Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Are EVs good for the environment? - Mostly Not!

EVs Still Charged By Electricity From Fossil Fuel

The idea Electric vehicles are less damaging to the environment has been broadly accepted by many people as fact. The notion EVs are good for the planet is a key factor for many of those deciding to buy an electric car. This debate has become rather political with a recent article in Barron's pointing out that some of the research damning electric cars has been funded by Saudi oil interest. Part of the argument flowing out of this centers on the idea that policies incentivizing electric-car production will lead to the creation of more carbon emissions during coming years than if we were to instead encourage the use of efficient gasoline engines.

It is not surprising that people are going to try and shape conclusions and public opinion to serve their strategic interests. The direction society takes is a high-stakes game since the EU, Japan, Korea, and 110 other countries have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050. This is why countries such as China have extended $100 billion thus far in EV subsidies, the fact is China wants to make many of these vehicles. This is the main reason shares in Chinese EV manufacturers such as NIO and Xpeng have followed Tesla stock higher in recent months.

Adding to claims of agenda "propaganda" is the fact that a lengthy and detailed EV study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), published in the scientific journal “Nature Communications,” was paid for by oil giant Saudi Aramco, which counts China as its largest customer. This indicates how little transparency exists around private companies’ financial or other involvement in the U.S. Department of Energy’s research. Some analysts say that Aramco’s role in producing the research is a potential conflict of interest and that the relationship between Aramco and ORNL highlights a broader concern about how some companies fund scientific research only to directly support their business interests.  

As this article is being written those ready to curse my take on this issue are gathering in the wings. On one side we have those that think EVs are the solution, on the other is an even larger group ready to scream about freedom of choice or how climate change is a hoax. To the first group, I say you are being deceived by those conveniently forgetting that most electricity is still generated by fossil fuel and that EVs also have a few other issues. To the second group, my message is, self-indulgent, self-centered, people with the attitude the world is their oyster and the hell with everyone else. Some of these people are not even open to the idea that what humans do here on earth has any effect at all on our climate.

Gas-guzzlers Are Often Used As Family Cars
As a strong environmentalist, I get tired "of hearing that EVs are good for the environment. While my stand may rile those promoting EVs my attitude towards the four-door pickups driven by many average citizens angers and appalls many others. The fact is vehicle manufacturers maximize profits by prioritizing these big-ticket gas-guzzlers. These trucks are not used for work and should carry a heavy "poor mileage tax." All the high horsepower petroleum vehicles that fill our streets with engines able to get us from stoplight to stoplight in the blink of an eye and the huge low mile per gallon vehicles often occupied by one person are the bane of environmentalist.

As to whether EVs are as environmentally friendly as many people claim is a topic that is hotly debated. The chart near the top of this article screams that they are not. Electricity demand is still rising across the world, most nuclear plants getting very old, and the most ecologically friendly sources are running full out. This means the slack is being taken up by fossil-fuel generated plants. Under the idea of, last in first out, this would mean that almost all the juice being pumped into EVs comes from fossil-fuel generated juice. To make matters worse, other issues exist.

Below are a few comments, or parts of comments, about EVs that have been gathered from different recent articles. I have not fully researched all these but they do add to my doubts about these vehicles.

*The Greenwashing Industrial Complex is one of the evilest and fraudulent scams of the 21st century. As an example, the pollution and environmental destruction created by the manufacturing and disposal of EV batteries, and also the magnets for power-generating windmills, is 10X worse than pollution created by fossil-fuel vehicles.

*In Germany about 40% of the energy mix is produced by coal and 30% by renewables - a mid-sized electric car must be driven for 125,000 km, on average, to break even with a diesel car, and 60,000 km compared to a petrol car. It takes nine years for an electric car to be greener than a diesel car, assuming an annual average mileage of 13,500 km. Most consumers will have bought a new car by then. The case is similar in the U.S. but less pronounced in nuclear-powered France

*Battery production causes more environmental damage than carbon emissions alone. Consider dust, fumes, wastewater, and other environmental impacts from cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; water shortages and toxic spills from lithium mining in Latin America, which can alter ecosystems and hurt local communities; a heavily polluted river due to nickel mining in Russia; or air pollution in northeastern China, as mentioned above.

*There isn't enough cobalt in the world to replace even half of the current ICE vehicles.  Never mind the fact they have kids mining the stuff in the Congo. InsideSources, says, every EV battery contains cobalt, with most of it mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This area has been an ugly mess for years as the Congo government and armed militants duke it out over the control of mines. Much of the DRC cobalt is then hauled to South Africa and shipped to China for processing.

Also flowing into the issue of " less damaging to the environment" is something recently brought to my attention, and that is, EVs tend to rapidly eat through tires. While many people may not think this is a big deal, it is. Since electric car batteries are heavier than petrol engines they need a more robust tire. Also, because of their accelerating faster from a standstill. If you want to take advantage of that without too much wear then you need a more robust tire, these cost more, and it has been said, you are lucky if you get 20,000 miles out of a set of tires. All this is addressed at, https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-electric-cars-wear-out-tires-faster-than-fossil-fuel-cars

Pollution From Tires Is A Growing EV Issue

Like many people I had forgotten or brushed aside the thought something as simple and common as the tire was such a problem. This should have been high on my radar because years ago I was given a building simply because it had been filled with tires. The officials in my city were all over the owner to get rid of them. It cost me a bit of money and a lot of work to have them hauled away and properly recycled. With that in mind, below are a few of the many articles voicing pollution issues concerning tires.

Homeguides.sfgate.com claims; Toxins released from tire decomposition, incineration, or accidental fires can pollute the water, air, and soil. While 42 states regulate tire disposal to some degree, eight states have no restrictions on what you must do with your discarded tires. Even with laws in place, illegal dumping still occurs, presenting negative environmental impacts.

Tiretechnologyinternational.com states; Air pollution from tire wear particles can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car’s exhaust, Emissions Analytics found harmful particle matter from tires is a serious environmental problem. What is even more frightening is that while exhaust emissions have been tightly regulated for many years, tire wear is not. With the increasing growth in sales of heavier SUVs and battery-powered electric cars, non-exhaust emissions are a growing problem.

And, www.politico.eu/article/tires, delves into how driving affects the environment in ways beyond the well-known pollutants spewing from tailpipes and leaking from engines. Tires shed tiny pieces of plastic as they wear down, accounting for about 10 percent of the microscopic pieces of the pollutant found in the sea, according to one estimate. Tire waste was addressed in the European Commission's Plastics Strategy earlier this year. The EU executive is looking into how to cut down on microplastics that may be coming from tires and is considering regulations.

With all the above in mind, the buzz in EV trading over the last couple of weeks has interestingly been surrounding legacy automakers like General Motors and, even Ford moving strongly in the direction of manufacturing more EVs. This may someday be seen as a huge environmental misstep. The best answer may be a shift to more efficient gasoline engines in smaller vehicles.  

(Republishing of this article welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog)



14 comments:

  1. Great information - Thx!

    I do have one complaint/suggestion: you stated, "some of these people are not even open to the idea that what humans do here on earth has any effect at all on our climate".

    Humans have an impact on pollution, but pollution has little to do with the climate cycles, which have existed (often with more extreme peaks and valley's) long before the discovery of oil and the internal combustion engine.

    I would be happy to provide the historical evidence that shows our planet has been much warmer and colder, and CO2 levels higher prior to 1900. BTW, I'm sure you are aware that CO2 makes up only 0.04% of our atmosphere, and there is a reason the wealthiest countries have cleaner environments than impoverished countries, which would increase if energy becomes more expensive, as supporters of the Green New Deal envision, which includes the supporters of the Great Reset/4th Industrial Revolution/Build Back Better Utopian's (Gates, Soros, Schwab).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whether EVs are marginally better, worse, or similar, the big issue for me is the belief that we can transition seamlessly to fossil fuel alternatives and for the most part maintain our complexities and energy-intensive society. I believe this is nonsense. The most helpful unit of energy in addressing our dilemmas is the one not used. Society needs to be reconfigured in a significant way that abandons most of our technology (including most transportation). Local, small, and simple is the way to go. All other arguments seem to me to be comforting narratives to reduce our cognitive dissonance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Local, small, and simple is the way to go."

      You're probably right. However, this sounds like the kind of realization a civilization has only after it's too late.

      Delete
    2. When both of you mention "simple" I agree. This includes being easier to work on and more interchangeable parts. Also, it would be great if more components could be rebuilt.
      Many people seem to have forgotten a vehicle is mainly for transportation rather than an extension of their personality.

      Delete
  3. Your analysis of pollution caused by increased tire wear common with EVs is interesting and relevant. You should have made this the focus of your article and quit while you were ahead. Other areas your article is filled with mistakes and inaccuracies.

    You reference: "Electricity demand is still rising across the world, most nuclear plants getting very old, and the most ecologically friendly sources are running full out. This means the slack is being taken up by fossil-fuel generated plants. Under the idea of, last in first out, this would mean that almost all the juice being pumped into EVs comes from fossil-fuel generated juice."

    Except you are fundamentally wrong and you betray your ignorance of how electricity is generated. Electricity generation can be divided into three categories: Base Load, Intermediate Load and Peak Load. Base Load, the cheapest, most efficient and cleanest forms of electricity, requires a constant load. Typically electricity demand is higher during the day and lower during the night so the minimum power used during the night becomes the maximum Base Load. Electric power plants actively incentivize customers to use more electricity at night because by doing so increases their Base Load and lowers the cost of the electricity they supply to customers during the day.

    Electric Vehicles are typically charged during the night. Yes, there may be some topping off during daytime hours, but the majority of electric vehicles get charged during the night. This ends up increasing the clean, cheap energy used to power the Base Load which ends up cleaning the environment.

    Also, electric motors are far more efficient (>90%) than gasoline engines (30% to 35%) and Base Load power plants - even coal fired Base Load power plants - are highly efficient (64%). Natural gas power plants are far less efficient at only 42.5%. EV haters who love to say "EVs that are powered by coal pollute the environment more than gasoline cars" are wrong: Base Load coal powered EVs are 75% more efficient (75% less carbon dioxide) than gasoline powered vehicles. Do the math: 90% x 64% ÷ 33% = 175%.

    You state "pollution and environmental destruction created by the manufacturing and disposal of EV batteries, and also the magnets for power-generating windmills, is 10X worse than pollution created by fossil-fuel vehicles." Show us your math. Where do you get those numbers? Tesla has designed their lithium-ion battery production to include the recycling of used batteries, recycling Lithium and Cobalt used in their batteries.

    You write "There isn't enough cobalt in the world to replace even half of the current ICE vehicles." Except again, you are mistaken: over the years Tesla has reduced the amount of Cobalt used in each vehicle and four months ago Tesla announced they would shift battery production to a zero Cobalt battery chemistry. A single EV uses around 10kg of Lithium, while known 2020 reserves of Lithium are estimated at 80,000,000,000 kg - enough Lithium to produce 8 Billion cars: 5.7X the number of cars in the world today.

    I agree electric vehicles are not the panacea that green fanatics make them out to be. Electric vehicles will never be practical in many applications - particularly for long distance, wilderness, desert and extended cold weather conditions. The notion that electric will replace gasoline entirely is naive and irresponsible, but in today's world is the politically correct position to take.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your comment, I'm very busy at the moment. A response will be posted in the next day or so. I contend you have erred on several accounts.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Drilling down on your numbers regarding weight: they just don't agree with your mantra:

    Tesla Model 3 Specs:

    Wheelbase 113.2 in (2,875 mm)
    Length 184.8 in (4,694 mm)
    Width 72.8 in (1,849 mm)
    Height 56.8 in (1,443 mm)
    Curb Weight Long Range RWD: 3,814 lb (1,730 kg)

    BMW 330 Specs:

    Wheelbase 112.2 in (2,851 mm)
    Length 185.4 in (4,709 mm)
    Width 71.9 in (1,827 mm)
    Height 56.8 in (1,442 mm)
    Curb Weight 3,763 lb (1,707 kg)

    Same size car, a fully charged Tesla will weigh LESS than the BMW 330 with a full tank of gas.

    Here is an article that explains Base Load vs. Peak Load power:

    https://www.wind-watch.org/faq-electricity.php

    Base Load power is the cheapest and most efficient but takes days to increase or decrease. Intermediate Power is more expensive but can be increased or decreased faster. Peak power is the most expensive, sometimes costing 3X what the power company will charge the customer, but it can be brought online instantly.

    Often a Base Load power plant will operate as a Load Following Power Plant and burn 150% of the fuel required to produce Base Load power, wasting 1/3 of the fuel used to generate power at night, and then the additional 50% of Base Load power will be brought on during the day to provide Intermediate Load power. If Intermediate Load power is only required 12 hours of the day then it costs DOUBLE Base Load power because the fuel to generate Intermediate Load power must be burned 24 hours a day even though power is only used 12 hours a day.

    The general premise is if electric cars can increase the Base Load (during the night) then more expensive Intermediate Load power is replaced by Base Load power and the overall cost of electricity is lowered while the efficiency of electricity is increased.

    My number for base load coal efficiency was incorrect: it should be a maximum of 42% (not 64%) resulting in a 15% efficiency advantage for a coal fired Base Load electric powered EV compared with a gasoline engine automobile. The reality is in the USA less than 24% of electricity is coal fired - most electricity is a mix - but charging your EV at night will always improve the efficiency of the electric grid and reduce overall emissions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As noted above, I'm rather busy right now, so here is the short of it.

      The Mazda 3 we have weighs in at 2799, which is far less than the Model 3. EVs generally weigh more and do eat tires. It is a combination of weight and the way they accelerate.

      Second, while many people are not aware of "peak load" because I own several commercial buildings it is something that flows into my electrical bills. The category of my billing is based on the highest point of use during the month.

      The sad truth is that not all EVs are only charged at night, they would be in a perfect world, but the world and people are far from perfect. Any charging during the day or during peak times explodes the high end of what electric companies must be able to provide.

      The demand for electricity in the future will remain high and most likely grow. Currently, and in the near future, much of it will still come from fossil-fuel.

      Delete
    2. Sorry, but your article is factually inaccurate and filled with half-truths. Your inaccurate article is part of the problem, not part of the solution. You substitute your opinions for actual data. You spout off ideas without ANY research like "sad truth is that not all EVs are only charged at night". Where are your statistics about when people charge their EVs or what percentage of EVs are charged during the day? EIGHTY PERCENT of EVs are charged at night.

      You still don't get it: the point is not that EVs charging during the day increase Peak Load power, the point is that EVs charging at night (when 80% of EVs charge) increase Base Load power, which is always the cheapest and cleanest power and which decreases Intermediate power demands.

      You claim that when fossil fuels are used to generate electricity to charge electric vehicles the EVs will pollute more than gasoline powered cars but you are just plain WRONG and the science shows you are wrong.

      When faced with the same weight for a BMW and a Tesla you bring up Mazda. Your Mazda 3 could never compete with the performance of a BMW 3 series or a Tesla Model 3. Please explain how / why the Tesla eats through tires faster than a BMW 330. Honestly I'd like to know.

      You talk about losses in the delivery of electricity? How about comparing those losses to the losses experienced delivering crude oil from the oil field to the refinery to the tanker truck to the gasoline station to the car. Do you honestly think the cost of delivery of electricity is even in the ballpark of the cost of delivery of gasoline? Disappointing.

      Delete
    3. I seriously doubt many people drive to a charging station in the middle of the night so they can save the world by using base electricity. I also think the person buying an Ev is more likely moving from a high MPG vehicle than a gas-guzzler which again lessens the impact of their decision. As for the "tire thing" please visit the following link. https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-electric-cars-wear-out-tires-faster-than-fossil-fuel-cars

      In situations like this, I generally think it best we agree to disagree. We are looking at opinions that we both have arrived at using data and such that we feel are valid.

      Delete
  6. An article about how society could make better use of the electricity we generate will hopefully be ready in the next few weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Never mind the losses in the power lines as the electricity to charge EV's transits from power plant to charger. The "green" aspect of EV's is bogus... and I own one... For me it is an economic decision. It's cheaper to charge my car and drive it to and from work than it is to drive a gas-powered car. Still, I have an ICE car as well. I see EV's as a covert way of limiting how far a person can travel, if necessary. Shut off the charging stations, and you're dead in the water. Try doing that with an ICE vehicle...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peteforester, thanks for mentioning the loss as electricity moves through the power lines. This is an important factor that I failed to bring up in the article.

      Delete
  8. Here's an article that tends to side with the author

    https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/02/the_battery_fairy_and_other_delusions_in_the_demand_to_replace_gasoline_powered_vehicles_with_electric_cars_and_trucks.html

    ReplyDelete