When Elon Musk announced he was buying Twitter almost a year ago, one of his biggest supporters was a then-private citizen and sometimes columnist named Danielle Smith. Like Musk, Smith — who is now premier of Alberta — was a vocal proponent of the most expansive definition of free speech, one that just happened to align with her long-standing habit of saying controversial things. And like Musk, she had an obvious disdain for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his handling of the occupation of Ottawa. She even reached out to him on Twitter a few months later, when she was running for the leadership of the United Conservative Party, to ask if Musk could help Alberta “bypass the new @justintrudeau internet censorship law,” as though that was even a thing.

Ironically, while she continues to pretend that Trudeau is her province’s greatest threat, the real danger might come from Musk. He made that clear in Tesla’s most recent investor presentation, where he helped lay out what the company is calling its “Master Plan 3.0” that takes direct aim at fossil fuels and their role in heating and powering our homes. “There is a clear path to a fully sustainable Earth — with abundance,” he said. “I'm just often shocked and surprised by how few people realize this.”

That path revolves around a few key areas, all of which intersect with products Tesla sells or plans to sell in the future. There’s switching to electric vehicles, a process already well underway. There’s adding huge volumes of renewable energy to the world’s existing power grid. There’s green hydrogen and other large-scale industrial processes that require clean sources of energy. And there’s installing heat pumps to meet the heating and cooling needs of homes, businesses and industry.

Drew Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice-president of powertrain and energy engineering, was even more blunt about how the company intends to travel this path. “This is the product that retires fossil fuels,” he said of the company’s Megapack, the large-scale rechargeable lithium-ion battery intended for utility-scale energy storage. “One power plant at a time.” And while making all of these changes won’t be cheap, Musk and Tesla officials believe it will cost 40 per cent less than continuing to rely on fossil fuels. All the assumptions and calculations that inform their so-called “Master Plan 3.0” will apparently be detailed in a forthcoming white paper.

It would be easy to dismiss all of this as a deliberate distraction from the lack of progress on a mass-market electric vehicle model, one some analysts expected might be announced at this event. And as Gizmodo’s Lauren Leffer noted, there are still a bunch of promises from 2017’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” that haven’t come close to being fulfilled, from electrified high passenger-density urban transport to a fully autonomous fleet of Tesla robo-taxis. Given the ongoing distraction that his Titanic-like stewardship of Twitter has become, it’s not hard to imagine Musk missing his targets here as well.

But with the exception of his foray into social media mogulship, betting against Musk has been a mostly losing proposition over the last two decades. That’s especially true with Tesla, which has single-handedly upended the entire global auto sector. Now, every major auto manufacturer in the world is racing to compete with Tesla and build the electric vehicles it made popular.

The oil and gas industry, on the other hand, has been a bit slower to respond. That’s especially true in Alberta, where its corporate leaders refuse to believe demand for their products will ever decline. “Most economists expect that we’re going to continue to be growing the use of oil and gas at least over the next one to two decades,” outgoing Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix told the CBC’s Matt Galloway in an interview on Monday. “People are not doing that because they don’t care about the environment. They’re doing that because these products are absolutely necessary.”

They’re necessary today. But if Musk and his colleagues at Tesla have their way, they won’t be nearly as necessary going forward. And while that would be good news for the planet, it would be very bad news for Alberta given its increasing reliance on oil and gas revenues to fund its budget. For all the talk about diversifying the economy and finding new sources of revenue, Alberta is actually more dependent on royalties and other non-renewable revenues than it has ever been before.

If Musk’s “Master Plan 3.0” comes to fruition and his company can successfully electrify homes and businesses in the same way it’s already electrified vehicles, global demand for oil and gas will peak far sooner than Alberta’s industry leaders expect — and decline far more quickly than they’re prepared to handle. That would leave Alberta staring at a multibillion-dollar hole in its budget that could only be filled with massive cuts or major new taxes.

That’s a future that few people in Alberta are ready to think about, much less prepare for. Ironically, one of them is Finance Minister Travis Toews, who’s widely expected to resign from office any day now. “We do have a volatile revenue structure in this province, and at some point, some day, Albertans are going to have to consider what we need to do to correct that,” he said in a recent speech. If Musk has his way, that day is going to come far sooner than Toews or anyone else in the United Conservative Party is prepared to handle.

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I am glad you admit that your narrative is just an opinion. It gives you the exquisite pleasure of dribbling your hate of Elon Musk in this ‘expansive free speech’ environment that your media allows you.
Haters like you should rejoice at the freedom of speech that Elon Musk is supporting, bc it is part of a sane democracy to achieve the truth or at least the least wrong information.

With freedom of speech you can do good or bad, Elon Musk has decided to spend his life fulfilling his mission of accelerating the transition to a sustainable future for humanity, and he puts his money in it, his skin is in his enterprises.

Here, listen to Elon Musk himself about Twitter. Hurry up before the medias distort his words:

Tesla is like the iPhone, Apple did not succeed by ‘taking a dead aim’ at the competitors, no, it simply produced a better product that everyone did not even know they needed it before 2007. Go and test-drive a Tesla, you will see what the future looks like.

In spite of your hate, I see that you understand Master Plan 3.0, just be patient, Tesla ‘specializes in delivering the impossible merely late’, but it is still way ahead of everyone else.

"...dribbling your hate of Elon Musk..."

Funny how different people interpret the same message; I thought the author was expressing quite opposite emotions towards Musk. If in a somewhat "oh, what's my favourite guy gone and done today?" kind of way. Fawcett holds much more antipathy to Danielle Smith, I think.

"Apple...simply produced a better product that everyone did not even know they needed".

Well, it's in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, whether or not smartphones were, in fact, "needed". Ubiquity doesn't necessarily equate to value to a positive trend in human evolution. Though I'm writing these remarks on my phone, I'm not convinced that life with smartphones is better than what I experienced prior.

Exactly what I thought Ken.
This commenter doesn't seem to have even bothered reading the article, choosing instead to rush to judgment because he worships Elon Musk.
It's just another example of the problem with worshipping anyone, mythical or otherwise; it paralyzes your ability to think critically because it's a one way street that has nothing to do with any context, including listening or taking in ANY new information whatsoever. It's a reflexive, juvenile need to dominate for the sake of it so mainly speaks to the societal problem of inherent male aggression.
But in the now trademark bizarro style of the right that has become a full-on proxy for that percolating male aggression, this "free speech" theme song enables them to bludgeon US for not listening to THEIR "points of view," to use the term loosely.
My prescription as a mother of boys is to start completely ignoring these ill-behaved, attention-seeking children.

When you are finished with your insults, maybe you can inspire us with your idea.

The Luddites did not know or care about doing things faster and certainly did not agree that it could be done better because those who were motivated for the right reasons thought that they would lose the expertise of the artisans.

That was a fair point and even today maybe, but what is it that we would so much miss if we stopped polluting the air, contaminate the water we drink or poisoning the land we need for food by this irresponsible fossil industry?

Master Plan 3 is designed not to kill any industry but to make sure humanity can survive as long as we can.

The oil & gas industry could concentrate on making durable products that we need and last a lifetime, where the pollution could be controlled with industrial methods, but we can certainly not continue to waste barrels of oil every second we burn it to heat or every km we drive with no control of the destruction of our biosphere, this is not sustainable and stupid.

This is what Master Plan 3 is about and let’s be smart in interpreting what Elon Musk is telling us, remember that he under-promises and over-delivers.

Sorry, Dude. Musk over-promises and under-delivers. Remember the self-driven vehicles? Yeah: the ones that caused accidents.
Meanwhile, what's the carbon cost of a Space-X flight??
And No, Sir: he did not "do all that" with "his own" money. He knows how to avoid paying taxes, which might be just as well, given all the government dollars -- that's taxpayer dollars -- his initiatives suck up.
Free speech isn't lying, mouthing off, giving a platform to hate speech.
And FWIW, I've been alive long enough to remember the days before plastic. Before TV. Before radio reception was reliable. Back in the days when parents spent time with kids, and people did things as an entire family. Even the occasional movie. Entertainment wasn't the be-all and end-all of everything.
If Elon developed a Master Plan for his big mouth, that'd be plenty of his mastering for me, thank you.
The oil & gas industry could start whatever it's going to do with itself, by cleaning up its messes and paying its own way.

@ f nordvie
You see, free speech or writing allows you to express your opinion, and it is good as long as you accept to hear the other side of the story.
The FSD is progressing very nicely and you should rejoice because it is already 9 times safer than human drivers, and no one died because of FSD and it can be proven by the data recorded of every km driven by each Tesla.
He did that by investing all his own money to the point of almost going bankrupt, only Ford and Tesla did not go bankrupt. Sorry you misunderstood my point.
Elon Musk is the person who paid the largest amount of taxes to any government last year, $13 billion and pouf!! It disappeared in god knows what, as soon as the check was sent. The US government will probably spend this money in subsidies to the fat cats in the oil industry.
Hate speech is decreasing since he is Twitter CEO see my link above.
I am also old enough to remember the time it was not manly to wear a seat belt, because it was hard to reach to get another beer bottle when driving (no can in those days). I am sure you will agree with me that we are due for Artificial Intelligence, we have seen enough natural stupidity.
If you want the safest car, get a Tesla. Someone tried to commit suicide last month, by driving a Tesla 250’ down a rocky cliff. The rescuers could not believe that everyone survived in the car.
Do yourself a favour and read the good news about Tesla and Elon Musk, you are missing important information that makes you want to get up in the morning to participate in a bright future.

Actually Ken, you are partially right, I was quick to judge his opinion. The author’s opinion on Master Plan 3 is bang on, but why does he have to bash Elon Musk by associating him with unproven allusions taken out of context.

You see I am biased against this author because of all the nonsense he wrote against Elon Musk in the past, which in my view, makes him a hater who likes to trigger more hate in the comments.

I know nothing of Danielle Smith except the titles I read once in a while which I find totally uninspiring and frankly disgusting, but it is only my opinion and I would not waste my time trying to second-guess what she is trying to do and comment on her.
But Elon Musk, I follow him since I stopped buying anything that runs on petrol since 2013 and when I read these fabricated consensus by authors against Elon Musk in media, I find it grotesque and ignorant.

You have to be very well prepared to fight Elon Musk with facts and data because he has them all to back up what he says, he is an engineer who succeeds in his enterprises because he is using the laws of physics, not the horoscope du jour.

You can hate Elon Musk all you want, but then why waste your time and peddle false information on him. I find it mostly strange coming from a media like N.O. that I normally find inspiring for the future of humanity.

Where is that hate coming from that makes N.O. want to spread it?

For some reason my reply to Ken landed on someone else below.

Free speech my eye. Elon Musk was quicker than Putin (a man he seems to admire) to violate the free speech principle by immediately censoring and removing comments on Twitter that were critical of Musk himself. His Majesty has no clothes.

As for Tesla, yes, it was lucky to be timed just right to fill a vacuum that Big Car was slow to address. Now the biggies, who have far more economic might than Tesla, are responding en masse, just when pandemic supply shortages are coming off their peak. Most independent economists peg Tesla's shares as grossly overvalued. Tesla shareholders are more exposed than they realize when the excess fat is inevitably dropped.

Remember that the original Tesla batteries were nothing more than off-the-shelf small units (made for hand-held devices) mainly manufactured by Panasonic wired together to make a big battery. Musk did not invent the lithium ion battery. Li-ion is too expensive for grid-scale applications and has dangerous dendrite issues. Every large bank of Tesla batteries installed at wind and solar farms by necessity also have expensive cooling and fire suppression systems.

Many observers are calling on industry to not use lithium at large scales not only because of the dendrite issue, but because there isn't enough lithium sources and processing capabilities on the planet. There are alternatives now leaving the research labs and entering commercialization that use common, cheaper and safer materials like iron, metallic calcium, magnesium, sodium and so forth. Some are commonly known as 'flow batteries.'

As for residential solar roofs, there are lots of videos and reports out there critical of Tesla Solar and the Tesla Powerwall. And there are also lots of alternatives that do not use cobalt. No sailboat owner who has practices due diligence would allow lithium ion batteries on their boats due to the dendrite-related fire risk. Lithium-iron-phosphate is the much safer option with an energy density slightly less but still widely acceptable than lithium ion (with cobalt). Sonnen (li-fe-po, made in Germany) offers direct competition to the Powerwall and is far safer.

Then there are the best competitors of all: human-scaled urbanism, building energy conservation and public transit. It's possible to design entire fossil fuel and Tesla-free communities.

Musk: “There is a clear path to a fully sustainable Earth — with abundance.”

If Musk's idea of sustainability includes hundreds of millions or billions of electric cars, he is just as deluded as AB Premier D. Smith.

Last August Musk called for more oil and gas in the near term, while "simultaneously moving as fast as we can to a sustainable energy economy". (Fossil fuel producers and boosters heard only the first half of Musk's statement, not the qualification that followed.)
"Elon Musk says the world needs more oil and gas as a bridge to renewables" (Bloomberg, Aug 29, 2022)

Major fossil fuel infrastructure takes decades to recoup its capital costs. You don't build big infrastructure projects only to run them for a decade. Making such huge investments locks us into a fossil-fuel future.
Musk fails to explain how to avoid fossil fuel lock in. How do we retire those production facilities? Fossil fuel companies are not going to invest billions in production only to see expensive infrastructure stranded a decade or two from now.

Fawcett: "If Musk’s 'Master Plan 3.0' comes to fruition and his company can successfully electrify homes and businesses in the same way it’s already electrified vehicles…"
…then only the rich will be able to afford solar panels, heat pumps, and cars — while modest-income households do without basic infrastructure and services; and billions of people, here and in developing nations, remain marginalized.

Both Elon Musk and Agent of Chaos D. Smith strike me as highly erratic. Terminal foot-in-mouth disease.
Take everything Musk says with a large grain of salt — and tune out D. Smith completely.

Bottom line, Musk has a poor understanding of politics and of the philosophies he claims to espouse. And he seems to be really bad at running social media tech companies.

But he also seems to be really quite good at running companies that make electric things. And that's very likely going to be good for the planet and bad for the oil patch.

This is SO not up to Alberta, or up to Canada. It's not even up to the United States, though they're a big enough actor to at least discuss.

There are tens of billions being committed to renewables in Australia and North Africa that require tens of billions to run the huge power lines to Southeast Asia and Europe/UK, respectively. They don't give a crap about Danielle Smith's plan, because they don't know her name.

Africans and Indians choosing two-wheeled electric bikes, and 3-wheel cargo electric scooters, don't care about the Tesla SUV that costs a hundred times as much. They'll probably never buy cars.

In the words of my favourite SF line:

"The avalanche has begun; it is too late for the pebbles to vote."

Ha ha!

Last time I checked the honking big and expensive, debt ridden Model S does not come with a licence to fly over all the freeway traffic. Sit in or look at any photo or video of traffic on a 10-lane urban freeway and you'll see Teslas stuck in the gridlock along with everyone else. The most obvious problem is the fuel cars burn. Thus, Tesla and Musk are seen as the alternative, the messiah, and worshipped accordingly, even though Musk did not invent batteries. But fill the freeway with EVs of all kinds and the real problem comes to the surface: car dependency.

In that light I don't see an illustrious future for Tesla once VW, Toyota and GM really take off with battery electrics. Once the gas stations are overtaken by charging stations I see consumers reacting more to the price of car ownership altogether alongside the characteristic that car loans and commuting is theft of valuable personal time and a family's financial resources.

We can do better. EVs are only a partial step that en masse will, to the delight of many here, diminish Alberta's immature, bullying hubris about oil. Moving beyond oil means that even greater attention must still be turned toward full climate adaptation concurrent with reducing emissions everywhere else as quickly as possible.

Walkable communities don't need Teslas, though commercial electric trucks and vans will require priority on the roads, perhaps with exclusive permits. The road network itself offers a valuable resource in the form of a huge urban land bank with pre-sunk costs. London UK, Paris, Copenhagen etc. etc. have been liberating road space for human beings for decades now. We can learn from that.

On the technical side of batteries, Argonne National Labs has made great strides in their research on batteries and there has been much progress. Participants in Argonne's hybrid international research model includes Canadian input from leading institutions like the U of Waterloo.

The video below is very informative. Apparently Argonne has found a way to vastly extend the range of lithium ion battery powered EVs, doubling or tripling it. They also participated in bringing Form Energy's batteries out of the MIT labs and into commercialization in less than 10 years from conceptualization, a record R&D timeline. Form Energy's batteries are meant for grid-scale storage and are ideal for large solar and wind farms. They are benign and can be placed in shipping containers stacked three-high in huge warehouses in a city, or on open land in the energy farms.


Three things make Form stand out. Their batteries run on common everyday iron, oxygen and water ... i.e. rust! No lithium, no cobalt. They are stable and safe, no issues with dendrites and explosive fires that require expensive cooling and fire suppression systems. In addition, the iron-air batteries can hold, charge and discharge electricity over 100 hours (four days), whereas li-ion stores and discharges over just four hours.

Days-long storage is a great asset to have at very large scales, but a 4-hour charge can assist in flattening sudden hour by hour fluctuations in demand on a typical grid. A well-balanced renewable power grid will probably have both hourly and longer term storage capacity. The 4-hour li-ion battery has newly commercialized non-lithium and cheaper alternatives with tech patented by companies like Ambri which runs on molten metals like antimony, metallic calcium, magnesium and others. Ambri was also developed at MIT by an ex-pat Canadian prof specializing in electro-metallurgy. Dr. Donald Sadoway went on to develop low emission steel using electrolysis instead of coal. Check out Boston Metal, a company that spun off from green steel research by MIT.

As mentioned previously, the grid storage tech now appearing on the land is destined to ultimately reject Tesla's li-ion batteries on cost, safety and the availability of minerals. How can lithium possibly compete with iron, water and air? Tesla will also be faced with more competition piling on from its larger competitors in the EV field.

It's not surprising that Elon is a fan of science fiction, including stupid fantasies about terraforming Mars. Still, his Space X and Star Link have no competitors from car makers, but could be subject to rules about space junk before too long.