How much physical coal is required to produce enough electricity to power the average electric vehicle
, Low-carbon Innovation Strategist
Originally Answered: How much physical coal is required to produce enough electricity to power the average electric vehicle (tesla, volt, etc) for 300 miles?
First off, the standard statement: no grid is 100% coal generation and pretty much all new demand these days reduces the percentage of coal generation on a grid.
That said, let's break it down:
- A 2012 Tesla Model S with the 85 KWH battery pack has an EPA rated range of 265 miles.
- Very little math tells us that 300 miles would require about 96 KWH.
- "Since coal has a heat value of 20,000 kJ/kg, for producing one KWH we require (10765 / 20000) 0.538 kg of coal. "
- 96 KWH would require, once again through simple math, just under 52 KG of coal or about 114 pounds of coal.
- Fortuitously, coal often comes in 50 kg sacks, allowing us to find a picture of someone carrying one for scale.
- For comparison, gasoline weighs 2.83 kg or 6.25 lbs per US gallon, so 20 gallons would weigh about 57 kg or 125 pounds, slightly more than the coal. Of course, that's assuming a car that gets 15 miles per gallon which kind of sucks. Here's a guy filling up a bunch of five gallon cans with gas in preparation for a hurricane for comparison.