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: This is in a common size (+/- a few watts).The rating assumes a standard irradiance of 1,000 whr /m^2.

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_ * _3 mi_

$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 billion miles/day

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 investment.

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 

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