While it is true that burning coal (to produce electricity) and distributing that energy produces a little more CO2 than the burning of conventional gas (ignoring the losses of refining and distribution) *per BTU*, it is a mistake to not also mention that an electric motor is *vastly* more efficient than *any* gasoline engine. That's why the MPGe ratings of electric cars are so high, and are even double those of similarly-sized cars with nice turbodiesel engines (VW TDI, etc).
Yes, government research dollars could be spent researching all sorts of alternatives, even those odd synfuels that were interesting so many years ago. Reagan put a stop to that about as quickly as he tore Carter's solar panels off of the roof of the White House, and we never got back at it. Sadly, many synfuels do not address the CO2 issue.
Oh, regarding Ron's comment, Time-Of-Use (TOU) metering and the resultant incentives from electric utilities can strongly encourage those with electric cars to charge them during off-peak hours, reducing or even nearly eliminating the need for additional transmission and distribution facilities. Yet another "reason to be" for the smart grid.
There will be no infrastucture/renewables installed without demand. In America, that translates to promises of utility revenue. There will be no EV without energy supply. In America, that translates to promises of automaker revenue. One must come before the other. Sadly, without a glut of power, the demand side must be forced (or stated as a toothless "vision"). Had the Obama Adminstration had any sense, they'd sanction and pay for the building 1TW of distributed nuke plants instead of paving perfectly good roads and bombing people in tents.
That family trips three weekends a year to the ski hill is why Americans sit in traffic the other 340 days a year with their 12MPG 4WD Excursions. The reality is that most American daily trips are 35 miles or less. There's always an "if" and "but" as far as not enough range. Like you are too stupid to plan for it and take the Excursion that one day?
Hydrogen storage in homes? Hydrogen in cars everywhere? There are pretty serious risks associated with storing a high pressure explosive gas. As my handle implies, I served on a submarine. We generated our own oxygen from water using electrolysis. This also produces hydrogen. The nickname for the machine that produced the oxygen and hydrogen was "the bomb", with good reason. It required very careful and constant management from highly trained operators. I find it pretty fanciful to picture an average (or any!) home with a hydrogen generator, cranking out the hydrogen from the excess solar electricity. Factor in the risks of handling hydrogen and managing it in vehicles...and Ralph Nader can start producing "Unsafe at any speed, the Ford Hindenburg."
Gasoline is also certainly flammable and dangerous, but it is generally not stored under pressure and requires vaporization to explode.
It has made the informed think it over and we have come to the conclusion that it is our best energy technology. The Fukushima reactors ALL survived a 9.0 earthquake and were indeed successfully shut down. The idiot who put the backup diesel generator fuel tanks near sea level, to be washed away by a tidal wave whose name comes from the Japanese word for it, was the problem - no cooling of hot fuel, even in the spent fuel bays. You people need to stop regurgitating the spoon feed from Big Coal and look into the facts for yourself.
Classical ameican shortsightedness. What is, shall be. Coal WILL BE offset by zero Co2 for solar, wind, and nuke. Your Ford Excursion spews the same. Hydrogen was a joke put forward by Bush - his Texas buddies were sitting on a glut of natural gas they couldn't get rid of due to stable demand (H2 is made industrially from natural gas). Alexander Graham Bell was told there wasn't a hope in hell the phone would ever succeed. "No infrastructure...."
I went back and checked Nissan's website. They sold 298 Leaf's in March. Really on a roll there, more than 4x the February sales. I think we've turned a corner on EV, and the public really does want expensive cars that only go 40 miles.
The public is snapping up EV's almost as fast as they can produce them. There were 87 Nissan Leaf sales in January in North America, and then 67 in February! That is not a typo or order of magnitude error, I double-checked my math...
Seems unlikely the Japan earthquake has anything to do with the fact that hardly anyone in the US wants to buy an EV. It is not a supply problem here. The government simply needs to mandate that everyone buy an EV, and we will have our Sputnik victory.
Frank Eory -
I'll start with just one basic question: Why are you accounting for all the upstream emissions of an EV and NONE of the upstream emissions of a gas car? You do realize what a hugely polluting process it is to create and distribute gasoline, yes? Do you realize how much *electricity* is used in the production of gasoline? Gas doesn't magically appear in the tank. It is a filthy, destructive process. And that's before it is even burned in a car!
After we deal with that issue, we'll move onto the fact that my EV doesn't use any coal power, and instead uses sunshine. I make my electricity on the roof of my garage.
I have much more after that, but that can get us started in the right direction.
If we're going to compare pollution from various automobiles, let's not be selective. At least not if you want to make a valid point. This very thing has been studied to death. And the short answer is that your math is still wrong. Well, the math is right - just that the assumptions are wrong.