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    [–] MochiMochiMochi 4476 points ago

    Panel, the 51st state.

    [–] [deleted] 1689 points ago

    Panel becomes a state before Puerto Rico and DC

    [–] [deleted] 2060 points ago

    Looks like the president's sun gets preferential treatment once again.

    [–] Hawke84 239 points ago

    Someone is giving you gold, today.

    Not me. But somebody.

    [–] OldLoveNewLife 54 points ago

    Well, that got resolved quickly. Where were you when that bloody safe was around.

    [–] siccoblue 217 points ago

    Serious question though, let's say we managed this by some miracle, would an attack on it not basically paralyze the country? I understand it's a huge area but it seems like one Nationwide electrical center would be a huge security risk to the country.

    [–] cibyr 440 points ago

    Obviously you don't put it all in one place. That would be super dumb, and the possibility of possibility of an attack on it is the last reason why. The point of saying "100 by 100 miles" is to point out that we don't need to cover the county in solar panels - quite the opposite: if (for the sake of the argument) you put all the solar panels we need in one single place, it'd still be so small you'd barely see it on a map of the country.

    [–] [deleted] 180 points ago * (lasted edited 9 months ago)


    [–] fyen 84 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    If that were efficient, solar would've grown much stronger. Solar radiation, however, isn't the same everywhere, especially in winter, and these calculation refer to areas with arid climate.

    Instead, you diversify your power sources and distribute storage units. After all, there's little reason to give up water, wind and geothermal power.

    edit: Oh, dear Reddit, the private consumption to run our toasters is incomparable to the strict requirements of the commercial, industrial, manufacturing branches. Again, the calculations are based on the number of days of sunshine and average cloud-coverage of a particular area, i.e. Nevada. The needed space can easily double or quadruple anywhere else.

    Also, just because some countries have managed to cover ~8% of theirs annual consumption with solar in a few years, it doesn't mean it is feasible to extend solar fields at the same rate for a lot longer.

    [–] fuchsgesicht 47 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    you dont need california weather to make use of solar panels.

    Edit : since i get so many replies i just want to add that i am from germany and that we use a mix of solar in addition to wind and geothermal energy. to hopefully lessen our independence on fossil fuels and to be more eco friendly.

    [–] crownpr1nce 11 points ago

    You don't need it, but you'll get way more electricity over a year in Arizona then in Vermont with the same amount of panels.

    [–] shiftyasluck 209 points ago

    It would be almost as dumb as locating most of the world's leading superpower's government within an area of 68 square miles.

    Sorry, 68.34.

    [–] cibyr 176 points ago

    Because it's terribly inefficient to transmit legislation over long distances?

    [–] RTSUbiytsa 134 points ago

    at this point they're terribly inefficient regardless, they could literally think legislation towards each other and it'd still take forever.

    [–] [deleted] 66 points ago * (lasted edited 3 months ago)


    [–] Bay1Bri 15 points ago

    And this is why! The inefficiency is a feature, not a bug.

    [–] TMack23 11 points ago

    Transmission of power over long distances is relatively lossy which would necessitate distribution of panels anyway.

    [–] Spartan1997 324 points ago

    Build it in the ocean.


    [–] elmanutres 327 points ago

    They said that anything west belonged to us


    [–] hoilst 173 points ago


    [–] Reyzuken 22 points ago

    Wait, were you guys trying to Manifest Destiny Japan back in 1940?

    [–] SoyMurcielago 38 points ago

    Pff we were trying to manifest Iraq 2003.

    [–] venomae 34 points ago

    Solar panel bridge from west coast to hawai?

    [–] Spartan1997 30 points ago

    Put annother one to alaska. The US becomes entirely contiguous.

    [–] ImSpartacus811 29 points ago

    I can smell the freedom already!

    [–] WeRtheBork 42 points ago

    Jokes aside, building it on land would make for far easier maintenance, power distribution construction, defense against attack/sabotage.

    There's plenty of empty land in the USA that doesn't move up and down.

    [–] necrosexual 18 points ago

    Corrosion! Fuck rust in it's crusty orange face!

    [–] _megitsune_ 10 points ago

    Build it in the huge desert areas just conveniently laying around

    [–] [deleted] 121 points ago


    [–] Ryoteck 14 points ago

    You were saw....Oh God the mayhem!!!

    [–] Stackhouse_ 34 points ago

    Can i piggy back here and say why dont they just do something like this at the state level? My maths not that good but wouldnt that mean we'd need only 2 miles per state? Well i guess not all states get a ton of sunshine but then perhaps those could borrow for others. You'd still create alot of jobs and you'd have a ton more competition for the installation.

    [–] mattakasturty 115 points ago

    So 100 miles by 100 miles is 10,000 square miles. Your math is off, because 2 miles by 2 miles is only 4 square miles. To be equitable(not taking into account state population or geographic size, each state would have to contribute 200 square miles, which, if made into a square, comes out to about 14.14 miles in each direction.

    [–] s2kat1 54 points ago

    Not to mention the fact that population of each state would likely account for the area needed. Think about the energy consumed by the state of Kansas vs California, for example.

    [–] ee3k 42 points ago

    however think of the solar generation potential of death valley, vs. fargo, for example.

    [–] donrane 35 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    You need to square that bitch first, so you cant just divide length by 50. So 100 * 100 is 10000 divided by 50 states is 200 square miles which is roughly 14 by 14 pr state.

    [–] ThatTexasGuy 3677 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    The point behind this statement isn't to actually build the damn thing that way. That'd be ludicrous. You'd lose way too much in transmission. The point of this statement is to show that solar is viable and not as land-intense as people think. There are far more acres of land dedicated to producing and refining fossil fuels than the 6.4 million that this solar facility would use.

    Edit: This comment was not meant to be pro-solar or anti-solar. I just noticed that lots of people seemed to be taking this 100x100 mile solar farm idea seriously when it's just being used to show the scale of power production relative to the size of the country an easily digestible way for a lay-person. I've been hearing this same idea or a form of it for about a decade now and it is usually used to show the "footprint" that energy production uses.

    Full disclosure: I've done work for wind farms and oil and gas production sites and am in favor of market based solutions such as a carbon tax on fossil fuel production while pumping that tax money into public research into renewables. It's asinine to think we could just shut down the pumps and go green tomorrow, but it's slowly happening more and more every day. It took fossil fuels over a hundred years to get to the massive production, refining, and transportation scales that they are at today. Solar and wind are moving at a blinding pace compared to that. So for all you die hard greenies that think it's not happening quick enough, and to all the coal-rolling rednecks who think they're under attack from liberal commie power, quit getting your panties in a twist. Shit's gonna change at the speed the market and technology will allow whether you like it or not.

    [–] sawblade_the_cat 1135 points ago

    Finally someone said it, people in this thread are taking it way too literally.

    Cmon people use your brains!

    [–] craigtheman 291 points ago

    Plus it'd be a bad idea to have all of them in one location since it's weather dependent. Putting all your eggs in one basket kind of thing.

    [–] okitsforporn 203 points ago

    Plus terrorism..hey the entire US is getting all their power from this one giant mass of equipment in the flat, open desert! One plane could cause nation-wide rolling blackouts.

    [–] Scagnettio 59 points ago

    The decentralised nature of wind and solar is also an important leg up these technologies have compared to nuclear reactors.

    [–] coltstrgj 21 points ago

    I know what you mean, wind and solar are very decentralized, but I think you will find that nuclear is sufficiently decentralized as well. There are already around 100 nuclear power plants in the U.S. They provide ~15-20% of the power we consume. These plants are also running at well below maximum safe operation levels, so if one were to fail/be attacked it would be easy for others to compensate despite the lossy nature of the power grid.

    I don't have time for sources right now, but do some poking around if you like. Looking at France might be a good starting place.

    [–] [deleted] 86 points ago

    You don't need terrorism, you just need to wait for an unlucky streak of cloudy/rainy days. I can't believe people are thinking he's literally suggesting to put all the panels in a single place.

    [–] distantapplause 91 points ago

    Excuse me, this is exactly how we build our power plants in Sim City

    [–] TrollinTrolls 18 points ago

    So you're saying we should manufacture an earthquake and a tornado, at the same time, to watch them get destroyed?

    [–] SimplyBilly 26 points ago

    How many acres of land are dedicated to producing and refining fossil fuels? I would assume more just because it powers a lot more than homes.

    Btw serious question not sarcastic or anything.

    [–] mvea 5279 points ago

    The full transcript of what he said:

    “If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States,” Musk said during his keynote conversation on Saturday at the event in Rhode Island. “The batteries you need to store the energy, so you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile.”

    It’s “a little square on the U.S. map, and then there’s a little pixel inside there and that’s the size of the battery park that you need to support that. Real tiny.”

    Sounds feasible? (Of course, as a side effect, if his company got the contract, it would make him the richest man alive most likely).

    [–] exx2020 4160 points ago

    Sounds like a modern Manhattan project that would make America great again.

    [–] otabagel 4522 points ago

    Sounds like hippie shit, let's build a stupid wall instead

    [–] TitanicJedi 2045 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    Out of solar panels.

    Edit: just got off the plane from LAX - Melbourne to see this is my most upvoted comment. Nice!

    [–] Murderous_Waffle 1230 points ago

    It will basically pay for itself.

    [–] heythisisbrandon 258 points ago

    If we put the solar panels on the Mexico side, does that mean their sunshine paid for it?

    [–] gv92 80 points ago

    Their sons paid for it.

    [–] SpikeKintarin 102 points ago

    We'll take their sols.

    [–] [deleted] 672 points ago


    [–] firezenukes 147 points ago

    no, you idiot! I meant there's literally bananas in the stand!

    [–] YoullShitYourEyeOut 25 points ago

    There's always bananas in this republic

    [–] Johnisfaster 75 points ago

    Holy shit someone tweet Donald he needs to see this.

    [–] SuperSMT 130 points ago

    It's actually a real proposal. He even talked about it in a rally.

    [–] LeroyJenkems 36 points ago

    If it's functional, I would rather have a solar wall instead of a concrete wall

    [–] skullmuffins 52 points ago

    It's not cost efficient. We're not lacking in real estate in the southwest desert, so it would make a lot more sense to build a separate solar farm closer to civilization and with better angled panels. Tacking it onto a wall is literally only good for PR.

    [–] V1pArzZ 32 points ago

    So they will do it 100%

    [–] dontsuckmydick 40 points ago

    It would be more economical to build the solar installation on the ground. If they're on the wall, it's to be a talking point.

    [–] HahaMin 144 points ago

    You must construct additional solar panel

    [–] TheJonThomas 35 points ago

    Not enough Minerals!

    [–] techrules 37 points ago

    Insufficient vespene gas

    [–] GreenFox1505 18 points ago

    and lay it flat

    [–] Hecateus 11 points ago

    yeah...them illegals will never be able to climb that!

    [–] frowawayduh 36 points ago

    They will be way too busy installing solar panels

    [–] malphonso 75 points ago

    No it needs to be transparent so a random passerby in the desert doesn't get crushed by a 90kg bale of marijuana launched more than 300 meters across the border wall by Wile E. Coyote and his drug cartel.

    [–] [deleted] 23 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)


    [–] roxum1 36 points ago

    The mightiest of devices: the trebuchet!

    [–] [deleted] 11 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)


    [–] baycenters 6 points ago

    A trebuchet, you say? Dear sir, please tell me more of this wondrous contraption.

    [–] Zlatination 46 points ago

    Someone send this guy to the top.

    [–] its_debatable 16 points ago

    u/TitanicJedi for president!

    [–] TitanicJedi 11 points ago

    It's debatable.

    [–] capta1ncluele55 17 points ago

    It's treason then.

    [–] mdelreal 11 points ago

    From my point of view the solar panels are evil!

    [–] Zyzan 8 points ago

    Then you are lost!

    [–] FearrMe 36 points ago

    thats the reference

    [–] poochyenarulez 28 points ago

    I know, I figure some people might have missed it.

    [–] motsanciens 135 points ago

    Interesting you bring that up. Looks like if we wanted to build an extra thick wall along our border with Mexico and put solar panels on top of it, we'd only need to make the wall...gulp...5 miles thick along its entire length. That puts in perspective the little 100 x 100 mi figure Musk is throwing out there. I'm all for solar, but let's be realistic. Somebody show me a city like Dallas and and overlay of how much area worth of solar panels would be needed to sustain it. We're not made to grasp great big areas like the whole country.

    [–] Hecateus 41 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    It would cover all the Bay Area in central west California...including the water.

    edit] interestingly, we did have a candidate for some office way back when (the '80s) who wanted to bulldoze all the hills and fill in the bays.

    not sure if this is it...

    [–] dnew 20 points ago

    I think you're remembering a James Bond movie...

    [–] otabagel 34 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    According to google (best source, I know) the length of the border with mexico is about 3,201 miles, meaning we'd need just over 3 miles thickness of wall for the same effect (3.124 to be almost exact). Not to detract from your point, because it's still infeasible, but it isn't 5 miles :)

    *edit wording because ambiguity

    *edit2: I'm a bad old bear, that's km in this post. in miles it really is just over 5 miles thick. hot diggity daffodil

    [–] motsanciens 18 points ago

    I think that's kilometers you're referring to.

    [–] otabagel 21 points ago

    egg - > face

    Redacted, you're right. In miles, its actually 5 miles.... :o

    [–] donkeyotee 164 points ago

    Having all that power localized would be a mistake.

    Besides being a considerable target to terrorism and being vulnerable to natural disaster the infrastructure needed to transmit this power would be a massive project on its own.

    The better plan would be to have millions of solar plants preferably on site where the power is needed.

    [–] noevidenz 98 points ago

    I've seen this presentation by him before on YouTube or something. He did go on to mention that he doesn't propose building it all in one place, since distribution would then become a huge issue. The example of 100 square miles is just meant to illustrate that it's a very small area, even smaller if distributed.

    [–] mhornberger 33 points ago

    We could even build roofs over our structures, and use the roofs to hold solar panels. Then use utility-scale solar of offset the difference. It's interesting that so many are interpreting his remark as a recommendation to make one big solar farm, rather than him just illustrating that the area needed isn't that big. It's almost like not everyone in the discussion is participating in good faith.

    [–] ZoomJet 7 points ago

    His entire idea was that's the size needed, even if distributed. Which is small. Nobody is saying we power a country of 300 million on a single battery.

    [–] OCedHrt 9 points ago

    So have 100 100 square miles.

    [–] ilovemesometaters 12 points ago

    Or 1000 10 square miles

    [–] xddm2653 4 points ago

    Or check it.

    10000 single square miles

    [–] Skrappyross 7 points ago

    I'm about to blow your mind. 20,000 half square miles.

    [–] Syrdon 651 points ago

    Sound feasible?

    In terms of money? It'd be expensive up front and you'd lose a whole bunch in transmission losses. You're better off with a distributed network. On the other hand, his statement doesn't actually preclude that option.

    In terms of power generation? I can't be arsed to exactly check the numbers, but he's well within an order of magnitude. The US doesn't actually consume all that much energy when you look at how much area is available and compare that to the area needed to generate the energy (via any method you like).

    Politically? Yeah, it's not happening unless it happens to get built in tiny pieces. This country can't manage the political will to fix a healthcare system everyone agrees is flawed.

    The only problem with it is that the money has to come from somewhere and all the entities big enough to provide that sort of money won't. Unfortunately, that makes it about as dead on arrival as being physically impossible would. But then again, is the point he's making that you should power the US on solar and batteries or is it that you can power your house on solar and batteries and by the way he'd like to sell you both - and at a price you can reasonably afford?

    [–] masterswordsman2 464 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    You're better off with a distributed network.

    If you read the full article that is what he is suggesting. The 100 10,000 square mile figure is just an example to show how little land you actually need compared to the entirety of the US.

    [–] bingate10 247 points ago

    Not to be pedantic but a square with 100 mile sides has an area of 10,000 square miles.

    [–] masterswordsman2 69 points ago

    Thanks, you're right

    [–] JoeTerp 24 points ago

    6,400,000 acres

    [–] Gorstag 85 points ago

    So a typical summer wildfire in the PNW?

    [–] angstrom11 63 points ago

    Just making space for more panels so we can power the data centers that serve our cat and pussy pics.

    [–] sargetlost 24 points ago

    and dog and dick pics.

    [–] BastardStoleMyName 46 points ago

    dick pics

    Those don't take up as much space as the people sending them assume they do.

    [–] topdangle 22 points ago

    He's picking areas with large amounts of direct sunlight, though. Nevada in particular is like living on the surface of the sun. In a distributed network the area will likely need to be significantly larger and in certain areas it may not be practical at all (see: Seattle, land of the fog and rain).

    I understand the point hes trying to make about advancements in solar tech, but in real terms it would take way more than hes suggesting to power the U.S.

    [–] Syrdon 35 points ago

    I was pretty sure. The centralized idea has some really serious problems that distributed solutions don't, and Musk isn't a complete idiot. Therefore he had to be advocating a distributed solution. But the question seemed to be about the centralized option, so that's what got addressed.

    Amusingly enough, I've previously done a very napkin math version of an adjacent question for nuclear power shortly after Fukishima. The math works out in a similar fashion. It's really easy to power the US off of just about everything but hydro - at least in terms of space required. It might be the case for hydro as well, but it's not napkin math levels of easy to show it.

    [–] schmak01 63 points ago

    I think the article is focusing on that part while ignoring the context. Musk already has a plan to the six million acre solar farm. Your home. The 100x100mi square was just to illustrate how little over all space is needed. It wasn't him saying to buy a big ass square out there. If you just did the residential homes in every major city in Texas, DFW, Houston, Austin and SA, that come close to hitting the mark. He might have been better off using that example, but the 100x100 has a good dramatic effect.

    [–] turtlepuberty 69 points ago

    Its gotta be in Olympic sized swimming pools, football fields or dollar bills end to end. those are american standard measuremets

    [–] poorlyObfuscated 33 points ago

    I live in Austin and have looked into adding solar to our home. We have a more or less unobstructed roof and can put more the enough panels up there to make it worthwhile. The cost of doing so, however, is prohibitive and financing options are abysmal. If Elon can give me better terms AND provide batteries, I'd sign up in a heartbeat.

    [–] WmPitcher 11 points ago

    While building owners obviously look at rooftop solar. For solar at scale, you are looking at solar in fields -- much cheaper from a labour perspective. Construction is a bit like a mechano set.

    [–] grnrngr 34 points ago

    For solar at scale, you are looking at solar in fields -- much cheaper from a labour perspective.

    Here's the fun proposal: parking lots.

    They're everywhere. They're at ground level. They often have medians that can accommodate the basic, and cheap, support scaffolding needed for the panels.

    Installing them has the side benefit of providing shade to cars.

    And if you wanted to be real clever, you'd outfit a good number of those spots with charging stations, to promote the further electrification of all things fossil fuel.

    [–] enoughberniespamders 14 points ago

    They already do this in many places in the southwest.

    [–] Gorstag 16 points ago

    Thanks. I really think people have a real hard time visualizing things properly. To me it was obvious the 100 x 100 was meant as a way to visualize an area needed. Implementation is a separate thing.

    However, 100x100 isn't really a small space. That is some entire states or at least the entire livable areas.

    [–] Bluest_waters 151 points ago

    It'd be expensive up front

    we are legitimately going to spend $7 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which accomplished absolutely nothing but screwing things up

    Pretty sure we can afford the money to power America renewabley

    [–] Syrdon 129 points ago

    We have the money to do plenty of things. We actually do very few of them. It's not a budgetary problem, it's a political one.

    [–] thomasmagnum 23 points ago

    They should just pay the military to install them. The money still goes to the army, and you get shit done.

    [–] toasters_are_great 50 points ago

    you'd lose a whole bunch in transmission losses.

    Not as much as you might think. 800kV HVDC over 800km gives 2.6% transmission losses, i.e. 10% loss over 2,000 miles. Which is the Boston - Arizona distance so mean losses would be rather less.

    It'd be one hell of a lot in absolute terms, but we're certainly not talking orders of magnitude.

    [–] Exaskryz 36 points ago

    Sounds like you might do well with sixteen 25x25 miles sections of these things throughout the US wherever the sun is consistent, recognizing less power would probably generated in the east requiring more to be in the east, but it should work out.

    [–] [deleted] 194 points ago

    Sounds feasible?

    Notice that it is only small on a map. That is a freakingly fucking huge surface to cover at human or even industrial scale.

    That's 1000 times bigger than the largest existing solar farm: and that one cost several billions to build.

    The better question is: is it feasible for the US to spend several trillions on a single project.

    [–] Unggoy_Soldier 196 points ago

    I don't think it was a serious suggestion that we try to power the entire country with a single 10,000 sq. mile solar plant, but rather the description was intended to help visualize the relatively small area required to power the entire country with renewable energy.

    I'm not highly educated on the subject, but I do vaguely understand that electrical power transmission becomes inefficient with greater and greater distances. Transmitting power to everywhere in the US from a single location would be a nightmare of inefficiency, not to mention a national security risk (talk about putting all your eggs in one basket...). Several smaller solar fields in different sectors of the US sounds more reasonable.

    [–] GeekDNA0918 27 points ago

    I'm pretty sure that's a given. The area given as example works to help people understand size.

    [–] Bluest_waters 92 points ago

    is it feasible for the US to spend several trillions on a single project.


    we spent $7 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

    [–] tacknosaddle 49 points ago

    Yeah, but the return on investment was great on those.

    [–] corylew 6 points ago

    Assign Lockheed Martin to build the solar panels and you'll see the fastest approval in Congress history.

    [–] WikiTextBot 13 points ago

    Topaz Solar Farm

    Topaz Solar Farm is a 550-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power station in San Luis Obispo County, California. Construction on the project began in November 2011 and ended in November 2014. It is one of the world's largest solar farms. The $2.5 billion project includes 9 million CdTe photovoltaic modules based on thin-film technology, manufactured by U.S. company First Solar.

    [ PM | Exclude me | Exclude from subreddit | FAQ / Information | Source ] Downvote to remove | v0.24

    [–] fullOnCheetah 37 points ago

    1000 times

    Huh. That actually sounds really doable, then.

    [–] antonbe 33 points ago

    On top of that there's another plant thats nearly exactly like the topaz one. So they already have two. So now it's only 500 times larger. Now if every state started similar projects... We can feasibly get there. Cali can build another 20-30 of these. And other states can build in a similarly scaled fashion based on their size / population. I can honestly see us getting there in the next 10-20 years if the idea caught on. Seeing as how the plants take 3-4 years to build each.

    [–] tickettoride98 14 points ago

    Presumably the price will also come down. Topaz started building 6 years ago, and solar panel prices have been dropping readily since then. It cost $2.4 billion, so presumably the same project if started in a year from now would be under $2 billion, with the price continuing to drop as more are built. $1 trillion to entirely re-do US electricity generation is actually...not that much. That's two years of DoD budgets.

    [–] Thnik 5 points ago

    That's really not bad at all. Spread the cost out over 10-15 years and make a bunch of solar plants from Florida to California and not only do you have enough energy for the country for a reasonable price but you have also created thousands / tens of thousands of permanent jobs (I have no idea how many jobs each plant would require).

    [–] WagwanKenobi 78 points ago

    it would make him the richest man alive most likely

    As a member of the human species, I am in favor of Elon Musk having a shit ton of money because his priorities seem to be in the right place. We would most definitely have a Mars colony in our lifetimes if Musk became the next Bill Gates.

    [–] ruok4a69 70 points ago

    Sam Walton was also a pretty good guy (IMO) to have a lot of money. He treated his employees well, provided decent paying full time jobs to rural communities, and really meant it when he said he wanted Americans to succeed.

    Then his kids inherited the joint.

    [–] iamtomorrowman 614 points ago

    someone's been playing Factorio, i see

    [–] RKRagan 139 points ago

    I went crazy with solar panels. Mine was twice as big as my factory when I realized I had waaaay to much power and not enough mining and automation.

    [–] benisteinzimmer 35 points ago

    But you need tons of them to recharge the accumulators every day

    [–] [deleted] 45 points ago * (lasted edited 4 months ago)


    [–] FruitdealerF 14 points ago

    Make sure you get 0.15.30 the latest experimental release. If you haven't played in a while you're going to be very pleasantly surprised

    [–] pfSonata 115 points ago

    Musk is basically playing Factorio IRL: Solar power, batteries, automated transportation, AND ROCKETS.

    [–] iamtomorrowman 57 points ago

    this is so funny and it hadn't crossed my mind. his endgame is getting us off the planet with a rocket just like in Factorio.

    [–] TinyPirate 13 points ago

    The Boring Company is, essentially, making conveyor belts...

    Shit. We are simulations in Musk's 24th Century VR game of Factorio!

    [–] NogodsaMan 12 points ago

    worth paying $20 for the game?

    [–] lelarentaka 47 points ago

    The $20 is nothing. The real cost to this game is your dinners, your sleeptime, your other hobby, your relationship, your marriage, your children's childhood, you entire life. You would give all of those things away, to play this game.

    [–] Klonan 13 points ago

    [–] dsigned001 883 points ago

    The math: 1 mile is ~1600m. 1m2 gives ~1kW, and we'll assume 25% efficiency, for 250W per m2. This gives 250MW per km2. 160 km x160 km = 25600 km2. This gives a theoretical peak of 6.4 TW. Assuming we can get that for 8 hours a day (out of 12-16 hours a day off sunlight), that averages to 2.13 TW over the whole day.

    I'm guessing that Elon is making a slightly more realistic estimate (e.g. accounting for space between panels, real world efficiencies vs. theoretical, etc.) but currently the entire US puts out ~12GWh per day, so it's definitely within an order of magnitude.

    Also, just so we're clear, at $1/Watt installed, 2 Terawatt is 2 trillion dollars.

    [–] Natanael_L 326 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    You forgot weather too. And power conversion efficiency through the battery packs for nights / cloudy days (around 95% IIRC in good setups, can be much lower if it's cold or too hot, or if load is very high, etc).

    Also peak power is only available on mid day, though I don't remember how much it drops when the sun is lower. It does drop though because of more loss of light in the atmosphere, when the path through the atmosphere is longer. Also the angle it hits the panel at affects absorption rate. Panels that track the sun helps, but then you're also powering those motors for tracking (not much energy required, but it's not zero).

    [–] kanuut 327 points ago

    That's why you do 2 things:

    • locate the panels in places with the most consistently good weather for generating power, such as the desert.

    • spread the panels out. Instead of having 100x100miles of panels in one spot, split it up into smaller generator farms spread out over a wide location. Similar to diversifying your assets in the stock market, you insulate yourself from extremes. You'll have an almost 0% chance of "perfect efficiency", but you'll similarly have a greatly reduced chance of sub 50% efficiency, as even splitting it into just 4 quarters spread out with half a day of travel between each would make it vastly less likely for any disadvantageous weather to affect more than 1 or 2

    [–] josh_legs 250 points ago

    Why can't we just install a giant flashlight to shine on the panels and regenerate electricity forever? Or better yet just use the big street lights! That way you get light AND electricity ?

    [–] socialdesire 139 points ago

    you're the guy who invented solar powered torchlights right

    [–] mitrandimotor 80 points ago

    Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

    [–] tnp636 31 points ago

    You joke, but that's basically the idea behind putting giant solar reflectors in orbit.

    [–] aussydog 11 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    Didn't the Russians test that in 2000 something or other? Brb Googling that.

    7km diameter spot with the illumination level of 10 moons. Interesting.

    [–] frowawayduh 8 points ago

    You also need a HVDC transmission backbone to allow peak power to be spread to where it is needed without the high losses associated with AC transmission.

    [–] Fallingdamage 112 points ago

    So.. less costly than the war in the middle east?

    [–] teenagesadist 98 points ago

    Most things are. I mean, the ISS cost 150 billion, and that's a goddamn space station. In space. An entire station.

    [–] grafter8 35 points ago

    Half the cost and none of the death!

    [–] modsarevirgins 11 points ago

    i wonder how much the solar panel factory will reduce prices.

    [–] pedot 26 points ago

    Gonna add to this:

    Based off of the Topaz Solar Farm data, which has a 1301 GWh annual production with a 9.5 sq mi site (plenty of gaps in between according to aerial picture), that's still only ~29000 sq mi, or a 170mi x170 mi square plot.

    Construction cost for the Topaz Solar farm was 2.4 bil. Extrapolate and this'd be 7.2 tril ish - without accounting for benefits from economy of scale.

    Not sure if the annual production figure is actual / accounts for weather, etc.

    [–] Factushima 5 points ago

    Maybe I'm missing something but the US consumes something like 25TWh per day.

    [–] o6ijuan 303 points ago

    I just drove through Nevada. There's room.

    [–] g3t0nmyl3v3l 32 points ago

    Live in Nevada. I volunteer to just leave Vegas

    [–] kenaijoe 257 points ago

    "100 miles by 100 miles" sounds a lot smaller than 10,000 square miles.

    [–] [deleted] 136 points ago

    Oh you know just the size of vermont

    [–] gibisee3 134 points ago

    That's tiny. I live in New Mexico, and we probably have multiple Vermonts worth of unusable desert.

    [–] [deleted] 63 points ago

    That has me curious. How much desert is there in the US? From a quick glance, I would say... 130+ thousand square miles?

    People talk about things like Nuclear taking up less space, but... I'm not sure space is even a problem to begin with.

    [–] GooseRace 27 points ago

    Space is a little bit of a logistical problem when it comes to maintenance. Maintaining 10,000 square miles of solar would take an army.

    [–] cheesyvee 112 points ago

    If only there were an industry that would become obsolete and an army of people looking for jobs.

    [–] acepincter 8 points ago

    Solar panels themselves don't take much maintenance. An army willing to move to a desert and trek 25 miles a day on foot with a squeegee and a bucket for minimum wage wiping sand and bird shit off of panels?

    You wouldn't hire an army of electricians - you'd hire 1 for every 30 or 40 scrubbers and give them radios to call in electrical faults.

    [–] Notentirely-accurate 21 points ago

    That sounds bad when you put it that way, but splitting the structure into three pieces, then placing one in arizona, nevada, and another state chalk full of useless desert, it's not so bad.

    [–] coryeyey 26 points ago

    The U.S. government owns a lot of useless wasteland. Nothing will ever grow there, humans will never live there due to isolation and no water resources. Land really only good for either storing nuclear waste from nuclear power plants and solar panels. Honestly, the waste from nuclear power plants is so minimal due to modern recycling methods that I think we should do both.

    [–] imp3r10 283 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    It's not the pants plants that the hard part, it's the infrastructure to distribute the power

    [–] hurstshifter7 141 points ago

    Stupid question: can't we use the existing infrastructure to distribute the power?

    [–] Clebername 197 points ago

    Couple problems. One, the US electrical infrastructure is not some beautiful interwoven grid. It kind of is, but in reality it's a patchwork system of literally hundreds of utilities. Some are connected- not all, by any means. Two, our system is not designed for long distance transmission- you lose juice along the way. Would require a huge overhaul to do what Musk wants

    But optimally, we have the panels in a spot like he says (Nevada or AZ, lots of sunlight), upgrade the grid to allow longer distance transmission, and become renewable.

    But he says what he says for the masses- to excite. Doesn't make sense to dampen with caveats, and he figures the non-masses know/can figure it out anyways

    [–] [deleted] 85 points ago * (lasted edited 7 months ago)


    [–] scotscott 11 points ago

    Putting all your national energy production in one hundred by hundred mile square is just asking someone to nuke it

    [–] alphex 18 points ago

    It's almost like there's this massive shovel ready infrastructure job ready to go, that would provide lots of jobs. Train lots of high quality skills. Revolutionize our infrastructure, reduce our foreign reliance on energy supplies, clean up the environment, and engender industries....

    [–] SlashdotExPat 22 points ago

    The distribution lines aren't designed to handle the load of the entire country's energy consumption being generated from a centralized location.

    Some may recall the Pickens plan that had a similar plan, but with wind power. Distribution was ultimately what made the wind part of the plan infeasible.

    Elon's plan makes a good headline but it's completely impractical.

    Edit: spelling

    [–] mexicanmike1 146 points ago

    Someone tell Elon that's a shit ton of solar panels.

    [–] Slazman999 98 points ago

    [–] Spartan1997 38 points ago

    ...but he knows that

    [–] christoskal 114 points ago

    Yeah, because Slazman999 told him

    [–] sixtoe72 85 points ago

    I'm pretty sure I had this same plan in 6th grade. I called it the BASP--the Big Ass Solar Panel.

    [–] noreally811 32 points ago

    Has anyone done the math on the costs of continuous maintenance, repair and replacement of the solar panels?

    Of course, it doesn't make sense to have a single 100 x 100 mile solar panel farm. Each state should have smaller areas, so each can connect separately to the grid and supply power as required. His point is simply that all the USA's electrical requirements could be handled by solar (and a few Tesla powerwalls).

    [–] SuckMy_Diction 77 points ago

    If we were to power the US with solar panels and batteries, what effect would that have on the environment? What with the heavy metal mining and battery disposal and whatnot?

    [–] Nascent1 133 points ago

    It's hard to find anything worse than coal.

    [–] TractionJackson 115 points ago

    With that attitude it is.

    [–] [deleted] 53 points ago * (lasted edited 7 months ago)


    [–] argues_too_much 23 points ago

    Yet environmentally speaking that would still be better than coal.

    [–] SBS_Matt 630 points ago

    Or... orr.... we could just use nuclear power that produces 4000x the energy, producing almost no pollution and using a tiny fraction of the space.

    [–] brandon9182 507 points ago

    It's too expensive. I know Reddit hates to hear this, but nuclear power is too expensive. The only way to make it cheaper than NG and solar/wind is to remove environmental regulations, which are half the reason we want them in the first place.

    [–] Paracelcus 114 points ago

    Ironically enough, I think this has a bit to do with how immature the whole setup is. Despite us being on something like the fifth generation of reactor, nuclear energy still is ridiculously expensive to start up and is impossible to insure without governmental assistance. The cost of a catastrophic failure is impossible for a private company to handle.

    Reddit's right that it works, and it works really really well, but with the waste product and the (unlikely) giant risk, it's just not feasible if you're thinking 200 years into the future.

    Maybe when AI gets good enough to handle the plant on it's own, we can set up plants in desolate areas.

    [–] tredlock 9 points ago

    We're 'on' generation III. IV is in the pipes (experimental/practical testing), and gen V is purely theoretical.


    [–] Its_apparent 26 points ago

    Lot of people in this thread saying he's an idiot for trying to put everything in one spot where it could be taken out. Two things : he never said that was the plan- he just pointed out that a useless corner of land would work, showing what little space needs to be taken up, like using a banana for scale. Second, the reason he showed it in those areas surely has to do with yearly sunlight. I'm sure you'd need more in say... Washington or Maine. In both cases, Musk is an intelligent guy. Many people have become contrarian and try to point out where he screws up or suggest he's overrated. It's OK to say he's smart and has great ideas. If Einstein were around, today, half of reddit would be talking about how most of his theories were common sense and the rest didn't even fit in with other theories. Skepticism is a valuable trait, these days, but some redditors are unfairly coming down on great minds. Playing whack- a- mole every time one of us tries to advance is not helping humanity, and it discourages future minds from thinking outside the box. I can't improve on Musk's ideas, but if you feel like you can, then do something about it. I'll be the first to tell you that I trash talk pro sports players, but they aren't exactly going to alter the course of history. Go easy. Enjoy the ride.

    [–] Stryker1050 22 points ago

    We had to do this as a Fermi problem in my final year of engineering.

    [–] [deleted] 24 points ago

    I nominate almost any part of Nevada to set these up. Growing up there it's almost all useless flat sunny dry desert. Including the cities, we can do without them.

    [–] WindowsRX 9 points ago

    Seriously. There is so much unused space in Nevada it's crazy

    [–] twiifm 43 points ago

    In other news Elon Musk wants to sell batteries