogen, seems to get it. Our former Michigan Governor has been on a media blitz for the US Department of Energy promoting green hydrogen because it just makes sense to anyone who studies energy. Remember, a fuel cell is nearly the same dang thing as a battery: an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. Below is a great example of the most practical and economical way to fast charge a BEV from sun & wind energy in any location where humans might congregate with their BEVs. Notice the small footprint: one semi trailer in size = 6MWh!
Fuel cells and batteries work together to green our planet. Many scientists & engineers agree on this and are working toward clean green energy from the sun & wind to power their BEVs with hydrogen. Elon Musk, only seems to care about Tesla’s stock price and his own personal wealth despite all the hard work being done by so many. If you really want to see BEVs powered by the sun here is the simple equation to do it: Solar Array + Battery + Hydrogen Fuel Cell = MWh on demand. It’s a three legged system like a three legged table, it cannot stand up if any one of those three legs is not there. Tesla’s Board of Directors should hold Elon Musk accountable for the false promises he’s made to obtain capital. The debts are soon coming due for so many people who believed in his salaciously false tweets.
See you next year for the five year anniversary of zero off-grid solar/battery Superchargers.
Footnote #1 – The New York Times, “How Does Your State Generate Electricity?” Published October 28, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/28/climate/how-electricity-generation-changed-in-your-state-election.html
Footnote #2 – U.S. Energy Information Association “Today in Energy” Published September 14, 2020 https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=45096
Footnote #3 – Finbox.Com, “Forward P/E Ratio” Published in real time & observed June 8, 2021 https://finbox.com/NASDAQGS:TSLA/explorer/pe_fwd
Footnote #4 – Finbox.Com, “Forward P/E Ratio” Published in real time & observed June 8, 2021 https://finbox.com/NYSE:GM/explorer/pe_fwd
Footnote #5 -The Buffalo News, “Tesla’s focus at Buffalo plant shifts away from solar energy as job deadline nears” Published June 7, 2021 https://buffalonews.com/business/local/teslas-focus-at-buffalo-plant-shifts-away-from-solar-energy-as-job-deadline-nears/article_c12edacc-c7a4-11eb-93ee-abff956329a4.html
Footnote #6 – CNBC Tech Drivers, “Elon Musk claims Tesla will have 1 million robotaxis on roads next year, but warns he’s missed the mark before” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/22/elon-musk-says-tesla-robotaxis-will-hit-the-market-next-year.html
Footnote #7 – Reuters, “Tesla boosts capital raise to $2.7 billion, Musk buys more stock” Published May 3, 2019 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-offering/tesla-boosts-capital-raise-to-2-7-billion-musk-buys-more-stock-idUSKCN1S90YT
Footnote #8 – Tesla Investor Relations, “Tesla Announces a Five-for-One Stock Split” Published August 11, 2020 https://ir.tesla.com/press-release/tesla-announces-five-one-stock-split
Footnote #9 -Forbes, “Yet Another Stock Offering Will Further Pressure Tesla’s Already Pathetically-Low ROE” Published December 8, 2020 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcollins/2020/12/08/yet-another-stock-offering-will-further-pressure-teslas-already-pathetically-low-roe/