In early March, Musk announced the third part of Tesla’s secret grand plan (Master Plan Part 3) at the investor conference, expressing his hope to achieve a sustainable energy economy through changes in the following five areas, including:
- Replace gasoline cars with electric cars
- Popularizing heat pumps in homes, businesses and industries
- Implementation of high temperature heating and storage in industrial processes
- Electricizing planes and ships
- Generating electricity from renewable sources and providing energy from stationary storage
Musk once used one sentence to summarize Tesla's secret grand plan: The path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth. It means "the way to a fully sustainable energy future for the earth".
But at the time, the plan was accused of "lack of details," and Tesla's stock price fell more than 3% after hours.
Today, Tesla released a 41-page PDF——Master Plan Part 3 – Sustainable Energy for All of Earth
This PDF details their secret Master Plan Part 3 to create a better future for themselves and future generations by weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy.
The document also reveals more information about the 3 new cars:
- The entry-level model will use a 53kWh iron-lithium battery pack
- A small van will use a 100kWh high-nickel positive battery pack
- Another large bus will use 300kWh lithium iron battery pack
In addition, the existing Model 3/Y will all use 75kWh iron-lithium batteries, and the upcoming Cybertruck will use 100kWh high-nickel batteries.
The following is the full content of this PDF. You can also reply to the " Hongtu Project " on the WeChat official account of "Dong Chehui" to get the Word document of this article and the PDF document of the original text.
Table of contents
The current energy economy is very wasteful
plan to eliminate fossil fuels
- Re-powering the existing grid with renewable energy
- Shift to EVs
- Conversion to heat pumps in residential, commercial and industrial areas
- Electrification of high temperature heat transfer and hydrogen
- Sustainable Aircraft and Ship Fuels
- Creating a Sustainable Energy Economy
Fully sustainable energy economic model
- Energy Storage Technology Assessment
- Power Generation Technology Evaluation
- U.S.-limited model—meeting new electrification demands
- Worldwide Models – Meeting New Electrification Demands
- batteries for transportation
- ships and aircraft
- World Model Results – Electrification and Batteries in Vehicles
required land area
On March 1, 2023, Tesla proposed the third part of the Master Plan – a proposed path to achieve a global sustainable energy economy through electrification, sustainable energy production and storage. This article outlines the assumptions, sources and calculations behind this recommendation. Everyone is welcome to provide comments and exchanges.
The theory is divided into three main parts:
01 Electricity demand
Estimates of global energy demand without fossil fuels.
02 Power Supply
Build the lowest-cost combination of generation and storage resources to meet hourly electricity demand.
03 Material feasibility and investment
Determine the viability of materials needed for an electric economy and the manufacturing investments necessary to make it happen.
This paper finds that a sustainable energy economy is technically feasible and requires less investment and material extraction than today's unsustainable energy economy. While many previous studies have reached similar conclusions, this study aims to advance thinking related to the material density, manufacturing capacity, and manufacturing investments required for a transition across all energy sectors globally.
▲Estimated total investment required for this plan
The current energy economy is wasteful
According to the 2019 World Energy Balance Sheet of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global primary energy supply is 165 PWh/year, and the total supply of fossil fuels is 134 PWh/year. 37% (61PWh) was consumed before reaching the final consumer. This includes fossil fuel industry self-consumption during extraction/refining and conversion losses during electricity generation. Another 27% (44PWh) is lost to inefficient end uses such as internal combustion engine vehicles and natural gas heaters. Overall, only 36% (59PWh) of primary energy supply produces economically useful work or heat. Analysis from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab shows similar levels of inefficiency in the global and U.S. energy supply .
plan to eliminate fossil fuels
In an electrified economy based on sustainable generation, most upstream losses associated with mining, refining and burning energy to generate electricity are eliminated, along with downstream losses from non-electrical end uses. Some industrial processes require more energy input (e.g. production of green hydrogen), and some extraction and purification activities need to increase (involving metals used to make batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.).
The following 6 steps demonstrate the actions needed to fully electrify the economy and eliminate fossil fuel use. These six steps detail the assumptions about electricity demand in a sustainable energy economy and lead to a modeled electricity demand curve.
This model uses high-fidelity data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) from 2019 to 2022 to analyze the U.S. energy economy, and performs a 6-fold calculation based on the ratio coefficient of energy consumption between the U.S. and the world in 2019 in the IEA energy balance sheet Scale to estimate the actions needed for the global economy. This is a significant simplification and may be an area of focus for future analysis, as global energy demand is composed differently than in the United States and is projected to increase over time. Because of the current availability of these available data, this analysis is for the United States.
The plan considers onshore/offshore wind, solar, existing nuclear and hydro as sustainable sources of electricity generation, and considers existing biomass to be sustainable as well, although it may be phased out. Furthermore, the plan does not consider absorbing things like carbon dioxide emitted by burning fossil fuels over the past century, except for the direct air capture needed for synthetic fuel generation; any future implementation of such technologies would likely increase global energy demand.
01 Re-equipping the existing grid with renewable energy
Existing hourly electricity demand in the United States is modeled as an inflexible baseline demand from the EIA. For four U.S. subregions (Texas, Pacific, Midwest, and East), modeling was performed to account for regional variations, renewable resource availability, weather, and grid transmission constraints. This existing electricity demand is the baseline load that must be supported by sustainable generation and storage.
The world supplies 65PWh of primary energy per year to the electricity sector, including 46PWh per year of fossil fuels; however, only 26PWh per year of electricity is generated because of inefficiencies in converting fossil fuels to electricity. If the network were to be powered by renewable energy, only 26PWh of sustainable generation per year would be required to meet the requirements .
02 Shift to EVs
Due to higher powertrain efficiency, regenerative braking capability, and optimized platform design, electric vehicles are about 4 times more efficient than internal combustion engine vehicles. As shown in Table 1, this ratio is correct for passenger cars, light trucks, and class 8 semi-trailers.
▲Table 1: Efficiency comparison between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles
As a concrete example, Tesla's Model 3 consumes 131MPGe, while the Toyota Corolla consumes 34MPG, a difference of 3.9 times, and this ratio increases when taking into account upstream losses such as energy consumption associated with extracting and refining fuel (see Fig. 4).
▲Figure 4: Comparison between Tesla Model 3 and Toyota Corolla
To determine electricity demand for the electrified transportation sector, the historical monthly use of U.S. transportation oil (excluding air and marine transportation) in each subregion will be scaled by the above electric vehicle efficiency factor (4x). The Tesla fleet is split hourly into non-regulatory and regulated segments and is assumed to be the EV charging load profile in the 100% electrified transportation sector. Supercharging, commercial vehicle charging, and vehicles with a state below 50% SOC are considered non-regulating demand. Home and workplace AC charging is adjustable demand and is modeled with a 72-hour energy conservation constraint model, which reflects the flexibility most drivers have to charge when renewable resources are abundant. On average, Tesla drivers charge from 60% SOC to 90% SOC every 1.7 days, so relative to typical daily mileage, the EV has enough range to optimize its use of renewable energy Charging, provided there is charging infrastructure at home and at work.
Electrification of the global transportation sector eliminates 28 PWh of annual fossil fuel use and applies a 4x EV efficiency factor to create an additional electricity demand of approximately 7 PWh per year.
03 Moving to heat pumps in residential, commercial and industrial
Heat pumps move heat from source to sink by compressing/expanding an intermediate refrigerant. With proper selection of refrigerants, heat pump technology can be applied in space heating, water heating and washing machines in residential and commercial buildings, as well as in many industrial processes.
▲Figure 5: How the heat pump works
Air source heat pumps are the technology best suited for retrofitting gas furnaces in existing homes, delivering 2.8 units of heat per unit of energy consumed, based on a typical efficiency rating of 9.5 Btu/Wh with a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). Gas furnaces burn natural gas to generate heat. They have an annual utilization rate (AFUE) of about 90%. Therefore, the air source heat pump uses less energy (2.8/0.9) compared to using 3 times less than the natural gas boiler.
▲Figure 6: Compared with gas stoves, the efficiency of heat pumps for space heating is improved
residential and commercial areas
EIA provides historical monthly U.S. natural gas usage for the residential and commercial sectors for each subregion. A 3x heat pump efficiency factor will reduce energy demand if all gas appliances are electrified. The hourly load factor of the baseline electricity demand is applied to estimate the hourly electricity demand change from the heat pump, effectively attributing heating demand to time periods when the home is actively heating or cooling. In summer, residential/commercial demand peaks during the afternoon peak, when cooling loads are greatest, and in winter, demand follows the proverbial "duck curve," peaking in the morning and evening.
Globally, 18PWh of fossil fuel can be saved annually and 6PWh of additional electricity demand created through electrification of residential and commercial equipment with heat pumps.
▲Figure 7: Changes in residential commercial heating and cooling load rates in a day
Industrial processes can benefit from increased efficiency of heat pumps up to a maximum temperature of around 200°C, such as the food, paper, textile and wood industries. However, as the temperature difference increases, the efficiency of the heat pump decreases. Heat pump integration is delicate, and exact efficiency is highly dependent on the temperature of the heat source absorbed by the system (temperature is one of the factors determining heat pump efficiency), so a simplifying assumption of achievable COP range is used:
▲Table 2: Estimated Heat Pump Efficiency Improvement, by Temperature
According to the temperature composition of industrial heat provided by IEA and the assumed heat pump efficiency in Table 2, the modeled weighted industrial heat pump efficiency coefficient is 2.2.
The EIA provides historical monthly fossil fuel use by the industrial sector for each subregion8. All industrial fossil fuel use, excluding embedded fossil fuels in products (rubber, lubricating oil, others), is assumed to be for process heating. According to the International Energy Agency, 45% of process heat is below 200°C and when electrified with heat pumps, requires 2.2 times the input energy. The increased industrial heat pump electricity demand is modeled as an inflexible, flat hourly demand.
Globally, electrification of industrial process heat below 200°C with heat pumps could remove 12PWh of fossil fuels per year and create 5PWh of additional electricity demand.
04 Electrification of high temperature heat transfer and hydrogen production
Electrification of High Temperature Industrial Processes
Industrial processes requiring high temperatures (>200°C), which account for the remaining 55% of fossil fuel use, require special consideration. This includes steel, chemical, fertilizer and cement production, among others.
These high temperature industrial processes can be served directly by resistance heating, electric arc furnaces, or buffered by thermal storage to take advantage of low-cost renewable energy when there is a surplus of renewable energy. On-site thermal storage could be valuable to cost-effectively accelerate industrial electrification (e.g. direct use of thermal storage media and radiant heating elements).
▲Figure 8: Overview of thermal storage
▲Fig. 9A: Thermal storage – delivering heat to industrial processes through heat transfer fluids
▲Fig. 9B: Thermal storage – delivering heat to industrial processes through direct radiant heating
Resistance heating and electric arc furnaces have similar efficiencies to blast furnace heating and will therefore require similar renewable primary energy inputs. These high temperature processes are modeled as an inflexible, flat demand.
The heat storage is modeled as an energy buffer for high temperature process heat in the industrial sector with a round-trip thermal efficiency of 95%. In areas with high installed solar capacity, thermal storage will tend to charge at noon and discharge at night to meet continuous 24-hour industrial heat demand. Figure 9 shows possible heat carriers and illustrates several materials that are candidates for providing process heat >1500C.
Electrification of global industrial process heat >200C could eliminate 9PWh of fossil fuels per year and create 9PWh of additional electricity demand, assuming equal heat transfer efficiencies.
▲Figure 10: heat storage medium
Sustainable production of hydrogen for steel and fertilizer
Today, hydrogen is produced from coal, oil and natural gas, and is used to refine fossil fuels (especially diesel) and for various industrial applications (including steel and fertilizer production).
Green hydrogen can be produced by electrolysis of water (high energy intensity, no carbon-based products are consumed/produced) or by methane pyrolysis (low energy intensity, solid carbon black by-product is produced, which can be converted into useful carbon-based products).
To conservatively estimate the electricity demand for green hydrogen, the assumptions are:
– Future fossil fuel refining will not require hydrogen
– Steel production will be converted to the direct reduced iron process, requiring hydrogen as an input. The hydrogen demand for the reduction of iron ore (assumed to be Fe3O4) is based on the following reduction reaction:
Reduction with hydrogen:
– All hydrogen production worldwide comes from electrolysis.
These simplifying assumptions for industrial demand lead to a global demand for green hydrogen of 150 Mt/yr, which is estimated to require about 7.2 PWh of sustainable electricity per year from electrolysis.
The electricity demand for hydrogen production is modeled as a flexible load with annual production constraints, and the hydrogen storage potential is modeled as an underground gas storage facility (like natural gas stored today) with maximum resource constraints. The underground gas storage facilities used to store natural gas today could be converted to store hydrogen; simulated US hydrogen storage would require about 30% of the existing US underground gas storage facilities. Be aware that some storage facilities, such as salt caverns, are not evenly distributed geographically, which can present challenges, and that there may be better alternative storage options.
Global sustainable green hydrogen could eliminate 6PWh of fossil fuel energy use and 2PWh of non-energy use per year . Fossil fuel is replaced for an additional electricity demand of 7PWh.
05 Sustainable aircraft and ship fuel
Both continental and intercontinental ocean shipping could be electrified by designing speeds and routes optimally so that smaller batteries can be charged more frequently on long routes. According to the International Energy Agency, global ocean shipping consumes 3.2 watt-hours per year. By applying the 1.5x electrification efficiency advantage, a fully electrified global fleet would consume 2.1PWh of electricity per year.
With today's battery energy densities, short-distance flight can also be electrified by optimizing aircraft design and flight trajectories. Longer-distance flights, which account for an estimated 80 percent of air travel's energy consumption (85 billion gallons of jet fuel is consumed globally annually), can be synthesized from excess renewable electricity by utilizing the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process, which uses carbon monoxide ( CO) and hydrogen (H2) to synthesize a variety of liquid hydrocarbons, and has proven to be a viable route to the synthesis of jet fuel. This requires an additional 5PWh of electricity per year, consisting of:
- Hydrogen produced by electrolysis
- Carbon dioxide captured by direct air capture
- Carbon monoxide produced by electrolysis of carbon dioxide
The carbon and hydrogen for synthetic fuels can also be obtained from biomass. More efficient and cost-effective methods of producing synthetic fuels may emerge in time, and higher energy density batteries will electrify the longest-distance aircraft, reducing the need for synthetic fuels.
The electricity demand for synthetic fuel production is modeled as a flexible demand with annual energy constraints. Synthetic fuels can be stored using conventional fuel storage techniques, assuming a 1:1 volume ratio. Electricity demand for ocean shipping is modeled as a constant hourly demand.
Globally sustainable synthetic fuels and electricity for ships and aircraft could eliminate 7PWh of fossil fuels and create 7PWh of additional global electricity demand per year .
06 Creating a Sustainable Energy Economy
The combination of generation and storage—solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries—needed to build a sustainable energy economy requires additional electricity. This electricity demand is modeled as an increment, and in the industrial sector, this electricity demand is modeled as an hourly incremental, non-adjustable, flat demand in the industrial sector. See Appendix: Building a Sustainable Energy Economy – Energy Density for more details.
Building a fully sustainable energy economy model
These 6 steps establish a US electricity demand that can be met through sustainable generation and storage. To this end, a generation and storage mix is built using an hourly cost-optimal integrated capacity expansion and dispatch model. The model is divided between four sub-regions of the United States, models transmission limits between regions, and is run over four weather years (2019-2022) to reflect a range of weather conditions sk. Interregional transmission limits are estimated interregional transmission limits based on current line capacity ratings on major transmission routes issued by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) regional entities (SERC, WECC, ERCOT). Figure 11 shows the energy requirements for a fully electrified economy across the United States.
▲Map 1: The interconnectedness of the simulated regions of the United States
The wind and solar resources in each region were modeled with their respective hourly capacity factors (that is, how much electricity is produced per hour per megawatt of installed capacity), their interconnection costs, and the maximum capacity for which the model could be built. Wind and solar hourly capacity factors for each region were estimated using each region's EIA's historical wind/solar generation to capture differences in resource potential due to regional weather patterns. Capacity factors are scaled to represent forward-looking trends based on the recent Princeton U.S. Net Zero Emissions Study. Figure 11 shows hourly capacity factors for wind and solar across the United States versus time. Table 3 shows the average capacity factors and demand by region in the United States.
▲Table 3: Historical average capacity factors for wind and solar power, and demand for full electrification by region
The model establishes generation and storage based on the cost and performance attributes of specific resources, with the overall goal of minimizing the levelized cost of energy. The model assumes increased interregional transfer capacity.
To provide reliable year-round power, it is economically optimal to deploy excess solar and wind capacity, which leads to curtailment. when:
- When solar and/or wind power generation is higher than a region's electricity demand;
- Storage is full;
- Curtailments occur when there is no transmission capacity available to transmit excess generation to other regions.
There are economic trade-offs between building excess renewable generation capacity and building grid storage or expanding transmission capacity. This trade-off may change as grid storage technologies mature, but based on modeling assumptions, the optimal mix of generation and storage results in a 32% curtailment.
For context, markets with high penetration of renewable energy are already shrinking. 19% of wind generation in Scotland was curtailed in 2020 and 6% of solar generation in California (CAISO) in 2022 was curtailed due to operational constraints, such as thermal generators not being able to reduce to minimum operating levels, or localized congestion on the transmission system.
A sustainable energy economy will provide consumers with abundant and cheap energy, which will affect how and when energy is used. In Figure 12 below, the hourly dispatch in the fall sample is shown, showing the role of each generation and storage resource in balancing supply and demand and the concentration of economic curtailments during the sun-full hours of the day.
In Figure 14, hydrogen storage is typically filled in spring and autumn, when electricity demand is low due to the end of the heating and cooling seasons and relatively more solar and wind power generation. Likewise, as excess generation in summer and winter is reduced, hydrogen storage is reduced, providing hydrogen storage across seasons.
Energy Storage Technology Evaluation
For stationary applications, we consider the energy storage technologies in Table 4 below, which are currently deployed on a large scale. Li-ion refers to lithium iron phosphate/graphite lithium-ion battery. Considering the volatility of commodity prices (especially lithium), a conservative future installed cost range for lithium-ion is listed. While there are other emerging technologies such as metal-air (Fe <-> Fe2O3 redox) and Na-ion, these are not being deployed commercially and are therefore not considered.
▲Table 4: Energy Storage Technology Evaluation
Power Generation Technology Evaluation
The table below details all power generation technologies considered in a sustainable energy economy. Installation costs are taken from 2030-2040 studies by NREL and the Princeton US Net Zero Study.
▲Table 5: Power Generation Technology Evaluation
US-only Model Results – Meeting New Electrification Demands
For the United States, the optimal mix of generation and storage to meet hourly electricity demand, for the modeled years, is shown in the table below.
▲Table 6: Model results for the United States only
In addition, 1.2 TWh of distributed stationary batteries were added based on the incremental deployment of distributed stationary storage alongside rooftop solar in residential and commercial buildings. This includes storage deployments of rooftop solar on 15 million single-family homes, industrial storage paired with 43GW of commercial rooftop solar, and storage replacing at least 200GW of existing backup generator capacity. Because distributed storage deployment is driven by factors not fully reflected in the minimum-cost model framework, including end-user resiliency and self-sufficiency, distributed storage deployment is an exogenous variable beyond the model output.
World Model Results – Meeting New Electrification Demands
Applying the 6 steps to the world's energy flow, 125PWh of fossil fuels needed for energy can be left over each year and replaced with 66PWh of sustainable electricity generation. An additional 4PWh of new industry is needed each year to manufacture the batteries, solar panels and wind turbines needed.
The global generation and storage mix to meet electricity demand is calculated by scaling the US resource mix by a factor of six. As noted above, this is a significant simplification and may be an area for improvement in future analyses, as global energy demand is composed differently than in the United States and is projected to increase over time. The analysis was conducted for the United States due to the availability of high-fidelity hourly data.
▲Figure 15: Sustainable energy economy, global energy flows
batteries for transportation
According to OICA, there are 1.4 billion cars in the world today, with an annual production of about 85 million passenger cars. Based on battery pack size assumptions, the fleet would require 112 TWh of batteries. Autonomous driving technology has the potential to reduce the global fleet and annual production by improving vehicle utilization.
Standard range vehicles can utilize lower energy density chemicals (LFP), while longer range vehicles require higher energy density chemicals (high nickel). The following table lists the cathode distribution in the automotive field. High nickel refers to the low-to-zero-cobalt nickel-manganese cathodes currently in production that are being developed at Tesla, Tesla's suppliers, and research groups.
▲Table 7: Fleet breakdown
A global fleet of electric vehicles
ships and aircraft
Based on an annual demand of 2.1PWh, if ships are charged on average about 70 times a year to 75% capacity each time, then 40TWh of batteries would be required to electrify the ocean fleet. Assume that 33% of the fleet requires high-density nickel and manganese-based cathodes and 67% of the fleet requires only low energy density LFP cathodes. For the aviation industry, if 20% of the approximately 15,000 narrow-body aircraft were electrified with a 7 MWh battery pack, a 0.02TWh battery would be required.
These are conservative estimates and will likely require fewer batteries.
▲Table 8: Breakdown of Ships and Aircraft
World Model Results – Electrification and Transportation Batteries
Table 9 summarizes the generation and storage mix to meet global electricity demand, and transportation storage requirements based on vehicle, ship, and aircraft assumptions. An explanation of how the combination of generation and storage is allocated to end users can be found in the Appendix: Allocation of Generation and Storage to End Uses.
▲Table 9: Power generation and storage combinations and transportation batteries to meet global electricity demand
Investments listed here include fabrication facilities, mining and refining operations, and the installation of salt caverns for hydrogen storage. Manufacturing facilities are sized based on the replacement rate of each asset, and upstream operations (such as mining) are sized accordingly. Materials requiring significant capacity growth are:
- For mining: nickel, lithium, graphite and copper;
- For refining: Nickel, Lithium, Graphite, Cobalt, Copper, Battery Grade Iron and Manganese.
Table 9 summarizes the generation and storage mix to meet global electricity demand, and transportation storage requirements based on vehicle, ship, and aircraft assumptions. a An explanation of how the combination of generation and storage is allocated to end users can be found in the appendix: Allocation of generation and storage to end uses.
In addition to the initial expenditure, maintenance expenditure of 5% per year for 20 years is included in the investment estimate. Based on these assumptions, building the manufacturing infrastructure in a sustainable energy economy would cost $10 trillion, compared to projected fossil energy spending of $14 trillion over 20 years at the 2022 investment pace.
▲Figure 16: Investment Comparison
▲Table 12: Investment summary
The table below provides more detail on mining, refining, auto plants, battery plants and recycling assumptions. Mining and refining assumptions are internal estimates of industry averages based on published industry reports:
Vehicle and battery factories
recycle and re-use
required land area
Land area required Solar land area requirements are estimated based on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) empirical assessment of real-world projects in the United States, which found a median power density of 2.8 for fixed solar panels installed in 2011-2019 Acres/MWdc. Converting MWdc to MWac using a conversion ratio of 1.4 yields approximately 3.9 acres/MWac. Therefore, a global fleet of 18.3TW of solar panels would require approximately 71.4 million acres of land, or 0.19% of the global total of 36.8 billion acres . Land area requirements for wind are estimated based on research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which found a direct land use of 0.75 acres per megawatt. Therefore, a global wind turbine fleet of 12.2TW would require approximately 9.2 million acres of land, or 0.02% of the total land area.
Total materials required for solar panels, wind turbines and circuit miles are calculated based on third party material strength assumptions. The material strength of the battery is based on internal estimates. Material density assumptions for solar panels and wind turbines come from European Commission reports. Crystalline silicon wafers are used for solar cells, while rare-earth minerals are excluded from wind turbines as progress has been made in developing the technology.
According to the International Energy Agency's 2050 Net Zero Pathway study, the world will need to add or rebuild approximately 60 million miles of electrical circuits to achieve a fully sustainable electrified global economy. Distribution capacity will be expanded primarily through re-routing of existing lines and expansion of substation capacity to accommodate substantial increases in peak and average end-user demand. High-voltage transmission will primarily expand geographic coverage, connecting large-scale wind and solar generation capacity to densely populated areas. To estimate material requirements, 90% of the 60 million circuit miles would be rewiring of existing low-voltage distribution systems and 10% would be new circuit miles from high-voltage transmission, which is the current ratio of high-voltage transmission to low-voltage distribution in the United States .
Based on the above assumptions, the total weight of 12.815 billion tons (444 million tons per year) will be 30 terawatts of power generation and 240 terawatts of battery energy storage, as well as the needs of 60 million miles of transmission.
The material flow (i.e. how much land is moved) associated with these materials depends on the ore grade and the yield of the overall process. Using internal estimates of industry averages compiled from published industry reports (see Table 19), the required annual mass flow is estimated at 3.3 gigatonnes (Gt). If copper (1% ore grade) is replaced by aluminum (50% ore grade), the mass flow rate can be reduced, which is possible in many use cases. Assuming 50% of the lithium is extracted from 100% ore grade brine, if this were not the case, the mass flow associated with lithium would increase by 0.8Gt.
According to the 2023 Circularity Gap Report, 68Gt of materials, excluding biomass, are extracted from the earth each year, of which fossil fuels account for 15.5Gt. In a sustainable energy economy, material extraction would be reduced by 10.8Gt – the majority of fossil fuel extraction being replaced by 3.3Gt of renewable material extraction. Assuming continued fossil fuel extraction associated with non-energy end uses (i.e. plastics and other chemicals), accounts for about 9% of fossil fuel supply according to the IEA.
The total material extracted in Table 18 was assessed against the 2023 USGS resource to assess feasibility. For silver, the USGS does not publish resource estimates, so reserves are used. The analysis shows that solar panels will need 13 percent of the USGS' silver reserves in 2023, but the silver could be replaced by copper, which is cheaper and more abundant. Graphite demand can be met with natural and man-made graphite – the former is mined and refined, the latter is derived from petroleum coke. Therefore, the graphite resource base has been increased to take into account synthetic graphite production from petroleum products. If only a small portion of the world's petroleum resources is used for artificial graphite production, then graphite resources will not be a limiting factor. Ongoing development work is aimed at evaluating other carbonaceous products as feedstocks for artificial graphite production, including carbon dioxide and various forms of biomass.
In conclusion, there are no fundamental material constraints when evaluating against the 2023 USGS estimated resource. Additionally, resources and reserves have historically increased – that is, when a mineral is in demand, there is more incentive to find it, and thus more minerals to be discovered. The annual mining, concentration and refining of associated metal ores must grow to meet the demands of a renewable energy economy, with fundamental constraints being human capital and timing of licensing/regulation. Based on Ministry estimates (see Table 19), the required annual mass flow is estimated at 3.3 gigatons (Gt). If copper (1% ore grade) is replaced by aluminum (50% ore grade), the mass flow rate can be reduced, which is possible in many use cases. Assuming 50% of the lithium is extracted from 100% ore grade brine, if this were not the case, the mass flow associated with lithium would increase by 0.8Gt.
According to the 2023 Circularity Gap Report, 68Gt of materials, excluding biomass, are extracted from the earth each year, of which fossil fuels account for 15.5Gt. In a sustainable energy economy, material extraction would be reduced by 10.8Gt – with the majority of fossil fuel extraction replaced by 3.3Gt of renewable material extraction. Assuming continued fossil fuel extraction associated with non-energy end uses (i.e. plastics and other chemicals), accounts for about 9% of fossil fuel supply according to the IEA.
recycle and re-use
To support this plan, substantial primary material demand growth is required to facilitate manufacturing for a sustainable energy economy, which will level off once manufacturing facilities are strengthened. In 2040, recycling will begin to meaningfully reduce primary material demand as batteries, solar panels and wind turbines reach the end of their useful life and valuable materials are recovered. While mining demand will decrease, refining capacity will not.
A fully electrified and sustainable economy is achievable through the actions of this paper:
- Re-powering the existing grid with renewable energy
- switch to electric vehicles
- Conversion to heat pumps in residential, commercial and industrial areas
- Electrification of High Temperature Heating and Hydrogen Production
- Sustainable fuel for aircraft and ships
- Creating a Sustainable Energy Economy
The models show that an electrified and sustainable future is technically feasible and requires far less money and materials than continuing today's unsustainable energy economy.
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