Tech pioneer or closet bond villain?

21st February 2018
Lanna Cooper


For many, the jury seems to still be out on Elon Musk. Is the larger than life billionaire technocrat really as good as his current CV? Well, he’s the Co-founder of PayPal, Creator of the Tesla car company and, most recently, the man who looks to have put new life into the quest for space exploration and maybe travel.

Not to mention SolarCity, a major provider of solar power systems in the US, and then there’s the company behind what is claimed to be the world’s biggest battery.

Installed by an Elon Musk company 125 miles north of Adelaide, Australia, the 100MW battery is connected to a wind farm run by the French energy company Neoen. It stores the power generated by the wind farm and then delivers it when the load exceeds normal supply. Recent experience there show it works.

He really has achieved a lot in his 46 years and looks set to achieve a lot more in the years ahead. Take Tesla cars as one example. Musk has to be applauded for putting together a creative team of car designers and makers who have come up with stylish-looking cars (and lately trucks) that have shown traditional car makers a clean pair of heels (or tyres) both in terms of technology, performance and, the key to EVs, battery range.

People we know who own or have driven a Tesla have nothing but praise for the car. There are rumours though that the company cannot make enough to satisfy demand. Nice problem to have and it will be interesting to see how that pans out in the months to come.

His Falcon Heavy Rocket, which was successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this month, is the most interesting development in space technology for years. Put aside the novelty of a Tesla convertible complete with a ‘spaceman’ as the payload, the launch appeared problem-free with the amazing spectacle of the two rocket boosters - supposedly themselves recycled - returning to earth and landing intact for future re-use. Musk’s claim that he will make space flights and travel affordable (which depends on your bank balance of course) seems to have taken a big step forward. Over to the Branson team for the next move?

PayPal apart, Musk is a major user of electronics in all its forms and if he carries on making similar technology leaps in what he demands from our industry, it can only be a positive.

On the face of things, we are certainly an admirer of Elon Musk and his many achievements. Is he too good to be true? No, just look at Tesla and the Falcon Rocket. Only time will tell if it’s all smoke and mirrors and there’s no money or backing to see it all through - but it is fun while it lasts.

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