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Old 03-11-2013, 02:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Interesting read about electric cars...

Bjorn Lomborg: Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret

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If a typical electric car is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the car will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Similarly, if the energy used to recharge the electric car comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will be responsible for the emission of almost 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every one of the 50,000 miles it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gas-powered car.

Even if the electric car is driven for 90,000 miles and the owner stays away from coal-powered electricity, the car will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than its gas-powered cousin. This is a far cry from "zero emissions." Over its entire lifetime, the electric car will be responsible for 8.7 tons of carbon dioxide less than the average conventional car.

Those 8.7 tons may sound like a considerable amount, but it's not. The current best estimate of the global warming damage of an extra ton of carbon-dioxide is about $5. This means an optimistic assessment of the avoided carbon-dioxide associated with an electric car will allow the owner to spare the world about $44 in climate damage. On the European emissions market, credit for 8.7 tons of carbon-dioxide costs $48.

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Old 03-11-2013, 06:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing this.
I have read reports like this before, but I fear they are biased.
What, for instance, makes that the electric car is so energy consuming to make? Not the engine, that's way easier to make. Electronics, then? That would be the BMS boards and some extra computing components. Don't think that tips the scale. The batteries, obviously? Hard to say, so many types. One thing is sure: they will be recycled.

Sure, the electricity has to be produced somehow and if that' s done by burning fossil fuel of any kind that means CO2 is being produced. But power plants are usually around or above 50% effective in generating electricity while the gas burning engine cannot get even half that. Some of the electricity gets lost in transport, conversion and battery storage, but I bet that is way less than half.

But, gas needs to be produced too. It needs to be pumped out of the ground, shipped, refined, shipped again, redistributed, chemically tweaked to the right octane level and doped with all sorts of additives.
The science magazine NWT ( Nature, Science, Technology, aimed at university graduates and the like) estimated that it takes 3 times as much energy to produce gas than can be derived from it.

So there you go. Even if producing electricity produces CO2, producing gas is way more polluting even before it gets burned in the engine.
That's no dirty little secret; it is the elephant in the room mr. Lomborg failed to notice.
Why does he miss that? He is just an unbiased observer, right? All electricity is produced from coal, right? No bias, yeah. Maybe he missed that elephant because it blinded his eyes with a nice paycheck, or vouchers for free gas for life?
Nobody pays me for writing this of course.
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It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

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Old 03-11-2013, 07:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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We are now getting less than 40% of our electricity from coal, and it is going down every year.

Mr. Lomborg is hardly unbiased, so unless he backs up claims (like how an electric car supposedly takes more carbon to build), then he's just talkin'.

Gasoline takes electricity to produce; from discovery of the oil, to drilling to extracting, and transport, storage and/or pipeline pumping, refinement, and even pumping it into your tank - and all that electricity and it's carbon footprint have to be counted in the gasoline. Also, there is a lot of natural gas and a lot of water used to extract oil and to refine it, and the entire energy overhead for the natural gas and water uses electricity, and that has to get added, as well.

The most important point is that electricity *can* come from renewable sources, and over time more and more of it is coming from renewable resources. So, oil gets dirtier and dirtier over time (sour crude and tar sands bitumen and deep water drilling and fracking) - electricity will get cleaner and cleaner over time.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedDevil View Post
gas needs to be produced too. It needs to be pumped out of the ground, shipped, refined, shipped again, redistributed, chemically tweaked to the right octane level and doped with all sorts of additives.
The science magazine NWT ( Nature, Science, Technology, aimed at university graduates and the like) estimated that it takes 3 times as much energy to produce gas than can be derived from it.

So there you go. Even if producing electricity produces CO2, producing gas is way more polluting even before it gets burned in the engine.
An EV is still not practical for me, so that's why I advocate for biofuels such as ethanol (which can be made out of a wide range of agricultural and food-processing residues), biodiesel, among others. Gasoline doesn't just pollute due to the amount of energy it requires for the petroleum refining, it also discompensates the carbon balance in the atmosphere.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedDevil View Post
But, gas needs to be produced too. It needs to be pumped out of the ground, shipped, refined, shipped again, redistributed, chemically tweaked to the right octane level and doped with all sorts of additives.
The science magazine NWT ( Nature, Science, Technology, aimed at university graduates and the like) estimated that it takes 3 times as much energy to produce gas than can be derived from it.
Yah... about that...

It currently takes the energy equivalent of 1 barrel of oil to extract 20 barrels of oil from the ground, and deliver it to the refinery. If we assume that a barrel of oil is worth 1.7 MW-h, it would take about 85 kW-h to do that extraction.

At this point, we're assuming that a barrel of oil is worth (1.7 MW-h - 85 kW-h), or about 1.615 MW-h. Okay, so far, so good. Now, let's take refining costs. It Let's say that it takes about 140 kW-h to turn that 42-gallon barrel of crude oil into about 45 gallons of useful things. So, taking 140 kW-h away from out 1.615 MW-h value, and we're left with 1.475 MW-h worth of available energy from that barrel of oil.

Now, gasoline accounts for roughly 47% of that barrel by volume. That means that there is about 21 gallons of gasoline produced (remember, we just spent 140 kW-h refining that barrel of oil). Also, 45 gallons of usable stuff are produced from that barrel. If we divide the remaining available energy content of what we have, by the number of gallons, we come up with about 32.8 kW-h of available energy per gallon. It's weird, I know, but it matches rather well with the fact that gasoline is commonly thought of as being about 33 kW-h of energy per gallon.

Now, let's go nuts, and say that gasoline production accounted for all 140 kW-h of the energy spent refining that barrel of oil, and that all other petroleum products from that barrel came scot-free! Okay, then, it would have taken 6.6 kW-h of energy to produce one gallon of gasoline.

Since, in the absolute (and unrealistic) worst-case scenario, it took about 6.6 kW-h to produce something that has a value of 33 kW-h. Even if we then throw away 80% of the energy value of gasoline, in the form of radiator waste heat, exhaust, mechanical losses, blah-blah-blah, that still leaves 6.7 kW-h left per gallon that actually does something.

Sounds like this "NWT" is a fiction magazine...

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So there you go. Even if producing electricity produces CO2, producing gas is way more polluting even before it gets burned in the engine.
That's no dirty little secret; it is the elephant in the room mr. Lomborg failed to notice.
Why does he miss that? He is just an unbiased observer, right? All electricity is produced from coal, right? No bias, yeah. Maybe he missed that elephant because it blinded his eyes with a nice paycheck, or vouchers for free gas for life?
Nobody pays me for writing this of course.
First, wildly unsupportable suppositions hiding as "facts," then "messenger attacking." Yah, you're really unbiased...
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Just charge an EV owner 45 bucks at registration to cover the offset, problem solved.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Right, that 6.6kWh would let a 2013 Leaf drive at least 23 miles, which is the same as an average car goes on a gallon of gasoline. So that means it takes just as much electricity to drive a gasoline car as it does an EV.

And *none* of the other carbon in the gasoline, or in the natural gas, etc. used to get the gasoline would be released into the atmosphere.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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So that means it takes just as much electricity to drive a gasoline car as it does an EV.
YES! It's completely true. I've seen similar math and conclusions done by other people that seems to support this. Weird but true.
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Right, that 6.6kWh would let a 2013 Leaf drive at least 23 miles, which is the same as an average car goes on a gallon of gasoline. So that means it takes just as much electricity to drive a gasoline car as it does an EV.
That 6.6 kW-h was after accounting for all of the incurred losses (waste heat, friction, etc). Can you say the same thing about the fuel that would have been burned to generate the electricity used to charge the EV? How much would that have been? And how do you address the article mentioning that it takes almost twice as much carbon generation to build a Li-ion battery, as opposed to building an entire conventional gasoline car?

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And *none* of the other carbon in the gasoline, or in the natural gas, etc. used to get the gasoline would be released into the atmosphere.
That last question of mine is still relevant.
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Old 03-12-2013, 06:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Yah... about that...
Sounds like this "NWT" is a fiction magazine...
First, wildly unsupportable suppositions hiding as "facts," then "messenger attacking." Yah, you're really unbiased...
Hey, I never said I was unbiased Nobody's paying me, I'm a fool in my own right. I won't go electric even though I hardly ever drive more that 100 miles a day.

But I strongly disagree about the claim that it takes just one barrel to produce twenty. That's not taking the effort in account to build the installations that get the oil out, fly in the personnel, etc.
Here on the North Sea there are several known oil deposits, but some won't get exploited because the oil price is just too low right now. It is too costly even at current oil prices. It wouldn't be if it took just 1 barrel for 20.

Maths are nice, but you can get any numbers depending on what you count in or out. The NWT's sources had done a full involvement (or whatever it translates to) study, including all activities needed to make the process possible and their support structure. You need to build a refinery, operate it, build roads, supply chains, etc.

Sorry that you don't like NWT's conclusions. I assure you they do a scientifical approach. But I recite from memory. Maybe, I give you that, they meant that it takes 3 times as much power to produce gas than can derived from it by the cars engine meaning that the chemical energy in gas is still somewhat higher than the energy wasted in production.
But even if they meant that it still derails the dirty little secret argument. It is just not true.

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It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

When I drive a car I'm a driver. When I'm sitting on my couch I'm a biker.
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