Here’s Something Hopeful

After the latest news on the dumpster fire of a political election, and the Cubs loss I thought you might like to see something hopeful.

Elon Musk unveiled solar powered shingles.  The idea isn’t new, but the ones he unveiled are better engineered than the previous versions.   I generally not a fan of solar energy.  It’s not because of the energy, it’s because of the federal subsidies that prop the entire industry up.  I have never, ever seen a solar deal that worked without subsidies.  My friend Craig Pirrong has written about Musk as a businessman.  I’d like to see the feds end all subsidies of lots of different things and let the free market sort it out.

I also believe strongly that we should be building lots of nuclear power plants.  The information age requires steady on demand power which solar power cannot reliably provide at scale.  If you are a global warming advocate, nuclear is something you have to get behind.  If you don’t believe in global warming, you still should advocate strongly for nuclear power because it’s the cheapest way to power the information economy.

But this product looks really cool to me.  Why?

I think the only way solar power wins at scale is to unbundle the power grid.  Putting solar into homes in this manner is a very interesting way to unbundle the grid.  Without subsidies, I don’t know what the payback period is.  That number would be interesting to me.

Most great companies at their core have some sort of individual liberty/property rights aspect to them.  When individuals are free to choose-and property rights are clearly assigned-whatever decisions those individuals make is in the best interest of us all.  This has that in it.


  • Dan Kunze

    Not being economically feasible, as you mentioned, is bad enough but if any major solar project was started, we would still need 100% redundancy for cloudy days/storage failures, which is what we have right now with our current coal/gas powered systems. And we would also need oodles of new transmission. BUT to your point, these small scale projects can work, if the homeowner or farmer can wait for the payback after they shell out the up front cost.

    I would be interested to hear what they do about heavy snow loads on the shingles.

    • Exactly. Heavy snow loads might not melt off, or ice up, creating other problems. Would like to hear. I recall that solar powered road on Kickstarter didn’t have a problem in Montana

  • awaldstein

    Very optimistic about this.

    Very smart approach.

    I’m with you on this one my friend.

    • Makes me want to reshingle a roof. I have heard from scientists at Argonne that the Tesla battery tech isn’t cutting edge and will degrade at or near the payback period. Battery tech is something we don’t talk about enough when it comes to solar. I believe solar scientists need to think about unbundling, rather than lakes of solar panels.