Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro52
A Gallon Of Tar Sands Oil Can Send An EV Over 30 Miles
August 18th, 2014 by Christopher DeMorro
The Alberta tar sands are an all-around environmental disaster, though its defenders will claim that the energy wrung out of the ground is worth it. A new report published over at Hybrid Cars, however, reveals that the energy it takes to produce just one gallon of gasoline from the Canadian tar sands could propel an electric car or plug-in hybrid for more than 30 miles.
I’ll readily admit that math isn’t my strong point, and as with any report or study on energy consumption, the Devil is in the details; some refineries are more or less efficient, closer or farther to the tar sands themselves, so on and so forth.
But as a whole, the logic is fairly simple; digging up the tar sands and then separating the oil from everything else is an energy intensive process, each 42-gallon barrel of oil (of which only about half is actually converted into motor-grade gasoline) requires about 301 kWh of electricity to produce. A generous estimation puts the total amount of refined petrol at about 23.4 gallons from each barrel, which places the electricity cost of each barrel of oil at about 12.86 kWh (13 if you want to just round it up).
13 kWh of electric per gallon of gas from the tar sands? That’s a lot of wasted electricity turned into even more carbon emissions. But, if instead that energy were pumped into a plug-in car like the Chevy Volt, you could drive about 37 miles without burning a gallon of gas. The Nissan LEAF could go 38 miles, and the Tesla Model S about 34 miles on the same amount of electricity. Meanwhile, the average new car fuel economy hovers just about 25 MPG (rather than the 23 MPG quoted in the report), or about 30% less driving range.
The Alberta tar sands only make financial sense if oil prices continue to rise, and the energy industry is instead seeing demand drop and prices stabilize. This means ventures like the tar sands could become money-losers, especially if more and more consumers make the switch to plug-in cars. That’s good news for those of us who put the planet before corporate profits.
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