Electric vehicle pioneer and energy group Tesla says its fleet of more than 550,000 EVs has already delivered savings of more than 4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases and their equivalent, and the output of its solar products is also twice that of energy consumed by all those electric cars.
In the company's first “impact report” released overnight, Tesla says more than 10 billion miles (16 billion kilometres) have been driven by its fleet, while supercharging network has produced more than 595 gigawatt- hours (GWhs) of energy, saving the equivalent of over 75 million gallons of gasoline.
Tesla Energy has installed over 3.5GW of solar installations, which have cumulatively generated more than 13 terawatt- hours (TWhs) of 100% clean, emissions-free electricity, more than twice the 5.26TWhy consumed by all the Models 3, X and S.
Over their expected 35-year life of the solar installations, the solar will likely generate 86.5TWh of energy. That's about enough to power most of Australia's main grid for six months.
“We believe the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emissions future, the better,” the company says in its statement.
“Tesla's products offer a complete solution – sustainable generation, storage and usage – all capable of being powered by the sun. We envision a world powered by solar energy, running on batteries and transported by all-electric cars.
“This issue (rising emissions) is Tesla's entire reason for existing. We are focused on creating a complete power and transportation ecosystem from solar generation and energy storage to all-electric vehicles.”
Tesla also pointed to the benefits of its battery storage - both small and large scale - pointing to the use of Powerpacks in helping patch up Puerto Rico's grid after it was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, the displacement of peaking gas generators in the US, and the success of the Tesla big battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia.
“This grid scale energy storage project is an example of a zero-emissions solution that is helping to reduce power outages and improving the reliability of South Australia's electrical infrastructure,” Tesla says.
The company is not, however, emissions free. It says total emissions - direct and indirect - from its charging network, manufacturing and energy use total 282,000 tonnes of Co2=. It says it will set up specific targets to drive down its greenhouse gas footprint on a per- product basis.
It is, however, adding solar and battery storage to its own manufacturing facilities, although the solar array at Gigafactory 1 - promising to be the world's largest rooftop solar installation - is still under construction. Tesla says it will include more than 200,000 solar panels.
One of the more controversial aspects of battery storage units is the sourcing of materials, particularly cobalt - mostly mined in the Congo in Africa, usually in appalling and exploitative conditions.
Tesla says it is using little cobalt, and tends to eliminate it entirely. In the meantime, it is seeking to re-use cobalt and has talked to suppliers and processors to eliminate child labor, illegal mining and other risks.
It also says that the fact that lithium-ion batteries are recyclable is a plus.
“When petroleum is pumped out of the ground, chemically refined and then burned, it releases harmful emissions into the atmosphere that are not recovered for reuse. Battery materials, in contrast, are refined and put into a cell, and will still remain at the end of their life, when they can be recycled to recover its valuable materials for reuse over and over again.”
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy
, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid
and founder/editor of The Driven
. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.