EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FILM DIRECTOR CHRIS PAINE
Nitish Kannan, is an entrepreneur who innovates in technology. He has great experience in testing Tesla cars and has interviewed leaders in this field including film director Chris Paine, director of Revenge of the Electric car. You can follow Nitish on Twitter here:
Most recently, the Director of the two famous documentaries “Who Killed The Electric Car,” and “Revenge of the Electric Car” invited me over to his house to discuss many issues of the day. Director Chris Paine who’s familiar with the exponential technologies often discussed at Singularity University and the future of transportation and energy, gave me an exclusive look on his inside knowledge of what’s coming in the world of the future of the automobile, energy and, what companies are doing to push us forward in making the world get off oil and gas and finally what he’s been up to in recent years that inspires him.
First of Film Director Chris Paine lives in an amazing house in the hills of Culver City. Chris in person is an extremely thoughtful, caring and generous person. He offered me a drink and when I first met him he was most proud of the fact that his modern luxury retreat is used to host many parties and leased out when he travels is mostly powered by solarcity solar panels to get a huge portion of its energy. Director Chris Paine tells me there is no excuse for which why anyone can’t go solar today especially with solar leasing or Solar PPA. What solar PPA basically means is that anyone can buy solar power at well below grid prices and never have to pay for installation, maintenance or take care of the solar panels for 20 years and have locked in rates for power well below grid prices. Solar power offers an opportunity he tells me to have negative pricing for power producing peak power exactly when the peak power demand is highest on a hot summer day.
According to Chris we are at the very early stages of the solar power and electric car revolution. Very soon, the whole world will become a purely electric car society and all our energy needs will be met for free forever by the sun. As we sit down in Chris Paine’s living room, Chris gave me a first hand account of his life story, what inspires him these days, and finally what projects he’s working on these days amid his hectic travel schedule.
Chris maintains one of his most notable life events was his recent sabbatical to Southeast Asia, China and India for almost a year. He mentions to me “he took the trip you’d take in your teens or twenties except a few decades later in his life. Chris discussed how China in the last twenty years has gone from bicycles to luxury cars everywhere and toxic and polluted cities. He said the same is happening in countries like India just not as fast as China but still the same toxic pollution and environmental problems exist.
We had a great conversation about what the solution to reducing poverty, and disrupting transport and energy was including a new project he said he was working on about bicycles vs cars in cities and how we need more alternative forms of transport to disrupt the industry. He said it’s very sad and it deeply upsets him that cities aren’t planned with bicycles or alternative transport in mind and that oil and coal companies have effectively subverted democracy. Most notable to Chris was when Chevron which years ago guilty of deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon, later sued anyone who speaks out against it. It said it deeply disgusts him.
I suggested the idea that today we are seeing a convergence of solar power, electric cars like the Tesla Model S and X and self driving cars by google and instant on demand transportation by companies like Uber or Lyft. I said I think there’s a reason why Google invested in 3 out of the four companies because I think Google has a vision to make a self driving, free supercharging solar powered car that comes on demand as a viable solution to our problems. He said that’s exactly what is a great solution to the issues of the day.
What really upsets him however is that even though these technologies are becoming ubiquitous today, electric cars are only 1% of the total cars and already facing big opposition from oil giants and industries and governments. He was pissed that these larger oil companies frequently subvert democracy in South America or Africa, not to mention companies like Massey coal burying 2500 miles of streams in Appalachia and blowing up tons of mountains of forests in America for coal and paying no heed to our environment or remediating the Earth.
He said the real solution is for more alternative forms of transport to be allowed and ubiquitous globally. Whether that’s electric cars, more green buses like the BYD electric buses that can replace all our existing city buses today on an electric bus with batteries that are guaranteed to last 10 years saving millions of dollars of fossil fuel costs and maintenance. It’s astonishing as me and Chris discussed that companies like BYD of china make an electric bus that can replace city buses and do 200 miles or so a day on electric power alone. I imagine cities would save millions in fossil fuel and maintenance costs if all cities switched to electric buses. Moreover, electric buses have almost no maintenance or service requirements unlike CNG or Diesel buses. According to Chris the revolution is happening not just locally in the USA but globally as BYD just opened a factory to make its
electric buses in Lancaster California. Pretty soon all our buses will be electric he thinks because who wouldn’t want a bus that can charge for free forever.
Chris mentioned that it was great for 60 minutes and the mainstream media to start to acknowledge the popularity of the electric car with brands like Tesla and that as someone who knows Elon Musk and documented him through the worst times of his life he said it’s fantastic for Tesla to have started to getting mainstream recognition for disrupting the entire electric car business as well as with its gigafactory and supercharger network.
Chris Paine and I discussed our theory of how this will play out and I said that solar power is growing exponentially and that most likely it will replace most of our power needs. Early adopters like Chris Paine who has a solar powered large home and three electric cars showed me that you can have an A list celebrity lifestyle in Southern California and still be super green and save tons of money. I mean Chris said today you can lease a Nissan Leaf or Chevy volt between 250-350 bucks a month count the price of gasoline each month and it’s effectively free to own compared to an internal combustion car.
In fact here is my video tour of his garage including a Tesla Roadster, a Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, all charged by Solarcity Solar panels.