Current Energy and Hyperloop's Solution

We depend on coal, oil and natural gas for the majority of our energy needs [1], despite doomsayers declaring we will run out of fossil fuels in fifty years. The Bay Area's BART currently sources most of its energy from hydro and solar energy, with future plans to incorporate additional solar energy farms. As we continue the shift to an era of renewable energy, we should consider the Hyperloop as the next logical step. The Hyperloop relies entirely on self-generated solar power. The Hyperloop will produce more energy than it can consume, while fulfilling the basic need of high speed transportation to hundreds of thousands of individuals.

The Hyperloop breaks the paradigm of externally sourced energy by running solar panels along its track length, generating more than enough energy to power itself – remaining power will be routed back to the grid. Annually, a Hyperloop spanning from Los Angeles to San Francisco is expected to consume only 21 out of the 57 megawatts it will produce, after accounting for cloudy skies and rainy days. Upon completion, the Hyperloop will pay back for itself by generating 36 megawatts, or $37.8 million in electricity per year, making it an exceptionally eco-friendly means of transport. The sheer amount of extra electricity generated will power 17,000 California homes for an entire year [2].

Solar panels will generate enough power for itself - and $37.8 million in excess. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Solar panels will generate enough power for itself - and $37.8 million in excess.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Current blueprints plan to run two solar panels along the tube’s length. However, the solar panel grid can be easily extended to cover 50% more area while the cost to maintain additional solar panels would be minimal. The result would be a 70% increase in the power donated back to the grid.

Elon Musk’s white paper sketches a potential route from Los Angeles to San Francisco by building over current freeways, notably the I-5 and I-580 [3]. These heavy traffic roads generate large quantities of unharnessed wind power. Building the Hyperloop over such traffic begs the question – why not install turbines under the Hyperloop to capture even more energy? While no real-world analysis has quantified the potential in wind energy, we should make use of our current infrastructure to create the most efficient Hyperloop.