Thanks to Climate Progress, I now know how our Chevy Volt stacks up against fully gasoline powered cars when it is running on electric power -- which it does most of the time, since we're getting at least forty miles per charge and we rarely drive further than that.
It turns out that even with electricity being partially generated by fossil fuel sources, here in the western part of the United States a gas car would need to get 73 mpg (which none do) to equal the emissions resulting from an electric car powered on the grid. The situation will be even better in 2025, 97 mpg, when more electricity will come from renewable sources.
Admittedly, areas in the mid-west which rely on coal-fired electricity generation produce electric car equivalencies only in the 35 mpg range. Meaning, global warming emissions are nearly as high as a gasoline powered car.
But here in Oregon, us electric car owners can ignore the oft-heard claim that driving around on electricity is just as polluting to the environment as driving around on gasoline. Not true.
Facts are a marvelous thing.
That's wonderful news about e-cars but people still won't buy them. E-cars come around every 20 years or so and they always fade away again. People seem to like them, but they refuse to buy them. Just look at the Volt and the Nissan Leaf, they have sold about 20k units combined. Most have been sold to corporations for prpmotional purposes, almost none to the general public. In comparison, the lowly Chevy Cruse has sold 250k units alone during the same timeframe. People like e-cars but they don't actually buy them.
Posted by: klem | August 21, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Efficiency is measured by the amount of work that can be done with a given quantity of energy, roughly speaking. An incandescent light bulb produces far more heat than it does light, so it is designated as a fairly inefficient device. Let's call heat the "energy debt" that must always be paid. Fluorescent tubes are far more efficient than incandescent light bulbs, producing more light than heat for a given electrical current input. However, the cost of producing and powering a fluorescent tube is much higher, and the thermodynamic energy debt (so to speak) has already been accounted for in the differential between the manufacturing processes used to build incandescent light bulbs and fluorescent tubes.
The same analogy can be used with acceptable validity when you consider the manufacturing processes involved in building an electric vehicle and a purely ICE-powered vehicle. There is a reason why EV's are more expensive than ICE vehicles: it takes more energy to build them. And, it is chiefly due to the batteries, which come into existence following labor-intensive mining and refining of rare elements. The mining and refining processes require vast amounts of energy, all derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. And all this effort is purposed toward producing devices that have ever-increasing efficiency.
Solar panels and wind turbines need to be manufactured, and the energy to manufacture them will be derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. Same with water-impelled turbines used in hydroelectric power facilities.
EV's are a step forward in terms of efficiency, but progress in the way of mitigation of global warming effects will require the cessation of the burning of great amounts of fossil fuels. When we stop burning fossil fuels, nothing will get done. Get the picture?
Posted by: Willie R | August 21, 2012 at 07:41 PM