At the Bitcoin conference B Word, Elon Musk admitted that Tesla caused about two-thirds of his “personal and professional pain” despite his confidence that the company could help solve issues in the energy sector, including Bitcoin’s long-standing image problem as an energy hog.
He had previously decided to suspend Tesla’s acceptance of Bitcoin payments for electric vehicles due to concerns about its energy usage, even though many major owners of Bitcoin mining operations seek out inexpensive renewable energy sources like Norway’s hydropower operations. In response to Musk’s previously expressed concerns, major North American Bitcoin mining firms formed the Bitcoin Mining Council and pledged to support greater transparency in energy usage. At B Word, Musk endorsed existing sustainable energy options for Bitcoin mining like hydropower, solar, and nuclear power and said that Tesla Energy could help with the transition:
“My expectation is not like that the energy production must be pure as the driven snow, but it also cannot be using the world’s dirtiest coal which it was for a moment there. So. You know, that’s just difficult for Tesla to support in that situation. I do think long-term renewable energy will actually be the cheapest form of energy, it just doesn’t happen overnight.”
Problems swirling around Tesla, some of which were not purely the company’s fault, have certainly given its CEO plenty of cause for headaches lately. According to Musk, his current concerns with Tesla include the fact that it isn’t yet manufacturing the new, custom-designed 4680 battery cells for commercial use in vehicles and energy storage systems like the Powerwall and Powerpack yet. According to comments made on Twitter after his appearance at B Word, the problems are largely a matter of engineering, though he seems confident that lithium-ion batteries are already at an adequate technology level to support a large-scale transition to sustainable energy production.
The solar power and energy storage system side of Tesla’s business, officially called Solar Energy, is currently facing challenges that include lawsuits from customers who are upset about price hikes for their Solar Roofs and investors who allege that Tesla’s acquisition of Solar City was purely a bailout of Elon Musk’s cousins. Musk, of course, denies the latter and recently took the stand in defense of the acquisition while in court.
Although one of Tesla’s biggest markets, China has put pressure on the company with its ban on Tesla vehicles parking at government facilities, poor publicity from bloggers who now say that Tesla has threatened defamation lawsuits over their negative posts, and occasional recalls to fix problems with the autopilot and loose screws in the suspension unit.
On the plus side, Tesla has been posting a string of record-setting quarters for delivery of vehicles lately. It delivered 184,800 vehicles in Q1 2021 and 201,250 vehicles in Q2 2021. This comes after the company fell just short of its goal of delivering 500,000 vehicles in 2020. Once Tesla completes construction of Gigafactory Austin, where it plans to manufacture its larger vehicles, it can add to that figure with the delivery of pre-ordered Cybertrucks and Tesla Semis.
(And, yes, Elon Musk did admit to owning Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin at the B Word Conference.)