Are Teslas Front Loading Emmisions?

Are Teslas Front Loading Emmisions?

I am reading articles that accuse battery powered cars of front loading emissions in their manufacture. Somehow that sounds wrong. Any experts that can clarify how this argument is just in error?

MB3 | 24 ottobre 2012

Yikes, I remembered my calculations wrong and made a mistake above. It was not 2c and 4c as stated above, it was actually 4c and 8c. My fault there, but the conclusions are the same. I included all costs installation + materials + lifecycle. I treated incentives as if I had not received them for the high number. In other words, even after those go away it is much cheaper for me to go solar than the local electric company. You can do your own calculations for your area, but that's how it is here.

I don't think I left out any solar subsidies, but I did leave out subsidies for other industries that directly and indirectly support my local electric company. I left those out because it makes my estimate more conservative and strengthens my case. I included CA and Fed rebates and tax incentives. In total they represent under 50% of the cost if I could take advantage of them all.

If you know of any costs I left out let me know. But honestly, why should I care why<\i> it's a good deal? I rarely go to the store and see a sale item and think, well yeah it's cheap, but someone is paying for it, so I shouldn't buy it.

MB3 | 24 ottobre 2012

sorry I meant

MB3 | 24 ottobre 2012

... to close by italics tag

kalikgod | 25 ottobre 2012


Do you mind sharing the numbers with us? I am curious what time frame you used to average the costs over and if you included any provisions for maintenance costs.

@ Brian H

Thanks for the grammar correction.

As far as the issues of rooftop solar integrating with the grid, I think we would need about two orders of magnitude (from 0.1% up to 10%) more connected capacity to have those kinds of effects. Wind energy usually runs into issues at about 20% penetration currently, but can be de-rated/curtailed to accommodate.

Brian H | 25 ottobre 2012

Rooftop solar is (very expensive) small potatoes. System solar is big installations, like this.

MB3 | 25 ottobre 2012

Kalikgod. yes, but it will have to be this weekend.
Brian. Maybe rooftop is very expensive, but right now it is still cheaper than purchasing from an electric company. I love the picture. The green panels popping through the "glass" ones are actually very efficient.

Docrob | 25 ottobre 2012

Brian not nearly as small potatoes as you think. Rooftop solar represents 2/3 of total solar capacity in the US. Similarly whilst it is true that per watt PV for rooftop solar is more expensive by about 30-40%, the difference is largely abolished by the fact that utility solar has the additional cost of either leasing or purchasing the land where rooftop solar the space for it is already purchased or leased and does not represent a addict all overhead. Any remaining difference is usually reversed in avor of rooftop solar because rooftop solar offsets retail power prices whereas utility scale solar is competing against wholesale power prices.

reitmanr | 25 ottobre 2012

Brian H

I am not sure what you consider very expensive for roof top solar. Some 7 or 8 years ago we installed a 5kW roof top system for about $20K after rebates. Our annual electric bill totaled $16 last year plus about $5 per month for service. We used to pay over $200 per month average for our power. Granted, we are in sunny CA and have good solar exposure. We are just adding another 1kW for about $3K with higher efficiency panels and microinverters and monitoring. I am estimating that this added capability will cover the added load of my Model S. Again, I acknowledge that I only drive about 50 miles a day average, and plan on using the SC stations available here for my more extended driving.

Brian- hopefully this helps, as I respect your numerous posts. You always provide good food for thought. Thanks

Brian H | 26 ottobre 2012

The cost is to the system, not the householder. Replacing any significant % of demand with small solar is a system nightmare. Also, the cost of any individual installation must be computed net of ALL subsidies, installation or FIT.

Installation costing over $1/kW is right on the verge of breakeven. Any more is pure "convenience cost".

Docrob | 26 ottobre 2012

Small scale distributed solar is less difficult and costly to integrate into the grid because fluctuations in output are smoothed by geographical distribution, as clouds pass over some areas they clear from others. A large utility scale plant will see its entire output fluctuate in unison over time.
Please show us some evidence or basis for you installed cost of $1/watt being necessary to break even.

Brian H | 26 ottobre 2012

Just comparing to best cost of alternatives, which for the system is now natural gas (so cheap it is displacing coal on a cost basis in the US.)

The smoothing by geographical distribution is an illusion, btw. Solar is subject to sun and cloud, which affects reasonalble size chunks of real estate at once. And "balancing" alternate dropoffs in feed is not a feature, it's a bug. The switching and variable regional swings in output are a nightmare for grid management. Solar sucks for base load demand; its vagarities must be made up by conventional plants, "detuned" to be able to ramp up and down rapidly, which both slams their efficiency and multiplies wear and tear and maintenance.

Dilute distributed variable power is the very opposite of what advanced economies need.

kalikgod | 27 ottobre 2012

I agree with Brian H here. If residential solar was providing a significant portion if the grid (~5% or more), it would be problematic because the grid operators would have no communication information on whether those sources were coming online or going off line.

In terms you could say, it is a feedback not a feed forward design. That is a much more unreliable way to run a grid. Major amounts of distributed energy generation (of any kind) really need to be firmed by energy storage.

Docrob | 27 ottobre 2012

Kalik, there is no difference between the impact of a large number of intermittent generators on the grid and the impact of large numbers of intermittent loads. A 5 kw solar array cycling on and off has exactly the same impact as a 5kw a/c unit, refrigerator or any other intermittent load. Just as with solar the grid operators have no communication about when those loads are coming online or going offline and yet the grid has handled such fluctuations for decades without difficulty. The reality is many generators are designed to load follow and respond quickly and easily to fluctuating demand, they are just as capable of responding to intermittent supply. In fact when a home solar array produces and it's output is used in house or by neighboring homes to the grid operator it simply appears like consumption has fallen.

Once intermittent production represents >20% the load matching capability of the grid will become exhausted and beyond that a combination of smart grid demand response and/or grid storage will become necessary but the grid is perfectly capable of handling significant amounts of intermittent supply just as capably as it handles significant intermittent demand.

Brian H | 27 ottobre 2012

grid operators beg to differ. On a large scale, for example, Poland recently cut off all German solar and wind power imports, as it was way more trouble than it was worth to accommodate the spikes and sags. Caused considerable consternation on the German side; I think they're having to dump output to ground at times now.

Solar and wind producers claim to be able to forecast swings soon enough to compensate, but in practice not so much.

MB3 | 27 ottobre 2012

Brian. Can you provide a link to that story. I see related press, but the details are different.

Brian H | 27 ottobre 2012

It was a while ago, and I haven't located it yet, but here's a recent related one:

Docrob | 27 ottobre 2012

Brian, Polands geopolitical decisions reveal absolutely nothing about technical capability. The reality is Germany saw 25.1% of its power come from renewables in the first 6 months of 2012, 57% of that was from wind and solar or 14% of total electricity generation from intermittent renewables and their grid has not collapsed. There has been some talk of scaling back stimulus funding because with current growth rates intermittent penetration will become an issue in a few years without further load balancing capacity, but at 14% their grid is handling the intermittency of wind and solar without major issues.

MB3 | 27 ottobre 2012

Brian. that article doesn't say that Poland cut off all German power. Also, it didn't say that the intermittent nature of the power was the cause of the problem. It does say that the aging infrastructure in Eastern Europe cannot handle the excess power. Is it also true that this a problem for modern infrastructure?
For me, this is a side issue, because my focus is on how I can get the cheapest energy to power my car. So far, no one has showed me a cheaper solution than solar.

MB3 | 27 ottobre 2012

I don't mean utility scale but rather residential solar.

Brian H | 27 ottobre 2012

Residential scale works well for the resident. Too well if FIT is set at a premium. That sends national budgets into panic pull-back mode.

kalikgod | 27 ottobre 2012


Did you mean cheapest renewable energy? Where are you located? Who is your electric provider? What do you pay for grid power?

I am sure some of us on here can give some ideas on sourcing power.

MB3 | 28 ottobre 2012

Kalikgod. I have SoCal Edison. The residential rates start at 14c and go to 41c per kwh. I am already committed to solar for myself, because I think it was the cheapest option. At 41c it would cost more than gas to power my car.

A summary of my calculations is at!822&authkey=!AMxn....
The worksheet called Cost of Energy is where to look. I installed a 5kWh system that produces an average of 27 kWh/day. I have 25yr warranty on panels and micro-inverters. The panels have a 80% performance warranty over 25 years and I made the simplifying assumption that it would decay linearly over that period. One section of the spreadsheet, period 2, allows for maintenance (or upgrade). I turned it off, because with the micro-inverters individual panels can fail without penalty to the whole system. If that happens before 25 years, I can replace under warranty, and if it happens after 25 years, I will have options to replace or not.

Bottom line is that even without incentives energy costs are 8c per kwh. With incentives it will be cheaper, but I'm not sure how much cheaper, I guessed 50% because I've often heard that number quoted. Even if retail energy costs don't go up, that saves almost 60%.

If there is a better deal out there than solar it's too late for me, but others might benefit.