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Published on April 20th, 2012 | by Breath on the Wind

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Are Electric Cars “Green” No Matter Where You Plug-In?

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April 20th, 2012 by
 
 

Paul Stenquist of the New York Times attempted to educate us last Sunday by suggesting that pollution from electric cars is as clear as a sixth grade math problem. However, by 9th grade, we should begin to understand that although we can add any numbers together, it is the relationship between those numbers and something in the real world which gives us sensible results.

Programmers learn that many calculations can be made but that only when the right assumptions are used do we avoid the pitfall of: “garbage in, garbage out.” Mr. Stenquist is in pursuit of the “carbon footprint” for charging an electric vehicle. However, while the EV may have a carbon footprint that is related to its manufacture, the vehicle will never have a carbon footprint related to its operation. In part, this is because it is a zero emissions vehicle — while it is operating, there are no emissions. But will the vehicle produce emissions or, more to the point, be responsible for emissions while it is charging?

The Relationships Are Fundamental: EV / Owner / Power Plant

It is a convenient but inaccurate shorthand to say that an electric vehicle pollutes when, by definition, it is the human operator usage, not an object, that has a carbon footprint. We are used to simple answers for a petrol vehicle: Calculate the miles per gallon, add in that approximately 19 pounds of carbon dioxide are produced for every gallon burned, and you have a result. There is very little most operators can change. There is one engine and it takes one kind of fuel and the vehicle pollutes in its operation. We think of the operator as fixed, and the pollution from burning gasoline relatively fixed. Only the vehicle is a variable. So, we think of the vehicle as having a carbon footprint.

For an electric vehicle, as is pointed out in the Union of Concerned Scientists study that he relies upon and we have reported on elsewhere, the electricity that is used to charge a battery-operated vehicle can come from many sources. It may be an operator’s power choice that determines pollution levels. It may be a power plant mix that determines pollution levels. It may be the time of day for a charge that determines pollution levels. But it is not the vehicle. The vehicle does not produce emissions. In this case, it is the vehicle that is relatively fixed while the operator choices and power plant both offer elements that can change. It makes the least sense to identify the “carbon footprint” with the vehicle. The electric car is a “green vehicle.” The operator and the electrical source may not be. Yet, popular media and Paul Stenquist persists in discussing the greenhouse emissions of an electric car.

Attributing pollution from power plants to electric vehicles is also known as the “long tailpipe argument” and I have written on this previously. The argument tries to forge a relationship between polluting power plants and clean electric vehicles that will tarnish the pure emissions prospect for the EV. It is as if Mrs. EV decides to marry the only available guy in town — Mr. Polluting Power Plant. Should she be branded with a family history that she can’t change? To do so would be either an unjustified attack or ignorance.

We only have to examine the differences between gasoline and electric vehicles to see that the long tailpipe argument also stands upon two unmentioned assumptions. First, that the vehicle operator is not a variable in the equation. And second, like gasoline, for every unit of electricity being used some static unit of pollution is being produced. Even more fundamental, and unlike petrol vehicles, there is with a ZEV the possibility of comparing the clean renewable energy available to the number of vehicles in operation. With electric vehicles, it is probably a poor choice to compare the vehicle to electrical grid pollution levels at all.

Pollution Depends upon the Operator

If we have a petrol vehicle and go to the gas pump, our choices are limited and pollution is built into the engine and the fuel. An electric vehicle owner, however, can charge their vehicle at night or during the day to make a difference. They can seek or build clean sources of electrical power. No petrol owner is going to build their own refinery and their fuel choices are limited.

Pollution Depends upon the Time of Charging

Petrol production can continue 24/7 and each unit of pollution can be attributed to each unit of gasoline produced. Coal-fired power plants are the most emission-producing forms of electrical generation. They are also baseload power plants. They must be run 24/7 or suffer boiler failures. But electricity must be used as it is produced. Production tries to match demand but fails where there are many coal-fired power plants. Especially in areas with a high coal usage, there is likely to be an excess in generation capacity over the demand present at night. The plants are running in any event. They are polluting in any event.

In this case, each unit of pollution does not match each unit of electricity used. Some electric vehicles charging at that time will not be “responsibile” for any added pollution from these coal-fired power plants. The coal plants would be running and polluting in any event. The connection is broken because the nature of electrical generation is different from petrol production, which is a form of energy storage. In this case, the electric vehicle provides the energy storage. Paradoxically, where the electrical production is most polluting, the EV is most helpful in reducing that pollution (to the extent of unused capacity).

Measuring the Electrical Energy Mix is Always a Guess

We speak with authority about the electrical energy mix of an area or our country, but, in every case, we are using historical data to extrapolate our present situation. It is what we call an educated guess. The use of coal has been on a dramatic decline for electrical generation in the US for almost 10 years. Renewable sources of energy have been on the rise. In some areas of the country, wind power has out-produced all other forms of electrical production, for a time.

AVAILABLE RENEWABLE GENERATION — A BETTER METRIC

We like to count all the power sources in an area and make a guess what the average mix will be. We do this despite operator variability. We do this despite a varying grid energy mix or time of day usage, and then we have the hubris to ascribe pollution to the one fixed and non-polluting element, the electric car. But we also discuss carbon offsets. There is a sense that if we can reduce carbon production sufficiently, our activities will have a net zero impact.

We could examine the amount of electrical generation in an area that is provided by renewable energy. By comparing this to the equivalent heat energy, we can compare electrical energy to the energy provided by gasoline. From this, we could determine the number of electric cars that could be supported by renewable sources of electrical production. On a US national level, we would find that if we replaced all of our approximately 300 million vehicles with electrical-powered ones, we would require approximately 30% of our present electrical usage. About 1/3 or 100 million electrical vehicles could be powered using the available renewable energy in the US. If we added the 20% of our energy presently produced by nuclear energy, we see that we have enough emission-free electrical energy production in the US to power our entire fleet of vehicles. Up to 84% of these vehicles could be presently powered with no extra equipment if they were charged at night.

And while we pursued this zero emission alternative, the numbers of polluting petrol vehicles on the roads would be reduced.

Our present hope is to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. This is about 1/3 of 1% of our fleet. Put in this perspective, concerns over the pollution of electric vehicle are insignificant and we already have enough renewable electrical energy production for many years and a much, much, much larger electrical vehicle fleet. But most interesting is that those areas in the center of the US with a high coal usage are also, because of the long distances between cities, most likely to adopt a limited numbers of electric vehicles. But those vehicles would be most helpful to the overall pollution picture in the areas.

The long tailpipe argument attempts to diminish an environmental rationale for buying an electric vehicle. But it is not the only rational. Cost and strategic reasons can be even more important and these are also mentioned in the UCSS executive summary:

[Electrical vehicle fueling from the electrical grid and not the gas pump will result] “…in significant reductions in the oil consumption, global warming emissions, and fueling costs of driving.”

There are many reasons to buy an electrical vehicle. In some of the most polluting areas of the country, they can be the brightest star. The connection between the EV and pollution is not a clear one and some writers can be drawn into the seductive call of misleading arguments. Precisely because EV energy supplies are so complex and likely of marginal impact to our overall pollution, it may be insignificant. At the very least, we can say that the long tailpipe argument is not a sound rationale to avoid a “green” electric vehicle choice.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

We share this World; its past, present resources and our combined future. With every aspiration, the very molecules we use for life are passed to others through time and space so that each of us may be considered a Breath on the Wind. This part of the world's consciousness lives in NYC; has worked in law, research, construction, engineering; has traveled, often drawn to Asia; writes on Energy and Electric Vehicle issues and looks forward to all your comments.   "If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect." -- Benjamin Franklin



  • Tim

    What always seems to be left out of these calculations (or at least not made visible) is the carbon footprint of producing a gallon of gas and transporting it to gas station. Electricity has essentially a zero footprint transportation cost, assuming initial infrastructure costs are similar, whereas gas is heavy and transporting it to a location to be available is not easy. This footprint needs to be deducted from the electricity footprint before it is needs to be offset by the end user reduction.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      good point.

  • http://www.duurzamebrabanders.nl/blog Henk Daalder Windparken Wiki

    This article and the comments show that the US market fundamentalism, degenerated the US society to a third world level, or worse.

    In well developed countries, “the government” provides and/or enforces a system that labels electricity. It is either green or not.
    This done with “guarantees of origin” that proves that a sustainable generator produces your electricity, or the juice from an EV charging point
    So consumers or companies know by their contract what type of electricity they have.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guarantee_of_origin

    In the Netherlands no company even dares to not provide real green electricity on their home or public EV charging points.

    This is what “Governments” are for.
    Government is just a agreement to do things the right way for “everyone”
    Unfortunately, not all of the us sees the simple wisdom of this, as it works in the rest of the world, “for the benefit of all of us”
    “all of us” is also a concept the US should try to understand, it is a step to become part of the developed world again.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      yes, unfortunately, the word ‘government’ has become a bad word in the US. too sad.

  • Charles

    This image sums up my thoughts on the topic - 
    http://www.buzzinterest.com/my-green-electric-car/  

    Electric cars just aren’t green, it’s a myth that governments for some reason seem desperate to spread.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Sorry Charlie…

      Your thoughts need a tuneup.  The grid is not 100% coal.

      In fact the US grid is now less than 36% coal….

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      and for an actual study on the matter that essentially says this theory belongs in the trash (not from a govt, by the way, but from an org that focuses on keeping the environment clean and protected):
      http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/18/electric-vehicles-greenhouse-gas-emissions-save-money/

  • http://twitter.com/Vectaiy Vectaiy

    It is possible to have a green car that gives off zero carbon emissions. Not only that, but it’s possible to make it 100% free to operate.

    http://www.vectairy.com

  • Mannlake54

    All in all I do like the concept of electric cars. Howeve in my neck of the woods I am seeing plenty of Chev Camaro’s, Dodge chargers, Ford diesel trucks etc. Men in particlar like the throaty sound of a V8 or big diesel and some of the gals too, that isn’t going away anytime soon. I asked some of these people how high would gas have to go before they gave up these vehicles, consensus was around $10.00.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Bet that would change when they saw what $10/gallon actually meant.

    • Breath on the Wind

      It is sometimes hard to buck the popular trend. What is popular is one of the things people tend to rely upon to tell them what is good or true, but an appeal to what is popular is also a falacy and can be completely wrong. Men tend to like anything that suggests power. This probably won’t change anytime soon but what is seen as powerful may change with the times.

      Women were once considered property, a blacksmith was once an important function in the community and to be fat was a sign of prosperity. Times change. Someday men will come to find satisfaction in the high initial torque of the electric motor (Look up “white zombie”) Sometimes it ony takes one person to take a stand to change the attitudes of a community.

    • jeffhre

      Mannlake54, that does sound true. If giving up their vehicles was voluntary. In 2008, gas going to $5.00, killed the economy. When folks lose their jobs in a broken economy, they will be asked to give up many nice gas powered cars because the notes can’t be paid. So $10.00 may be the preferred threshold, but we saw that many turned in their cars at $5.00 during this recession.

  • Mike in California

    So a person lives in an area where their utility produces electricity by burning coal…what is to stop the person from installing solar panels on their roof or a wind turbine? Problem solved.

    • Tom G.

      Absolutely correct Mike. I know of some people with Chevy Volts or Nissan Leafs that charge whenever they choose because they have done exactly what you suggested.

      According to the EPA if you live in the L. A. or San Diego area coal is only responsible for about 8% of your power. Nat. Gas 50%, Nuclear 16% and Hydro 12% and the rest from misc. sources. Keep on installing that solar, wind, geothermal and other clean sources and enjoy the cleaner, reduced carbon environment.

  • Tom G.

    I only have time for a few words before going out on the lake – beautiful day in Arizona.

    A little background, retired Licensed and Registered Professional Engineer and Certified Quality Engineer by the American Society for Quality. Worked for 20+ years in the public utility sector with much of that time at a nuclear facility in California.

    One of the big things missing from this study is TIME especially when it comes to energy production in the U.S. Our typical electrical grid is made up of many different TYPES of generation. Lots of coal, some nuclear, some hydro, some geothermal, some solar, some wind, some natural gas BUT I am not aware of any grid that is 100% coal 100% of the time. Lets talk about the importance of TIME.

    Let’s begin by assuming its a hot day in July, about 5:00 p.m.. All of our generation resources are running to meet demand. We are burning coal, in about 5 coal plants, our two nuclear units are still running 24/7 @100% power [they always run this way], our natural gas cogen units are @100% power pumping out kilowatts, We have some wind and solar but they are a very small part of our grid but getting bigger by the day, The geothermal plants are running [they always are] and we just started some natural gas peaking units to meet an unexpected peak demand. Oh and before I forget, we are importing some hydro electric power from Canada and we just closed the circuit breaker to get some power from Mexico.

    As we go thru the day [now 8:00 p.m] we find we no longer need to generate as much power so we begin to shut down generating units. First to go are the gas peaking units. They are expensive to run. Next we probably open the breaker to Mexico. We have probably already shut down 1 or maybe two co-gen units or reduced their output to 50%. Next we will probably take a coal plant or two and take them to hot standby [0% power] but ready to go if we needed them. And we continue to shed power generation as the night goes on.

    Newer ONCE do we waste any electricity. We don’t store it or save it unless you are talking about a hydro unit with a lake, LOL. Generation is real time. I don’t know WHO the individual was that started the phase “wasted electricity at night” but that is a very wrong assumption. If generation isn’t needed it is shut down. There really is no place for electricity TO GO if it is not needed! Anyway let’s move on.

    O.K. so it’s now 10:00 p.m. things have cooled off outside. We have shut down all of our generators except for the 2 nuclear units [remember they always run], some geothermal units [they also always run], 1 or 2 coal plants running at maybe 50% power, and we are still importing some of that really cheap hydro electric power.

    If you have been following the story – the carbon content of the grid at 2:00 p.m in the afternoon is significantly higher than at 8:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m., Therefor studies of the value of electric vehicles using AVERAGE grid values are not very realistic.

    When or if you ever buy an Electric Vehicle [EV] the dealer will most likely tell you to charge it at night. Even if the dealer didn’t mention that fact, here are two [2] reasons why you probably would.

    1. Public utilities provide cheaper electricity at night for EV charging. It helps the utility balance the load.

    2. The carbon content of grid electricity is significantly less at night. For the people who read this blog site this is probably an important aspect. However for many people, only the financial aspect is important. As we add more EV to our vehicle fleet AND the grid becomes cleaner by the addition of more solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and, etc. our air and water quality will improve and greenhouse gas emmissions wil decrease. To me these are good things.

    My only concern is – how much time do we have?

    o.k. I am done – going boating today. Sorry for any mis-spelliing; don’t have time to proof this.

    • Breath on the Wind

      Thanks Tom for taking the “time” to share your expertise with us.

      You said that “The carbon content of grid electricity is significantly less at night.” This is certainly true as less electricity is produced at night. As long as the energy mix at night changes to more emission free sources then overall carbon production will be less. But to what extent is this possible in states where 90% of the power comes from coal generation.

      You have also confirmed the treatment of coal fired power plants at night: “…Next we will probably take a coal plant or two and take them to hot standby (0% power) but ready to go if we need them. This is one step down from spinning reserve. Here you are turning the turbines off, but it is never the turbines that are causing carbon emissions. The boilers are still running and this is what makes the plant “ready to go if we need them.” Those coal fired and operating boilers are what produce the carbon emissions not the turbines.

      So now enough EV owners come along and plug in at night so that you have to turn one of those turbines back on. The boiler has not changed. it was producing emissions, it will continue to produce emissions. The added EV load mad no difference in the pollution levels. The effect is even more pronounced where coal is 90% of the energy mix. With so many coal fired power plants with boilers that can’t be turned off there is a tremendous amount of pollution that is not producing electricity.

      If I left you with the impression I believed electrons were leaking out of some wire at night into the ground that was mistaken. It is the ratio of electricity usage to pollution that is of interest. When the ratio is not a direct one as it is with petrol vehicles we have no justification to call the electric car, a zero emission vehicle, polluting. The vehicle doesn’t change from Arizona to Iowa. The vehicle is not polluting. It is owners and power plants that change.

      It we want a clean transportation system we need electric cars and then we need to take a look at owners and power plants. The EV is not a problem no matter where you plug in.

      I hope you have enjoyed your day of clean air on the lake and thanks again for your comment.

      • Tom G.

        To Breath on the Wind – Excellent posting

        I have tried to respond to as many of your questions as possible. You posting was excellent but before I get started, your comment about ‘electrons leaking’ was not directed at you. It was only meant to help others understand how utility operations work.

        First question. “As long as the energy mix at night changes to more emission free sources then overall carbon production will be less. But to what extent is this possible in states where 90% of the power comes from coal generation.“ Short answer – not a lot of options.

        But lets continue and see if there is some small hope at least. Lets assume the utility uses coal for 90% of its generation. That also mean that something other than coal is used for the remaining 10% of the load. You are of course correct that if these conditions remained the same 24/7 you could say 90% of this utilities grid power is provided by coal generation. However, that may not be totally correct because 10% of the power is coming from something else and it depends on how you manage that something else on your grid.

        Now I don’t know what that 10% is but it MIGHT be cleaner than coal. If that is the case then our time of day model is really important. Lets say the 10% is made up of 2 natural gas peaking units and 1 cogen natural gas plant. No nuclear, hydro, geothermal or other low carbon sources. At 3:00 pm. as before; everything is running at full power to meet the customer load. Its now 8:00 pm. and we have shut down SOMETHING since there is no longer a need for that much power. So did we shut down the natural gas units or did we shut down a coal plant? My guess is that the utility probably shut down the natural gas peaking units first and then the cogen unit power level was reduced to something less than 100%. For our model we will continue to assume this is the case so we can maintain our 90% coal to 10% something else ratio.

        But here is the rub. At peak hours this utility may be generating about 5,000 MW. At night time that level will drop to something less. Maybe something on the order of 60% of full power or a 40% reduction. I say 60% because the way the grid load works it usually takes about 40% more power to cover peak loads than the minimum loads at night. Of course this is an assumption based on my knowledge of the ISO western grid and not all grids are the same. A typical day on the western grid might take 15-19,000 MW in the morning and 28-32,000 MW during peak hours. But of course it all depends on location, time of year, day of the weeks, all kinds of variables.

        So right off the bat our hypothetical utility has reduced there carbon footprint by 40% because they are burning 40% less coal to carry 40% less grid load. Hence even with 90% coal the utility is actually creating less carbon in the evening hours because they are operating at reduced power level. Its like a car driving 100 mph. It is going about as fast as it can go, your foot is on the floor and the car is sucking fuel like crazy. But when it slows down to 60 mph it uses significantly less fuel hence less carbon is created. So even with a coal grid, charging at night takes place when the coal plant is creating less carbon. The only time this would not be true is if there were enough EV’s charging at night to bring the coal plant back up to 100% power. Unfortunately we don’t have nearly enough EV’s to do that and the way they are selling, we won’t have that many for many more years to come.

        Next question, hot standby vs hot shutdown. About the only difference is the turbine is on turning gear but is still turning abet very slowly driven by an electric motor, LOL. In either case the plants are using the minimum amount of coal to keep them ready. Like a car, they running but sitting at the curb idling and using a minimum amount of fuel hence they are creating very little carbon.

        Next question. “So now enough EV owners come along and plug in at night so that you have to turn one of those turbines back on. The boiler has not changed. it was producing emissions, it will continue to produce emissions. The added EV load made no difference in the pollution levels.”

        In 2011 GM sold about 7,600 Volts spread around the country. Figuring each needed the full 16 kWh recharge, we would need 122,700 kWh to charge them all on various different grids. An almost insignificant amount of power. When we start selling EVs in the hundreds of thousands of units, hopefully by then more of the grid will be converted to less carbon intensive fuels. But it is also true that a single EV charging makes almost no difference in the pollution levels but there is some small change – a few extra clumps of coal would be needed – in theory at least. However, that single EV on change would probably not even be detectable by a plant operator, LOL.

        “It we want a clean transportation system we need electric cars and then we need to take a look at owners and power plants. The EV is not a problem no matter where you plug in.”

        So true, so true. Have a wonderful day.

    • Patrick

      I know this is an old thread but I wanted to add that one often forgotten point is that electric cars are dramatically more energy efficient regardless of where that energy comes from. Even if we just powered then with coal they would be way better than gasoline.

      • Bob_Wallace

        While I’m a big fan of EVs, think they are likely to be our personal transportation solution, I don’t think the 100% coal argument is true.

        Multiple studies have found that EVs powered with 100% coal-generated electricity produce roughly the same or slightly more CO2 than ICEVs run on gasoline.

        Of course, that’s irrelevant as our grids are not 100% coal powered. Coal dropped to a 36% share in the first half of 2012 and will continue to drop.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake

    batteries = arsine

    • Breath on the Wind

      “Batteries” are not necessarily the way that electric vehicles will evolve. Wireless charging is already a reality and wireless roadways have been set up on an experimental basis.

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake

        Charging requires dc power… batteries…

  • joncatling

    …so many words, so little content, as seems the to be the accepted norm in ‘the internet’. Currently, energy ‘costs’.

    • Breath on the Wind

      It is often the case that when we find what we were not expecting we can’t see it.

  • CommonSensePost

    Wow, this guy is really misguided, with a strong agenda. Maybe this article should have been titled, “my reasons for supporting the EV, whether they make sense or not”.

    Is it really the case that electricity produced at night is clean because it would have been otherwise wasted? That seems a bit fishy to me as it takes more energy to run a turbine which is using electricity than one that is not, but maybe the author is right. Even so, I would assume people plug their cars in when they get home and start charging during peak hours. I doubt they wake up in the middle of the night to start the charge. I’m also pretty sure they need to plug in when they get to work in the morning, again pretty peak.

    There’s not a lot of science or analytics to this article, but why should we be surprised? It is like AGW. Even if you believe the earth is warming, how do you know it is CO2!? Because some model predicts that? A model will say whatever you program it to.

    I personally would like a little mor certainty before investing a major chunk of GDP which could go to paying for some of the stuff we are just borrowing against now. I KNOW that path will lead to ruin (a la Greece)!

    • Breath on the Wind

      Passion is the driver. Logic and discipline are the guidelines. The article is about a polluting label for the EV, a zero emission vehicle. Ask yourself why? Who would do this? For what reason. If someone called your sister “names” for their own gain you might find yourself reacting with a fair bit of energy.

      When we show a certain prejudice with labels, science tends to go out the window. That is the motivation behind calling the EV “polluting” It is fundimental to get our definitions and relationships in order before we can even begin to discuss numbers.

      The reference to coal fired power plants appears sporaticly around the web. There is not a lot of hard data. Why would an owner want to advertise the fact that their plants pollution/electricity ratio rises at night off peak. We do know that coal fired power plants can’t be turned off and have only a limited ability to be turned down before boiler damage rises. In areas where 90% of the power is coal fired it is very likely that there is excess unused pollution related energy off peak. And so we have a disconnect between the amount a plant can be turned down (about 20 to 30%) and the amount of reduced demand at night (40 to 60%) into which some EV charging can fall. It is reasonable to assume that those areas with a high coal fired power plant base have limited renewables and visa versa. Thanks for the comment.

    • jeffhre

      Timers! Timers turn on charging to take advantage of time of use pricing plans. Tonite, with tens of thousands of EV’s.

      39% of EV owners in California have solar energy at their homes. As for GDP, electricity is produced in America by Americans, and a big chunk of the gasoline supply is courtesy of Saudi Arabia and the good graces of Hugo Chavez.

      • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

        I think i’ve gotten this before, but what’s the source for “39% of EV owners in California have solar energy at their homes”

    • Johny

      We ran a Nissan LEAF on trial for 3 months and it’s on-board timer started it charging as soon as off-peak was available. It NEVER charged on peak and never at work – not necessary as my 50km round trip was well within it’s range.

      • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

        Nice. Didn’t recall that was an option.

  • Dustin

    Nuclear power is your alternative? Have you not watched the news and what occured in Japan? Your statitics are way over stated and I would hope not to find a person of such ingnorance having right over such a story. As for “Green” technology what exactly do you know about it? Are you aware that in a short period of time “less than a year” wind turbines require more cost for maintance than the power they produce? I know this not from some report but from men that live on my block that work such jobs. Calls for repair can occur as often as daily. Now solar power would you, or could you, give me some detail into the amount of “Green” energy that goes into producing them? How about the cost of maintaing and keeping them clean? No, you can’t, or won’t. your argument is not justified. How about the operators choice? For now, I choose gas because I can get gas every few miles anywhere. The cost of the vehicles is less expensive. Can anybody tell me how long the batteries last? About five years! Do you know the cost of replacement? About $10,00. How about resale? It is non-existent. Until “Green” gets smart I will stay with what is afforbable and an investment. I will also continue to drive what I feel is not a lie I am well aware of my “Carbon Footprint” but for now “green” is not green but a lie to draw in purchasers of expensive vehicles that cost more drive fewer miles and in my opion are not capable of performing any of the tasks my daily life demands with the use of my truck

    • Breath on the Wind

      I can appreciate your concerns. The article discusses an environmental rational for Electric Vehicles. You raise an economic issue. Like most people you are watching what you have to lift out of your pocket. When we look at the large picture we are concerned about the unseen hole in the bottom of your pocket.

      I have previously run through the numbers to show that within 5 years you can recover the additional cost of an electric vehicle including the cost of batteries. But if your concern is only what you are paying at the time of purchase you will find yourself paying much more for operating a petrol vehicle over the long term. There is also a strategic issue. What will happen to your considerations in the likely event of a fuel shortage in the coming years.

      You have suggested “my statistics” are way overstated, but sadly you don’t give any suggestion of what you are looking at. I find your comments about maintenance of Wind Turbines interesting. If true it would suggest we are building them and they are producing electricity in some case cheaper than coal by creating money from thin air?

      I don’t favor Nuclear Power, but it is part of the present equation and the US is unlikely to shut them down as they have done in Japan, Germany and a few other countries. The comment in the article implies no more than what it says.

    • Leo Schwaiger

      Some taxis have gone 200,000 to 300,000 on original batteries. A 2001 Prius was traded for a new one and it had almost 716,000 miles on the original battery.

  • echosyst

    I wish we could get the EV issue out of the political arena. If people want to buy them, fine. Let them succeed or fail on their own merits and get government the hell out of it. This is getting boring and stupid. The market works.

    • Breath on the Wind

      I completely agree that this would be an ideal world. While we are eliminating subsidies for the EV we should eliminate all added funding for fossil fuels and let the chips fall where they may… But in practice people would scream and scream at the increased gas prices, at the increased fuel oil prices. They would demand to be taken care of and politicans always conscious of votes would like to appear as the savior.

      But don’t you think it would be at least fair to give a lump sum payment to the renewable industry at least equal to the trillions that fossil fuels have received over the last 100 years? Or perhaps “the market works” only when you don’t know that it has not ever been “working.”

  • wattleberry

    We need to add another ingredient into the mix; the polluting effect of the refining process which further skews the argument in favour of the EV.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/ Zachary Shahan

      yeah, that one always slips through the cracks, eh? :D

    • Breath on the Wind

      Thanks for pointing this out. Most accurately this is a “counter argument” and in the article I tried to show how the argument fails in its assumptions and conclusions.

      We could also mention that refiineries use electricity, lots of it. We could mention that when an EV is built its drivetrain has few moving parts compared to over 700 parts in the drivetrain of a petrol vehicle that adds up to a lot of increased transportation cost in manufacture of the vehicle. We could mention that petrol vehicles use oil lubricants and that each year there is enough improper disposal of drain oil to equal the BP Gulf oil spill….

  • Bedaterry

    The biggest point that should be made about “the long tailpipe” is that it is ONE source point that is more easily controlled than a million mobile points.

    • Breath on the Wind

      A good point and one of many that could be made in a longer article. This article is limited to labels and errors with assumptions and conclusions.

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