The purported cost of the Iraqi War so far has been $1.7 trillion (1.7 x
10^12).Whether this is war was worth it is **not** up for discussion
here. This is strictly an exercise in examining what effect those funds
would have had if applied differently. I would appreciate your vetting
the thoughts and numbers below.
The question is: "What if those funds had been used for installing solar
panels for recharging a fleet of electric vehicles?" What does a “back
of the envelope” set of calculations indicate as to whether such an
investment would be viable and possibly pursued further?
Assume for discussion purposes:
1)Each panel is rated at 250 watts. (Ref:
http://www.suncityenergy.com/solarpanelratings/) This is in a common
size (+/- a few watts).The rating assumes a standard irradiance of 1,000
2)Each panel costs $1250 installed which is $5/watt for a commercially
installed panel. Some will self install and some will have a higher
commercially installed array.
3)Each panel receives an average of 2 kwhr/m^2/day.This is doable in
almost all parts of the lower 48 States and Hawaii in December, the
worse month for solar over all.The Puget Sound - Portland (OR) and
Alaska areas are the two exceptions.Most areas referenced below are well
above 2 kwhr/m^2/day; some with a factor of 3 or greater.
4)How far will an electric vehicle go using 1 kwhr of electricity.?
·Pickups can travel roughly 2 to 3 miles.
·Sedans can travel roughly 3 to 5 miles.
·A Tesla Model S with an EPA rated range of 265 miles with a 85 kwhr
pack onboard produces a calculated average about 3 miles per kwhr.
·A range of 3 miles per kwhr was used below as an average
To derive the amount of mileage that can be driven in a day
electrically, the above panels and factors were multiplied together like so:
_$1.7 x 10^12 _* _250w panel_ * _1 kw _* 1 hr * _2 kwhr sol m^2/day_ *
$1250 panel10^3w 1 kwhr std m^2/daykwhr
This produces a result of 2.04 billion miles.
How does this equate to miles driven per day using an equivalent
gasoline powered sedan?
Assume for discussion purposes:
1)The USA uses 20 million Barrels of Oil Per Day (BOPD).In recent years,
this figure has decreased to about 18 million BOPD.
2)Each barrel of oil can be refined to produce 18 gallons of
gasoline.This is close to the actual production figure.
To derive the amount of average car miles that can be driven in a day
using gasoline, the above factors were multiplied together like so:
20 million BOPD * 18 gallons of gasoline/BOPD * 20 Miles/Gallon = 7.2
We drive roughly 7.200 billion miles per day.
21 million BOPD over 7.2 billion miles driven per day produces a rough
factor of 3 (x10^-3).If we multiply 2.04 billion electric only miles
driven times this factor, we would equate this to using about 6 million
BOPD.This is roughly the amount of our oil imports.
While a $1.7 trillion dollar investment in solar panels will not be a
substitute for all the oil we use, it would likely reduce our energy
consumption by 6 million BOPD; enough for us to be ‘energy independent’
with maybe a little conservation added.
How long would it take to pay this investment off?
If electricity, through net metering, is $1.00 per 10 kwhr and gasoline
is $4 per gallon, and a vehicle can be driven the same amount of miles
on either 10 kwhr of electricity or 1 gallon of gasoline, the difference
is $3.00 which would be allocated to paying off the $1.7 trillion dollar
We use 360 million gallons of gasoline a day, (20 million BOPD * 18
gallons/Barrel).$1.7 x 10^12/(0.360 gallons x 10^9 * 3) = 1.574 x 10^3
days or 4.31 years.Not too shabby.
This is a very simplistic scenario where a lot of details and other
costs that have to be worked out such as the cost of a pack; electrical
storage, production, and transmission issues; (in)efficiency issues;
weather related issues (the sun does not always shine); and utility
regulatory/business issues.The bottom line is that this looks like it is
doable financially with potentially solvable issues.
For EV drag racing discussion, please use NEDRA