What Is Tesla’s Contribution Toward Sustainability? Let’s Calculate

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During Tesla’s Battery Day event, Elon Musk noted that wind and solar make up the majority of new electricity generation capacity in the USA this year. As reported in a recent CleanTechnica power capacity report, renewable energy accounted for 57% of new US power capacity in the first half of 2020.

Elon highlighted that the grid is quickly getting more sustainable and that during the past 10 years power production from coal has dropped in half. A CleanTechnica report published this weekend has much more information on that based on the latest official data, published on Friday, and going further back in time. Electricity from coal dropped from 50% of US electricity in 2005 to 45% in 2010 to 33% in 2015 to 17.7% so far this year.

“So good things are happening,” Elon said, “on a lot of levels. We just need to go faster.” Tesla has played a huge role in pushing our acceleration towards sustainability — not just with vehicles, but also in the energy field. Tesla’s advanced batteries will push us even faster toward the goal of sustainability.

With all of this in mind, I wanted to explore Tesla’s contribution toward that 75% of new electricity capacity generated this year. Elon actually detailed some of the numbers for us during Battery Day. Let’s recap:

  • 1 million EVs delivered.
  • 26 billion electric miles driven.
  • Many gigawatts-hours of stationary batteries installed.
  • 17 terawatt-hours of solar electricity have been generated.

1 Million EVs Delivered

The EPA states that a typical passenger vehicle emits around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Multiply that by a million and Tesla alone would have saved 4.6 million metric tons of carbon from being put out into the atmosphere globally. However, that doesn’t take into account emissions from producing the cars, and producing an electric car does create a bit more emissions. Tesla’s own website shows that it has prevented a total of 3,623,138.53 tons of carbon from being emitted into our atmosphere.

26 Billion Electric Miles Driven

The average number of miles driven by Americans is around 12,476 miles per year per driver based on official US data collected several years ago — a bit more than 1,000 miles a month. As of 2016, there were around 222 million people driving in America. Women account for 51% of licensed drivers in the U.S. When you multiply that 222 million by 12,476 miles annually, you have quite a bit of annual mileage creating an enormous amount of CO2 emissions and other pollution.

Value Penguin notes that almost 90% of US households spend around $3,000 annually on gas, which averages to $250 a month. As of 2006, the New York Times has a list of gas cost per mile for a wide range of vehicles. The Dodge Ram 1500 costs about $0.27 per mile to fuel, the highest on the list. The lowest is the Honda Insight at $0.06 per mile.

These numbers may have changed since that NYT calculator was published, but for now let’s crunch some more numbers: the average miles driven at 1,000 multiplied by the average amount spent per month at $250 means that the $/mile is $0.25/mile: $250 divided by 1,000 miles = $0.25 per mile.

Then we multiply $0.25 by 26 billion electric miles. This is how much money was not spent on gasoline due to electric Tesla vehicles on the road. That number is $6,500,000,000.

In essence, that is $6.5 billion not spent on gasoline because of Tesla electric vehicles — and that number will continue to grow as more people globally make the switch.

Keep in mind that even though I used American statistics for American drivers, Tesla’s 26 billion electric miles driven are global — so many of those miles were not driven here and a more sophisticated analysis would be needed to get more accurate numbers.

Many Gigawatts-Hours Of Stationary Batteries

Although we don’t have a specific number for this one, it is surely a notable part of the transition to renewable energy.

17 Terawatt-Hours Of Solar Electricity Have Been Generated

Back in July, Energy Sage published an article posting the question, “How much do solar panels save?” This actually depends on many factors, such as how much sun your area gets daily, the size and angle of your roof, how much electricity you typically use, local electricity rates. The article noted, though, that annual electricity use for a US household is 10,972 kWh, or 11 MWh. When you convert 17 TWh into MWh, that’s 17,000,000 MW. When you divide 17 TWh by 11 MWh, you get 1,545,454. That means that, based on the US average, Tesla solar power systems have generated enough electricity for 1.545 million homes for one year.

We have no real idea how much money those solar PV systems will save people, but we do know that Tesla now offers record low prices for rooftop solar power systems and many Americans are joining the Tesla solar family every day.

Tesla’s Contribution

One thing Elon Musk noted in that corporate breakdown was just how hard Tesla, a company that paid zero dollars in advertising costs, has pushed clean energy. Tesla is one of the most vocal advocates for sustainability, and I believe that it is one big key reason why clean technology is on the rise. This, along with good state, local, and federal incentives as well as other international incentives and the global agreement made in Paris, are three important driving forces that are encouraging people and businesses to switch to cleaner energy solutions.

Tesla’s empowering voice is backed by its many cost-competitive products that are changing major energy markets. I believe that history will agree with Tesla and Elon Musk and look favorably upon them both.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider