Buchtip: Der Mann, der zum Mars will

(C.O.) Elon Musk ist zwar erst eher jugendliche 44 Jahre alt, hat aber bereits drei der zukunftsträchtigsten Unternehmen der Welt (mit-)begründet: Paypal revolutionierte das Zahlen im Internet, mit Tesla schuf er das erste wirklich erfolgreiche Elektroauto und sein Raumfahrtunternehmen SpaceX ist die weltweit einzige Firma, die schwere Raumschiffe ins All und wieder sicher zurück bringen kann – zumindest meist, denn erst kürzlich explodierte ein “Dragon”-Raumschiff beim Start.

Musk ist so einer der bekanntesten Entrepreneure des frühen 21. Jahrhunderts geworden, durchaus auf Augenhöhe mit Apple-Gründer Steve Jobs oder dem Amazon-Milliardär Jeff Bezos. Auch finanziell: Mit einem Vermögen von rund zwölf Milliarden Euro ist Musk heute einer der reichsten Männer der Welt. Seine spannende Lebensgeschichte zeichnet der US-Journalist Vance nun in einer soeben erschienenen Biografie des Unternehmers (“Tesla, PayPal, SpaceX – Wie Elon Musk die Welt verändert”) nach.

Rückschläge stoppen ihn nicht
Dabei wird schnell klar: Dieser Mann wird, wenn ihn angesichts seines Überschall-Lebensstils nicht der Schlag trifft, die Welt wohl stärker verändern als fast alle anderen Unternehmer der letzten Jahrzehnte. Mit einer Mischung aus beeindruckender Intelligenz, fanatischem Arbeitstempo und der völligen Unfähigkeit, “Nein” als Antwort zu akzeptieren, schaffte er in der Autoindustrie genauso wie im Raumfahrtgeschäft, was alle Experten für unmöglich gehalten haben: mit Hilfe völlig neuer Technologien und Denkansätze zu neuen, überlegenen Lösungen zu kommen.

Musk ist offenbar kaum zu stoppen : “Er hat Ziele, die er erreichen will, egal was es kostet. Der Mann wird nicht aufhören. Geht einmal etwas schief, macht Musk einfach weiter. Tesla stand immer wieder kurz vor dem Aus. Aber sogar bei schlimmen Rückschlägen bricht Musk nicht zusammen, sondern fängt noch einmal von vorn an.” Für seine Umwelt und seine Angestellten dürfte das nicht immer komfortabel sein. “Die Beschäftigten fürchten ihn”, schreibt Vance. “Sie bewundern ihn. Sie geben ihr Leben für ihn auf und das meistens alles gleichzeitig.” Als etwa ein Mitarbeiter nicht an einer Firmen-Veranstaltung teilnahm, weil er bei der Geburt seines Kindes anwesend sein wollte, mailte ihm Elon Musk angeblich: “Das ist keine Entschuldigung. Ich bin extrem enttäuscht. Sie müssen klären, wo Ihre Prioritäten liegen. Wir verändern die Welt und die Geschichte und entweder sind Sie dabei oder nicht.” (Musk hat später dementiert, diese Nachricht geschrieben zu haben. Vance blieb bei seiner Darstellung.)

Was wie Größenwahn klingt, ist freilich durchaus faktenbasiert. Tesla bildet heute eine ernst zu nehmende Konkurrenz für die etablierten Autokonzerne, und auch im Weltraum sorgt Musk für eine Revolution: “Dank Musk werden die Amerikaner in zehn Jahren vielleicht die modernsten Autobahnen der Welt haben – ein System aus Tausenden von mit Solarstrom versorgten Ladestationen, genutzt von lautlosen Elektroautos. Bis dahin könnte auch SpaceX schon täglich Raketen starten, die Menschen und Ausrüstung in Dutzende Ecken des Weltraums befördern, und längere Reisen zum Mars vorbereiten.”

Daneben errichtet Musk gerade das größte Gebäude der Welt (eine Batterien-Fabrik für über 5 Milliarden Euro) und plant unter dem Projektnamen “Hyperloop” eine Art Rohrpost für Menschen, die mit Überschallgeschwindigkeit in Kapseln durch oberirdische Röhren von Stadt zu Stadt sausen sollen. Glaubhaft beschreibt Vance, dass es dem gebürtigen Südafrikaner nicht ums Geld geht, sondern um eine Mission. Während Mark Zuckerberg (“Facebook”) uns letztlich bloß dabei hilft, Katzenfotos weiterzureichen, will Musk “die Menschheit vor einer selbst herbeigeführten oder versehentlichen Auslöschung bewahren”.

“Halten Sie mich für verrückt?”
Deshalb plant Musk allen Ernstes, in fernerer Zukunft mit der Besiedelung des Planeten Mars zu beginnen. “Ich würde beim Sterben gerne daran denken können, dass die Menschheit noch eine leuchtende Zukunft vor sich hat,” sagt er, “wenn wir bis dahin das Problem der erneuerbaren Energien gelöst haben und auf dem Weg sind, eine multiplanetare Spezies mit einer sich selbst erhaltenden Zivilisation auf einem anderen Planeten zu werden, für ein worst-case-Szenario, in dem das menschliche Bewusstsein ausgelöscht wird, dann wäre das in meinen Augen wirklich gut”.

“Glauben Sie, dass ich verrückt bin?” fragte Musk seinen Biografen bei einer der ersten Treffen. Was vielleicht die irgendwie falsche Frage ist.

Sachbuch

Tesla, PayPal, SpaceX – Wie Elon Musk die Welt verändert

Ashlee Vance

FinanzBuch Verlag, 360 Seiten, 20,60 Euro

One comment

  1. Mme. Haram

    Der Energie-Sachbuchautor Alex Epstein auf FB zu Musk:

    Many people have asked what I think about Elon Musk’s recent presentation of the Powerwall. The Powerwall is an insanely expensive, farcical solution to a non-problem, whose fraudulent misrepresentation by Musk will do more harm than good (though some of the tech is good).
    The current types of energy processes that win out on a free market involve using naturally concentrated, stored, and plentiful raw energy materials such as coal/oil/gas (hydrocarbons aka fossil fuels) uranium/thorium (nuclear), and large concentrations of flowing water (hydro). The most efficient way to produce and distribute that energy is, when available, a centralized power plant with an electricity grid. That enables economies of scale to make every unit of electricity cheaper (and cleaner), and to give you as much or as little electricity as you want, on demand. It also renders it unnecessary to store most of the energy we use.
    This is a good thing, as storing electricity is extremely expensive. This is largely why a Tesla car costs 80 grand or so even with the government forcing taxpayers to subsidize them $7-15K. When we use naturally stored fuels like oil or uranium, we don’t have to pay those high prices–we only need storage for applications where you absolutely can’t connect to a grid, such as carrying your iPhone around. And as we’ve seen with the iPhone and, more pronounced, with the Apple Watch, it’s very easy to run out of battery power because it doesn’t store much power for the money. And they lose their storage power over time. The best portable storage source we have is oil, and the reason oil prices are higher than coal or gas prices that that portability is so hard to achieve.
    Elon Musk’s announcement showed a very pretty battery that is no cheaper than existing batteries, though he dishonestly implied there was a price revolution. The coolest thing about the battery was that it seems to combine well with other batteries/Powerwalls of the same kind, which would allow you to scale a lot.
    The alleged purpose of the Powerwall is to overcome the intermittency/unreliability problem of solar. But this is not a problem that needs to be overcome. If fossil fuels were problematic, we could use cheap nuclear to power all the grids in the world. Musk didn’t even entertain that possibility. Go to Arizona and see how cheap their electricity is from one of the biggest nuclear plants in the world. (If you want to know how cheap nuclear could be, listen to my Power Hour with Rod Adams.)
    But fossil fuels do not have some catastrophic flaw–they are overwhelmingly positive in their impacts (see: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels). At the beginning of his presentation Musk glibly asserted that fossil fuels “suck”–even though they power his life and built his cars not to mention filing most of their batteries with electricity from gas or coal. To represent their impact he showed, not a world that is getting better than ever, but a seemingly ominous cloud of smoke that was actually steam. He chose not to show the deadly mining operations in China that are used to make the materials for solar panels, wind turbines, and his batteries. So much for objectivity.
    The main refrain he uses to condemn fossil fuels is to cite the fact that we are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He calls this a “crazy chemical experiment.” Well, if that’s true, then surely nature is the greatest chemical experimenter of all time, because while he have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from .03% to .04%, nature has at times in history increased CO2 to 10-20X today’s levels–and life on Earth thrived.
    I have documented exactly how the greenhouse effect works (logarithmically, not exponentially), how global greening from CO2 is probably more significant than global warming, and how the superior energy we get from fossil fuels would negate any added climate danger, if it existed, 10 times over because access to energy protects us from all climate danger, natural or man-made. I have cited, including to Musk on Twitter, the data on how climate related deaths fall as fossil fuel use rises, for the reasons I just mentioned.
    But Musk seems to believe deeply the green dogma that there is something wrong with man altering nature–so he *expects* it to lead to some kind of disaster and believes that it is *intrinsically* evil to use fossil fuels. So we should pay any cost for eliminating fossil fuel use.
    In this case, that means using solar energy, which is highly dilute and intermittent, which means creating unbelievable amounts of storage capacity *that are completely unnecessary if we use truly efficient energy sources.*
    How much does this cost?
    On an individual level, Musk was deliberately vague on how many Powerwalls and solar panels you would need. Instead of discussing actual panel area and cost (without subsidies) for solar panels in your neighborhood, he showed the total theoretical amount of them as a seemingly small square on a giant map of the US. I’d like someone to take the surface area of all the buildings in the US and show how big they appear if you bunch them all together. The Pentagon wouldn’t even show up as a dot, I’m guessing. Musk also didn’t mention that the Powerwall is not very powerful. It can’t generate enough electricity per second to power the appliances in your home at the same time, so you need to buy a bunch of them.
    But Musk did give a global number. He said you would need 2 billion “Powerpacks.” While the figure he kept repeating was $3500 for a Powerwall, a Powerpack is 10 Powerwalls, so a Powerpack is around $35,000. (Again, these are garden-variety battery prices, there is no major cost reduction here.) And each one lasts for only 10 years. And even then, not really, as these are lithium batteries, and every Tesla or iPhone owner knows that the amount of charge they can hold degrades over time, certainly 10 years. I mention all these details in part because Musk didn’t. He is incredibly dishonest in what he omits, which matters when he is telling a civilization how to live (or suffer).
    But here’s the basic math, assuming 10 years is true.
    To get a global energy storage system, by Musk’s numbers, for today’s levels of energy use (where 3 billion people have virtually no energy) that would be unnecessary if we continued to use efficient power sources and delivery systems, we need to pay Tesla $35,000 a Powerpack for 2 billion Powerpacks, for a grand total of $70 trillion every 10 years. That’s $7 trillion a year, not for energy, just the ability to store and reuse unreliable energy.
    There is a lot more to analyze in terms of the illogic of Musk’s presentation.
    One notable example: all the prices he cites are only as “low” as they are because all the steps of making these batteries and solar panels are powered by fossil fuels. No one is mining solar panels with solar paneled machines or making batteries with solar-powered factories.
    As Petr Beckmann once said, these are “rich men’s toys”–a consumer item for those with the right combination of wealth and guilt.
    To repeat what I said at the beginning about the Powerwall: It is an insanely expensive, farcical solution to a non-problem, whose fraudulent misrepresentation by Musk will do more harm than good (though some of the tech is good).
    More harm than good because this kind of presentation justifies the massive proposed bans of fossil fuels that are up for debate, particularly later this year at an international conference in Paris.
    What I found so sad about the event is that we should have events like this one seemed to be, with beautiful products solving big problems. Right now those products involve things like turning practically endless supplies of useless rocks into life-giving energy–the shale revolution. Musk wants to stop that revolution. I want to stop him from stopping it. Then, if I am free to choose the best forms of energy, maybe I’ll buy a Powerwall to back them up.

    darunter auf Reaktionen:
    Some guy said $7 trillion isn’t that much. That’s 10% of the entire global economy! It’s also how much we spend for energy now. Again, this is not for energy, but for unnecessary storage of more expensive energy.

    People say batteries will become cheaper as you produce more because of economies of scale. But this is a complete misunderstanding of economies of scale–and the fact that there are often diseconomies of scale.

    For example, why not say that if we produce twice as much oil, it’ll become cheaper. Twice as many diamonds? Twice as much gold?

    In all those cases we’d expect the prices to go way up, because our efficiency in accessing the new and usually harder to get supply of the raw material isn’t high enough.
    The same applies to a battery with all kinds of different materials.
    Economics tells us that we often have no idea how things scale, and it’s deadly to assume that they will scale well. (In an energy context, for example, solar/wind/unreliables scale terribly–the more you have, the worse your grid.)

    What you need to do is prove your case on a free market. Not by trying to force your half-baked scheme on the entire world.

    Re: prices going down “exponentially,” that term is thrown around a lot with no mathematical accuracy. Certainly it doesn’t apply to battery prices. And it doesn’t apply to solar power as a whole. People just look at the panel prices, but the question is the price of the whole system. The fact that it needs to be subsidized is proof of that. Because it’s unreliable you can’t compare cost per unit to cost per unit of reliables (unless you add mass-storage, and we just saw what that does to cost) because the unreliability adds all kinds of costs. Coal is less efficient, gas is less efficient, nuclear is less efficient when it has to cycle up and down based on the the whims of sunbeams and wind gusts.

    All of this is concealed by those who know and evaded by those who should investigate, again because they subscribe to the green religion. See Chapter 9 of my book for this root cause, and chapters 2 and 3 for more details on energy tech and economics.

Kommentar verfassen

Du kannst die folgenden HTML-Codes verwenden:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Diese Website verwendet Akismet, um Spam zu reduzieren. Erfahre mehr darüber, wie deine Kommentardaten verarbeitet werden .