Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk believes the best way to defeat global warming and save the world is if the government gives him and his ilk the money and resources needed to build 100 lithium ion factories.
“We actually did the calculations to figure out what it would take to transition the whole world to sustainable energy… and you’d need 100 gigafactories,” Musk told actor Leonardo DiCaprio during an interview for the actor’s global warming-themed documentary, “Beyond The Flood.”
The California-based company aims for the so-called “gigafactory” to become the largest building in the world by footprint at 5.8 million square feet and second largest by total square footage of over 13 million.
One hundred more gigafactories would, therefore, take up approximately 580 million square feet of space, dwarfing every other human-made structure by magnitudes.
Nearly 1,000 people are working around the clock to complete Tesla’s gigafactory, which is expected to mass-produce lithium ion batteries at a site near Reno, Nevada by 2016. Tesla received $1.4 billion in taxpayer support from Nevada in 2014 to build the gigafactory.
The plant, once completed, could be capable of churning out 105 gigawatt hours of battery cells by 2020, or enough to power 1.2 million Model S sedans, 50,000 of which were built in 2015.
Producing the material needed to make lithium ion batteries often-times leads to incredible amounts of environmental destruction.
A report conducted by the Washington Post in October laid out in excruciating detail some of the effects mining graphite, which is one of the key components in Tesla’s lithium battery, has on Chinese communities.
One couple living in Jixi, a city near the Russian border, said graphite dust covers their corn crops so much that simply walking outside leaves their faces blackened, according to the report. The dust also leaches into the couple’s house, infusing itself into the food and water.
Musk deflects the issue, instead pointing the dirty finger at the oil industry.
“The fossil fuel industry is the biggest industry in the world,” Musk added. “They have more money and more influence than any other sector. The more that there can be a sort of popular uprising against that, the better, but I think the scientific fact of the matter is we are unavoidably headed towards some level of harm.”
The only way to combat that situation, according to Musk, is to somehow rejigger the system in a way that forces the government to set the rules in favor of the renewable energy industry. A shift of this type would incentivize other mega car companies to jump on board Tesla’s electric vehicle market.
“The thing that’s really going to make a difference is if companies that are much bigger than Tesla do the same thing. If the big industrial companies in China and the U.S. and Europe, the big car companies, if they also do this, then collectively we an accelerate the transition to sustainable energy,” Musk said.
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