A few years ago, a lot of the technology behind going green sounded like something out of a science fiction movie. Fancy electric cars that can travel as far as a gas powered vehicle. Magical machines that can power a large portion of our country on wind and solar alone. Space age buildings that save so much energy that they are considered net zero. All of these things were considered to be niche technologies. Sure they were around, but they were decades away from becoming mainstream.
Well science fiction is becoming science fact very quickly.
Yesterday, Tesla Motors announced that by using their cars and superchargers, you will be able to drive from LA to New York. Think about that. 2,800 miles and not a drop of gas. This isn’t happening by 2020 or 2030. This isn’t something that’s still a few years off. It’s happening by the end of this year. In fact, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla insisted at the All Things Digital conference this week that their coverage will triple the coverage of these stations by the end of next month.
Still not convinced? What about the fact that Tesla was able to pay it’s 456 Million dollar loan off 9 years early? Tesla is also trying to produce an electric car that will cost $30,000-$35,000 dollars. This is no longer some fringe science. The electric car is becoming a mainstream idea that the middle class will soon be able to get involved in. This is a far cry from Paul Ryan’s and Mitt Romney’s “loser” company that was a popular punching bag during last year’s election.
The source of power for these superchargers is also changing. When Solyndra went belly up, many people thought that it was a nail in the coffin for the alternative energy industry. However, things could not have gone much better for wind and solar since then. Many people thought the price of silicon would rise or at least stay expensive (that was Solydra’s bet). It has in fact, gotten cheaper. People were also concerned about the prospects of wind energy around the same time. Now wind power is becoming more and more mainstream, and not just because of government subsidies. Companys like Google and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway are investing more and more money in what they believe to be the future of energy production.
In a new article on economist.com, Geoffrey Carr, science editor, writes “The word ‘alternative’, with its connotations of hand-wringing greenery and a need for taxpayer subsidy, has to go.” Carr goes on to talk about Swanson’s law. Swanson’s law states that “that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity.” This could have an exponential impact on the industry in the coming years. At first, it was just buildings that ran on renewable energy. Then we saw some entire cities that can run on the wind alone. What’s next? States, regions, countries?
All these new technologies that we have seen as either “niche” or “far off” are quickly catching on in a real big way. Soon, buying an electric car won’t be some sort of pipe dream from a Spielberg film, but it will be a real option for you to consider on your next car purchase. Your town and/or house might become powered by renewable energy(not “alternative” energy). Not in 2050, but in 2015. The only thing we can wait for now is for the next round of innovators to come up with the next technologies that we can dream about until 2113.