Skip to main content

Tesla does the math to transition the world to sustainable energy

Tesla has done the math to better understand what it takes to transition the world to sustainable energy and released it during its Investor Day.

When on stage during the event, CEO Elon Musk said that it was about hope:

This event is about hope and optimism that is based on physics. Earth will move to a sustainable energy economy, and it will do so in your lifetime.

The CEO and Drew Baglino, Tesla’s top engineer, explained how they see the path to achieving this sustainability as mostly straightforward.

To explain it, they did the math and highlighted it in a series of slides:

That’s all Tesla believes the world needs for the energy economy to be fully sustainable.

Here’s the breakdown of all the related industries:

The company is making it sound relatively reasonable, and it has some good points to support its calculations.

First off, electric vehicles and renewable energy are so much more efficient than fossil fuels that you need to deploy a lot less capacity of the former to replace the latter:

That’s a great starting point and highlights just how much more efficient of a solution electrification is than burning fossil fuels.

The two biggest industries to address are energy and transport. Tesla broke down the needed energy and energy storage capacity to make the transition:

Tesla also highlighted heat pumps as a massive opportunity and the “‘lowest hanging fruit” to reduce fossil fuel use:

Another important thing that Musk and Baglino tried to highlight throughout the presentation is that for the biggest industries – energy and transport – we are already well underway, and that’s where Tesla plans to have the biggest impact:

For those worried about the cost of making that transition, Tesla isn’t worried about its own impact, which it plans to support through its own operations.

Top comment by Lucian

Liked by 6 people

Can anyone explain how a battery based electric economy can be sustainable taking into consideration the limited lifetime of the batteries? From what i know, Tesla is not building pyramids that might outlive most of us by orders of magnitude, but their products have a lifetime of around 10 years, looking at their warranty periods. So let's say we spend the 10 trillion in 10 years and the global economy transitions entirely to use batteries of the total specified 240 TWh capacity as an energy storage solution. Now, after 10 more years, after the batteries start failing, wouldn't we need to spend those 10 trillion all over again? So the 10 trillion aren't actually recurring costs every 10 years? From what i heard, a single 100KWh EV battery costs $20k to replace. How is this sustainable, keeping in mind the costs of recycling and replacing the failing batteries, for all of them, 10 times over the next 100 years?

Similarly to how all the current people living currently on Earth won't be around 100 years from now, but will be different people entirely, the same should be expected with batteries, but only 10 years from now, with the same (maybe slightly smaller) cost of the "transition" repeated all over again every 10 years.

Am i missing something?

View all comments

On a worldwide scale, Tesla’s math came to an investment over 20 years that is 40% lower than the investment in fossil fuels over 20 years based on the rate of investment in fossil fuels in 2022.

As for mining, when accounting for oil extraction, Tesla argues that the transition to sustainable energy through electrification will result in lower overall resource extraction from the earth:

In short, Tesla’s calculations come to the conclusion that a transition to a sustainable energy economy through renewable energy and electric vehicles is not only feasible, but it is going to be cheaper than what we currently invest in fossil fuels.

While that was more of an overview, Musk said that Tesla will release the math and sources for people to challenge its view.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

Stay up to date with the latest content by subscribing to Electrek on Google News. You’re reading Electrek— experts who break news about Tesla, electric vehicles, and green energy, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow Electrek on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our YouTube channel for the latest reviews.



Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

Fred is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Electrek.

You can send tips on Twitter (DMs open) or via email:

Through, you can check out Fred’s portfolio and get monthly green stock investment ideas.