The home battery will have a much larger effect that fusion power

The home battery will have a much larger effect that fusion power

I think that TM's soon-to-be-released home battery system will end up having a much larger effect on GHG emissions than fusion power. Even the most advanced fusion power project (ITER) is only aiming to achieve fusion for a few minutes. The home battery coupled with solar panels will immediately reduce GHG emissions and will pay for itself in a few years.

7thGate | 13 april 2015

This entirely depends on the economics of both projects. Its all about the cost of producing electrical power that is available all the time at sufficient scale for widespread use. I think you're right that solar+battery is likely to get there first (fusion might not get there at all...), but if something like Lockheed Martin's fusion reactor actually turns out to not be vaporware, it will be a really big deal.

Fusion slots better into the current paradigm of centralized power generation, and has a significant advantage in that it is dispatchable (theoretically). Solar has the advantage of currently actually working; it just needs incremental improvements to become economical, where fusion needs R&D before it even does anything productive at this point.

My5bAby | 13 april 2015

The anticipated "Tesla Battery" combined with "Full Spectrum" high efficiency solar panels will revolutionize and dramatically change the landscape of power production.

Brian H | 13 april 2015

No, check out The opposite of ITER in just about every respect.

"than fusion power"

grega | 13 april 2015

I think that we need a speedy transition onto better technologies - this requires moving forward with multiple different types of systems simultaneously. It also allows us to see the advantages of many alternatives and to expand on the best options faster (and the best option may be different near the equator to what's best in Alaska.

I'm personally hopeful for Thorium as a solar adjunct. (I'd also love to know if we can extract a few degrees out of sea water as a form of energy, perhaps using heat pump options, as that would have some potentially very useful side effects too!)

Oh thanks for the solar link @My5bAby

Timo | 13 april 2015

ITER is most expensive type of fusion, not most advanced. IOW. crap. ISDN of Fusion. It is far behind the real advances in the field.

spacevertex | 13 april 2015

Fusion is "Energy generation", batteries are for "Energy storage", two completely different systems for completely different applications.

grega | 14 april 2015

@spacevertex, in this case the intent is to compare solar to nuclear. Batteries are just the storage to make them both available 24hours.

spacevertex | 14 april 2015

I get it, however the post & comments ignores the fact that if Fusion becomes reality then batteries would no longer be needed for storage of solar power as solar power itself would become irrelevant.

Batteries would though continue to be useful for gadgets, the term which now includes cars like Tesla.

Timo | 14 april 2015

If a fusion like LPP experiment turns useful it would also make energy generation not centralized. Reactor is safe, clean and small enough to fit in basement of apartment building or large house. Grid becomes obsolete. It's actually small enough to fit in locomotive of a train, so overhead wires for electric trains would become obsolete, and every largish ship would become nuclear.

It is really game changing tech, if realized as imagined. Oil industry really would not like that, so no funding for LPP -like fusion, only for tokamak-like which are pretty much guaranteed to stay vaporware.

Jolinar | 14 april 2015


" solar power itself would become irrelevant."

that applies only in case that electricity from fusion would be cheaper than from solar panels. Not saying it can't happen in the future, but won't happen for many years to come.

spacevertex | 14 april 2015


Timo | 14 april 2015

It might happen sooner than most people think. Definitely sooner than solar gets in competitive levels to oil/coal etc.

Brian H | 14 april 2015

Not just a little cheaper. About 2 orders of magnitude. Changes the world.

carlgo2 | 14 april 2015

Wow on the fusion reactor. Had no idea and when a huge company with endless military contracts says it will happen, not "might" be feasible, then it is believable.

Not exactly secretive inventors working out of a mini-storage building promising magical breakthroughs.

It does indeed change everything and really I would think starting now. Would you invest in a huge long-term energy project right now, knowing that a truck could drive up, plug in and run a whole city?

If this technology is being revealed to the public, what do you think might be happening on the military front? Ships and energy weapons perhaps? It is likely more advance tech than they are letting on.

spacevertex | 14 april 2015

Here comes the conspiracy theorists.

Fusion is a game changer, the break through has been still elusive hence alternate technologies are gaining ground.
If Fusion becomes a reality at an affordable cost, it would change the energy equation altogether.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are already being invested by the brightest minds on the best brain power and Elon has himself expressed desire to explore Fusion generation, so stay tuned, new material for newer conspiracies coming soon.

Brian H | 14 april 2015

The Focus Fusion reactor cannot power 'a whole city'. 5MW, perhaps a neighbourhood or factory. Just spread 'em around wherever needed.

DTsea | 15 april 2015

Spacevertex +100!

Red Sage ca us | 15 april 2015

Mr. Fusion by October 2015, or bust!

Red Sage ca us | 15 april 2015

Mr. Fusion by October 2015, or bust!

carlgo2 | 16 april 2015

I have a collection of old Popular Science magazines. There is one article on future atomic powered cars, about 30 feet long and running on special highways built just for them that would allow for 200mph speeds.

Not sure why we don't have this by now....

However, if a fusion reactor can be fitted to a truck, it is only a matter of time when they will fit in a thermos and power our 200 mph cars along their special highways. Musk was probably more interested in the idea of getting to Mars in a month, and then powering the planet.

Then the size of a BB for our smart watches and phones...

BH is right that the truck-sized unit would not power a big city. I think they said a city of 100,000 people. Not bad though. You could put them into old industrial buildings, as many as needed. If you can build one you can build thousands on an assembly line.

7thGate | 16 april 2015

I wonder how fast 100 megawatts of power can get a truck moving. I'm guessing you hit structural stability issues like the truck being ripped apart by the forces involved, melting or going airborne before you have power constraints with that much juice...that's 200 times the power output of a S85D.

Timo | 16 april 2015

Reactor core of that 5MW fusion is small enough to fit in a car with room to spare. Heck, you could fit it in a lawnmower. Problem is shielding, even with aneutronic boron-hydrogen reaction there are some neutrons from contamination of the source elements, and collecting that energy, 5MW worth of capacitors is not exactly small.

Maybe someday we know how to contain neutrons without using bulky structures, but not yet.

Brian H | 17 april 2015

Requires a bank of capacitors that won't fit a car. The minimum space is about the size of a small suburban garage. Not usable for a car; maybe a large van or a truck.

carlgo2 | 18 april 2015

Eventually they will be miniaturized, but it won't matter so much as when these power plants are being installed by the thousands there will be long range batteries, quick charging technologies and chargers everywhere. Charging will not be inconvenient at all, and will always be a lot cheaper for EV use and wires to houses will be cheaper than garage fusion devices for quite some time.

Might be ok for large factories.

We might see military and aircraft use though, as being self-contained would be useful and the power could be used for energy weapons.

Guy2095 | 18 april 2015


"when a huge company with endless military contracts says it will happen" the one thing you can be sure of is that it will be cost-plus and not affordable.

Brian H | 19 april 2015

Capacitors depend on volume, not mass. Let us know when you have discovered how to miniaturize volume.

carlgo2 | 20 april 2015

@Guy2095: You are right. However, aerospace/defense contractors do treat civilian side projects differently than military ones. They have to deliver on results and contain costs.

The reactor is going to be demoed and then mass produced. This is more like building cars in volume, pretty much the opposite of a typical military project, LM's F-35 being about the worst example of cost-plus funding.

Grinnin'.VA | 20 april 2015

OP: Given that the only known practical fusion device is a thermonuclear bomb, I'd guess you're right.

Thank our luck stars, so far no one has ever used a thermonuclear bomb.
I think that's because there is a strong consensus across many groups that such a thing would do one hell of a lot of damage. So they seem to be useful only in threatening to use one. But the expected damage is so horrendous that all of the countries that have built them wouldn't dare use one. So how credible is a threat to use one?

Bottom Line: Nuclear fission seems to be useless. But of course, for the last 60 years or so, some "experts" have been predicting that they will make a practical nuclear fission device that generates electricity. Just give them enough money, and they promise... 20 years later they repeat this same scam to a new generation.

science-isbetter | 20 april 2015


I don't get your point. Most of France's (75%) electricity is nuclear (fission, of course). Even some state in the US are close to 50% (Illinois...48%). All of USA is 20% fission.

Do you mean literally using a bomb to create electricity?

Red Sage ca us | 21 april 2015

It isn't actually nuclear power being transmuted to electricity... It is instead nuclear powered steam turbine engines attached to generators that produce electricity. Basically, they replace the heat generated by coal or natural gas with the heat from a fission reaction. Brute force. It works, but is nowhere near as 'clean' as I would like.

Grinnin'.VA | 21 april 2015

@ science-isbetter | April 20, 2015


I don't get your point. Most of France's (75%) electricity is nuclear (fission, of course). Even some state in the US are close to 50% (Illinois...48%). All of USA is 20% fission.

We're talking about two different things: I was responding to a post about nuclear fusion, which is quite different from nuclear fission. In fission, heavy isotopes split apart releasing energy. In fusion, light isotopes (so far on the earth, only hydrogen) join together to form heavier isotopes while releasing energy. After several decades trying, nuclear fusion researchers have failed to find a practical way to control nuclear fusion.

Timo | 21 april 2015

@Grinning; You did write fission, not fusion in your previous post.

Timo | 21 april 2015

@Red Sage; LPP experiment fusion differs from most other nuclear reactors in that it converts plasma directly to electricity, not using steam engines between conversions. That's one point that makes it so small.

roseamanda60 | 22 april 2015

What I believe is that this technology will come to save us.These are efficiently built models. This is extremely creative invention.

Grinnin'.VA | 22 april 2015

@ Timo | April 21, 2015

@Grinning; You did write fission, not fusion in your previous post.

I assume your correct: I wrote the wrong word, confusing the discussion. I apologize for that.

@Red Sage; LPP experiment fusion differs ... in that it converts plasma directly to electricity, not using steam engines ... That's one point that makes it so small.

The last time I read anything about nuclear fusion experiments, here's what I read:

1. No such experiment has ever controlled the fusion in a stable, sustainable manner.

2. No such experiment has captured any net positive electrical energy.

3. No such experiment is anywhere near demonstrating an ability to generate electricity at costs competitive with coal plants, windmills, PV cells, etc.

Researchers started 'predicting' that they would do such things "within 20 years" back in the 1960s. AFAIK, they are still making such 'predictions', but now the projected date for such progress has slipped from the 1980s to the 2030s. I think I see a pattern. It appears that such progress will take about 20 more years from NOW. As "NOW" keeps advancing, it looks like there is no reasonable expectation that the latest generations of nuclear fusion researchers will live to see their dreams fulfilled.

science-isbetter | 22 april 2015


I understand the difference between fission and fusion. I just asked you why you thought fission was useless. I see that you clarified. Thank you. All of my posts have at least one typo.

JGB | 22 april 2015

Hey Elon, here’s an idea, swap my 60 for a 85 I’ll kick in a couple of thousand, then Tesla can sell my 60 for ten thousand to John Q public. Win Win all around.

Timo | 22 april 2015

@Grinnin; LPP gets fusion constantly and in controlled form. It's the net energy that still requires further improvements.

So, 1 done, 2 and 3 still needs work.

Grinnin'.VA | 23 april 2015

@ Timo | April 22, 2015

@Grinnin; LPP gets fusion constantly and in controlled form.

That's news to me. Could you please provide a link to the reports about it that I somehow missed?

Timo | 23 april 2015

It's somewhere in their website, freely available but apparently well hidden, I have read that result when it happened first time and they were in stage in proving that this kind of reactor can produce fusion in first place, but in their later reports they do not mention that at all. Can't find it right now.

It's controlled because it doesn't require maintaining the reaction. What this kind of fusion reactors do is compressing a tiny amount of matter with magnetic "pinch" and capturing the resulting energy. It's pulse, that's why capacitors are needed, for both creating that pinch and capturing the energy. You flip a switch and it stops immediately. You flip it again and it starts immediately.

Note that they haven't yet got boron-hydrogen reaction done which is a goal for two reasons a) abundant source elements and b) reaction is aneutronic. That requires a lot bigger energies than deuterium-tritium.