Elon Musk thanks Norway at the ONS

Tesla founder and multi-billionaire visits Stavanger

Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and the wealthiest person in the world, participated in this year’s Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) conference in Stavanger.

Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

Tesla CEO and the world’s wealthiest person, Elon Musk, didn’t break out in song, but he did start his keynote address at the Offshore Northern Sea (ONS) 2022 energy conference in Stavanger on Aug. 29, with “Jeg elsker dette landet.”

“I love Norway,” he said in English.

Why wouldn’t he? The country has the highest number or electric cars per capita. The line drew applause from the conference participants.

“I would like to thank the leaders of Norway for their long-standing support of electric cars and renewable energy,” said Musk, 51, who is valued at over $254 billion. “You’ve really made a difference, so thank you so much.”

The conference is held every two years and brings together politicians and leaders in the energy industry “to discuss changes and future prospects in the energy industry.”

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) lunched with Musk and learned much.

“He’s an energy pioneer, after all,” Støre told NTB. “The fact that he is the world’s wealthiest man must be in the newspaper, but he is first and foremost a technologist, who has chosen new solutions in the car industry. He’s taking this whole renewable batch on to new industries. It’s important for Norway to pay attention.”

However, Musk emphasized that there is still a need for oil and gas.

“I think we need oil and gas in the short term, otherwise the vilification will crumble,” he said. “For society to quickly function, we need oil and gas, especially in these times of Russian sanctions. I think everyone agrees with that. At the same time, you have to speed up the process of erasing sustainable energy.”

Nevertheless, the future is bright for electric cars.

“I think we’re going to see a huge change there in the next 10 to 15 years,” said Musk, in a conversation with moderator Xenia Wickett. “By 2030, perhaps half of all new cars will be electric. By 2035, it will be maybe 80%. If you look at the streets here in Norway, you already see a version of this. Most of the new cars here are electric cars. It’s fantastic, so again – thank you very much. It’s pretty cool.”

That elicited laughter from the audience.

Musk is also dabbling with other technologies that could have historic implications. At the same time, he cautions about the way these technologies could be used. One is artificial intelligence, another is the increased use of drones, which has a link to artificial intelligence.

“We should make sure that it doesn’t get out of control, but rather that it helps make the future better for humanity,” he said. “I think we should be more concerned about artificial intelligence than we are now. The wars of the future will largely be drone wars, something we’re getting a taste of now in Ukraine. If your drones are better than their drones, you win,” he said.

Another is space technology, enabling ordinary people to tour the final frontier. Musk’s Space X has been working on the Starship project for many years with several successful test launches. The destination for space travelers is Mars.

“The two technologies we will be working on by the end of the year are getting Starship into orbit around the earth, which is important in the work to expand human consciousness in space,” he said. “Then we’re working on getting Tesla cars to be self-driving. The goal is to get self-driving cars out into the U.S. market, and hopefully in Europe.”

Musk is criticized for making a rapid process of the phase from idea to development of new, groundbreaking technology. Støre asked Musk what he thinks is the biggest challenge in speeding up such processes.

“His answer to this is that we need to speed up the processing of applications for the construction of renewable energy structures,” said Støre. “I agree with that. In my months as prime minister, I have seen that the entire system for processing applications and licenses is adapted to a different time than what we have now, where so much is to be processed.”

Musk noted one holdup can be permissions to build.

“It can often take less time to build a factory than it takes to get permission to build it,” he said.

“So, there are some lessons to be learned here to achieve this cooperation between the private and the public sector. We want private investment, that’s where the money mainly has to come from.”

Støre and Musk also discussed renewable energy and noted Norway is among the few energy-producing countries in the world with a democracy.

Musk is a native of Pretoria, South Africa, who has become a successful business owner and entrepreneur. He successfully bid to buy Twitter for $44 billion. He backed out of the deal, claiming Twitter had not been transparent about the number of bogus Twitter accounts. Twitter sued Musk for reneging on the deal and Musk has countersued.

This article originally appeared in the October 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Michael Kleiner

Michael Kleiner, business and sports editor, has more than three decades of experience as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. He has operated his own PR and web design business for small businesses, authors and community organizations in Philadelphia since 1999. Not of Norwegian descent, he lived in Norway for a year with his family at age 11 and has returned as an adult. He is the author of a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, and a member of NorCham Philadelphia. Visit Kleinerprweb.com; beyondthecold.com.