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All Cars Electric

How To Produce The Needed Energy?

May 13, 2017, Tapio Mäkelä

There is surprisingly little information and debate on how to electrify our roads. If all cars become electric, how much electricity will be needed, how is it produced and distributed?

A student at Stanford University, William Greenbaum has calculated that if all cars on US roads were to become Tesla Model S, the rise of total energy demand in the country would be 18,6% compared with the current consumption of oil based fuels. For electric cars to be a sustainable alternative, electricity they consume should be clean energy. 

If the energy consumed by all cars being electric was to be produced using solar energy, Greenbaum’s math formula suggests that it requires 9147 km2 of solar panels, which would cover nearly all of states of Delaware or Rhode Island. The study does not take into consideration winter conditions and distance of energy sources to sites of consumption. On Quora, “an engineer from an oil company” arrives at 29% energy consumption increase.

By looking at on-line information about electric cars and their emission impact, it seems obvious that different sides of energy industry lobby the topic and promote their own views. No one can argue against it, however that electric cars are as clean as the power used to generate their energy. In California, the most electrified transport state in the US, according to The Guardian, “60% of electricity came from burning fossil fuels in 2015, while solar and wind together made up less than 14%.”

Deploying electric cars as the main means of road transportation should be based on a comprehensive calculation of the ecological and economical impact that follows, the infrastructures that are needed and old technologies that need to be removed and recycled. This said, electric cars do not distribute emissions in their environment nor produce small particles that all fossil fuel based alternatives do. So from a human health perspective, electric cars are already a major step forward towards cleaner transportation.

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