The impulse seems to be mainly driven by raw cultural aesthetics: a worship of individuals like Musk and Bezos as nimble innovators disrupting sclerotic government. All of which ignores both the dark side of unbound private sector visionaries and the practical reality that the government could attract exciting and innovative talent if, again, it was just willing to pay for it.
The biggest reason human beings have to go into space remains frivolous and impractical in the best and most glorious way: Because it’s there.
Read more "The embarrassing truth about SpaceX"
Shoving that reasoning into a private sector framework is always going to be an odd fit.
This month, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blew up, destroying Facebook’s $195-million-dollar satellite.
This event eerily reminds us about the failed Falcon 9 launch just 15 months earlier, where SpaceX’s rocket blew up as it approached orbit and destroyed $118 million dollars of NASA cargo. This is the second failure in succession, reminding the public of the “risks of spaceflight.”
Except that “risk of spaceflight” is just rhetoric by the government – the other orbit launching company, United Launch Alliance (ULA), has experienced a 100 percent success rate in launches over a course of 10 years, compared to SpaceX’s reckless six years in business.
Read more "Elon Musk: The Great Congressional Swindler"
The Department of Energy’s Inspector General revealed last week that the legendary solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra—a poster baby of the Obama stimulus—lied to the feds to get a $535 million loan guarantee before going bust in 2011. Solyndra is a cautionary tale, but the Obama Administration is still showing caution to the sun.
Read more "Big Solar’s Subsidy Bubble"
The chief technology officer of a technology supplier that enables Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot driving technology believes the carmaker is pushing the safety envelope too far.
“It is not designed to cover all possible crash situations in a safe manner,” Amnon Shashua, CTO and executive chairman at Israel-based Mobileye NV, told Reuters Wednesday.
Shashua’s comments came the same day a second fatal accident was revealed through a lawsuit filed against Tesla by the father of a man allegedly driving a Model S with the Autopilot engaged.
Read more "Autopilot tech supplier fears Tesla is pushing safety envelope too far"
The takeaway from the last 10 months in the solar industry should be that the long-term picture is bright, but there’ll be a lot of bumps along the way. Right now, the bumps will be in utility-scale solar and changing trends in the residential solar market. But by 2019 the market will be back to growth across the board.
Investors will want to stick to solar companies with solid balance sheets and technology differentiation. Long term, those are the companies that are going to win, even if it takes a few more years to sort out the industry’s winners and losers.
Read more "Solar Energy Faces a Rocky Road Ahead"
Congressional lawmakers have launched a formal investigation into whether solar-energy companies improperly received billions of dollars in tax incentives from the Obama administration.
Read more "Lawmakers Are Investigating Tax Incentives Received by Solar-Energy Firms!"
Lithium, the key component found in battery packs, is necessary to propel an electric vehicle. It’s the lifeblood of the vehicle, so to speak. The problem, however, is that lithium miners are having a hard time meeting the demand. And what is available is becoming stunning expensive.
Since the middle of 2015, lithium prices have jumped about 200%, reaching $20,000 per metric ton. And as lucrative as it’s become (and it will likely remain at those prices), it’s not as if the industry can easily ramp up output. Indeed, CEO Elon Musk has already commented “we would basically need to absorb the entire world’s lithium-ion production.”
More sources are being found and developed, but the math of the supply/demand dynamic is concerning. Battery prices could soar. Granted, they’ll soar for all EV companies, but Tesla Motors is the most vulnerable.
Read more "Tesla Motors Inc – How Much Worse Could It Get? (TSLA)"