The founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest electric vehicle and battery companies wants us to “drill baby drill.”
The world must continue to extract oil and gas in order to sustain civilization, while also developing sustainable sources of energy, Tesla founder Elon Musk told reporters at a conference in Norway on Monday.
“Realistically I think we need to use oil and gas in the short term, because otherwise civilization will crumble,” Musk said on the sidelines of an energy conference in the southern city of Stavanger.
Asked if Norway should continue to drill for oil and gas, Musk said: “I think some additional exploration is warranted at this time.”
“One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy,” he said. “That will take some decades to complete.”
Mr. Musk’s comments are timely, if perhaps obvious to some. The world, and in particular Europe, is in desperate need of a boost in oil and gas production to help tamp down prices and fill the dearth in supply created by foolish European energy policies.
But many of the world’s leading policymakers instead continue to have a myopic focus on boosting only wind and solar, despite the fact that new wind and solar will not be an overnight panacea. Questions of reliability aside, the renewable sector is not insulated from many of the global forces currently roiling other businesses.
From the Wall Street Journal:
At the same time, Mr. Opedal noted that supply-chain disruptions are hurting some of their renewable-energy suppliers’ output and business outlooks, despite demand for their products. “Some of the suppliers within renewables [are] not making money, so we need to make sure that we are able to move the projects we already have forward,” he said.
The costs and scarcity of energy have driven debates over the speed of governments’ and companies’ transitions from oil and gas to lower-carbon energy sources.
The speed of the transition is indeed a question worthy of serious thought, as is the consideration of which sources we’re to transition to. After all, emissions reductions are not the only factor to be weighed in selecting a sustainable energy mix. Issues of reliability, national security, affordability, and land-use all deserve a seat at the table.
Fortunately, Mr. Musk appears to take a pragmatic view towards an energy source that meets all the requisite conditions.
Per the Journal:
“I’m also pronuclear,” Mr. Musk said.
“We should really keep going with the nuclear plants. I know this may be an unpopular view in some quarters. But I think if you have a well-designed nuclear power plant, you should not shut it down, especially right now,” he said.
The sentiment echoes what he has said publicly before about the continued necessity of nuclear power if we’re to pursue a sustainable energy future.
Countries should be increasing nuclear power generation! It is insane from a national security standpoint & bad for the environment to shut them down.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 26, 2022
Elon Musk is undoubtedly a complicated figure. He has given people on all sides of the political spectrum reason to dislike him at one point or another.
As is often the case, his position as a titan of industry has allowed him to reap massive windfalls in corporate welfare, much to the chagrin of anti-rent-seeking, free-market types like myself.
And after decades of being in the good graces of most progressives, his recent questioning of certain orthodoxies and his penchant for Twitter-trolling have earned him quite a few enemies on the political left.
But while one may have issues with Mr. Musk’s politics or his receipt of government largesse, one cannot ignore the fact that he is the embodiment of American dynamism and innovation. His company has almost single-handedly created a mass-market for electric vehicles in the U.S. and continues to be one of the only reliable providers of effective batteries and charging stations.
He has been at the leading edge of the so-called energy transition for years, and continues to uphold many of the environmental movement’s pieties about renewables.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Musk said work on developing battery-storage technology is key to making the most of investments in wind, solar and geothermal energy.
At the same time, he also seems to acknowledge the limitations of those technologies, profitable as they may be for his company.
When even the battery and electric vehicle kingpin of the world is essentially calling for a strategy of “drill baby drill” plus nuclear, perhaps we should listen.