He's been called the modern-day Iron Man.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) is the Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs – all rolled into one. He's responsible for launching the age of the electric car. He's responsible for completely changing the dynamic of space travel with SpaceX and his “reusable” rocket. He's even responsible for turning a young solar installation and finance company called SolarCity into a major player.
Of course, Musk's connection to SolarCity is actually a family one, as SolarCity's CEO, Lyndon Rive is Elon Musk's cousin. Talk about hitting the family jackpot!
Now not only is Elon Musk the Chairman of SolarCity, but he also owns 22.2 percent of outstanding shares. He's the largest shareholder of the company. Some have even suggested that he may end up buying the company and taking it private.
I don't know if that'll happen or not, but certainly such a thing could be seen as a saving grace for a stock that's seen better days. I can imagine management would be happy to be able to conduct business without having to answer to shareholders. The company is always looking for new ways to handle its heavy debt load. Bypassing the ire of retail investors would make it easier.
In any event, Elon Musk's stake in the company suggests that he believes there's a reason to be bullish on the stock.
Solar Goes Giga!
In an effort to slash the cost of electric cars, Elon Musk is in the process of building a lithium-ion battery factory that will allow him to use economies of scale to his advantage. It's called the Gigafactory.
With this massive facility in full operation, the factory should reduce the production cost for Tesla's electric car batteries by 30 percent. This is a very big deal. But here's the interesting part…
The facility, which will be the second largest building by usable space when it's completed, will be powered by wind energy and, you guessed it, solar. In fact, Tesla reps claim that most of the building will be powered by solar panels covering the entire roof of this 13.6 million square foot building.
Not only is Musk investing in the future of solar by staking his claim to one of the biggest solar installers on the planet, but he's ensuring that his gigafactory is powered by the sun. This is not only an exercise in sustainability, but being that the building is located in the Nevada desert, it's an exercise in practicality.
The Solar Trifecta
When the gigafactory becomes fully operational, it will pump out more lithium-ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013. But not all of those batteries will be used for its cars.
Another part of the Tesla product line is the Powerwall.
The Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels.
With the Powerwall in place, this offers a very interesting and potentially lucrative solar trifecta for Musk.
Using SolarCity panels to produce electricity, have it stored in a Tesla Powerwall, then use that electricity to “fuel up” a Tesla electric vehicle.
All three of these elements have one thing in common – solar
Elon Musk is not a stupid man, and he knows that things like solar, energy storage and electric cars are the future. So why not stake your claim today – before all this stuff just becomes commonplace? That's what Musk is doing, and that's what smart investors are doing, too.
Solar, electric cars, battery storage: This isn't a bunch of treehugger pipe dreams. This is reality. It's happening right now, and Elon Musk is leading the way – with a little help from the sun.