Elon Musk and the National Security Implications of Home Batteries

Elon Musk may save our bacon…and help us fry it, too.

If there’s one danger that keeps security specialists up at night, it’s the vulnerability of our national power grid. Not only is it susceptible to physical sabotage, it’s also constantly under attack from foreign hackers. If that isn’t enough, imagine the damage from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that took our national electrical grid offline. 

“What it could do, these various threats, is black out the U.S. electric grid for a protracted period of months or years,” warned Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force, a bipartisan congressional commission. “Nine out of ten Americans could die from starvation, disease and societal collapse, if the blackout lasted a year.” 

Enter Elon Musk 

Recently, Musk announced his new product line:  batteries to power homes and businesses.  Homes and businesses with solar panels will be able to store the excess energy they produce. That energy, stored in a Tesla battery called Powerwall, will be available during non-daylight hours or in event of a power outage.

According to Musk, “Our goal is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy.” 

With individuals and businesses having control over the majority of their own energy production, utility companies could be relegated to administrators of a very distributed power grid–as opposed to a centralized power producer. 

What does that mean for national security?  

Ironically, the easiest way to demonstrate the benefit of a distributed power grid is to compare it to a terrorist organization. Terrorists divide their networks up into individual cells, compartmentalizing information within each cell. In doing so, they minimize the risk to the organization as a whole because if one cell is compromised, it cannot bring down the whole network.

Likewise, a distributed network of home power producers minimizes the damage that can be done to the nation as a whole.  If one home or business is taken offline, it will not bring down the entire nation’s power network. 

So, Elon Musk could very well save our bacon and help us fry it as well.

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