Frank said: hybrids do not add to the load on the electric power grid, and EVs do. (end quote)
In fact this is incorrect. Not only do oil refineries generate gobs of their own electricity, they are counted among the largest consumers of grid power. It takes LOTS of electricity to make gasoline. Don't keep fooling yourself into thinking that gasoline has insignificant upstream baggage. If we took all of our refineries off line now, but got to keep all the electricity that was used for those refineries - we could power our entire fleet with that input power alone - without burning the resulting gasoline.
Just because we've always done it this way doesn't mean it is the best way.
I just showed you that your own numbers suggest that the Volt emits less CO2 in electric mode than in gasoline mode, even for the worst-case scenario when the electricity come 100% from coal-fired power plants. So I fail to see how you rationally can validate your opinion (to wait).
Besides that, the real argument in this blog post relates to the role of EVs and PHEVs in reducing the dependance of our economy on foreign oil and the volatility in oil prices.
Surely we can all individually choose to buy or not to buy a PHEV.
But for the nation in general your statement in general of "not today, and not by 2015" does not seem to have much rational motivation when looking at the arguments.
(quote)Efficient choices are best rooted in economics, not ideology and government regulation. It's not about can do or can't do, its about making the right choices. If EV turns out to be the right economic choice, then let it stand on its own in the marketplace. (quote)
Oh, we agree! However, you are missing a large part of the puzzle. If money is what talks... let's talk money!
Oil is subsidized massively. Our tax incentives given to the oil industry total over $80 billion per year. A RAND Corp. study concluded we spend a further $75 billion for military costs protecting our access to oil. Those who buy gas pay nothing at the pump for any of these things. We ALL pay for them through deficit spending and taxes.
Further, the economic hit we take because of oil is enormous. When you buy gas, 90% of your money leaves your state. A full 60% leaves the country. The country loses about 2 billion dollars every day!
So yeah... if we want a level playing field, we need to start with actually paying for the cost of oil up front. I fully agree we should take away incentives. If you were paying $10 per gallon at the pump instead of taking advantage of the oil socialization, would your outlook be different?
(quote) "as the grid gets cleaner, EV's get cleaner" - but what timeframe are we thinking of? It will take many decades (at today's pace) to have the majority of the grid powered by renewables (end quote)
The part I don't get is the idea that we should wait on EVs until the grid is perfectly clean. It will take what? 20 years to turn over the automobile fleet at the quickest? If we wait a couple of decades before we start perfecting EVs, then we keep trying to play catch up forever. Why not advance on both fronts now while we have the cheap energy to do so?
Yes, EVs are not as squeaky clean as we'd like them to be (well, mine are but we'll pretend that they'll all be charged from the grid). But we don't need to wait to deploy them until everything is perfect. The perfect is the enemy of the good in this case. EVs today have many benefits over ICE vehicles... and those benefits will grow as oil gets more scarce, as it gets more expensive, and as it gets more energy-intensive and polluting to pull out of the ground. If we keep depending on oil, we keep destroying our economy, and we are dependent on other nations for our way of life.
Though we disagree on some points - thanks for the civil discussion. Somewhat refreshing!
As I have had solar power for nine years, and an EV as our main vehicle for over ten, I am intimately familiar with the power requirements of house and car... and how they relate. You are in the ballpark for sure. For my situation, it is about 1:1 with 10,000 miles of EV driving per year. Other homes in my area waste more energy than they would need to power their cars, so their homes would use 2-3 times more energy than their car would. (And please note that this is an important part of the puzzle - we truly do waste more energy in our homes than a 10k miles/year EV would consume. Conservation is mostly free... but we don't do it. We don't do it because energy is cheap, and we really don't care about anything until it hurts us - financially or otherwise. This is the same reason we're happy to commute solo in SUVs.)
One thing to consider (that obviously can and will never happen) is that if we suddenly switched every passenger car in the country over to EV tonight, and we got rid of the gasoline infrastructure that wasn't needed, and added the grid infrastructure that we *would* need - that tomorrow our country would use significantly less energy than it is using today. And the reason is because of how much energy we put into making gasoline. An energy input that is overlooked far too often. If we took just the energy that is put into making a gallon of gasoline, and instead used that energy to charge a car's battery - that car would be able to travel about 20 miles (more if we include the energy our military uses to protect our oil rights). 20 miles without having to pollute by *burning* that gallon of gas. But we're here today where we stand. And we need to fix it. We only disagree a bit on how to fix it.
Range reported by the EPA (at least via what wikipedia says) is 73 miles, so I stand corrected on the 40 mile range.
My SUV has a ~$70 battery as opposed to a ~$10,000 battery pack of an EV. My experience is that batteries wear out over charge-discharge cycles. This will be a hefty maintenance cost unlike any cost on a gasoline vehicle. You can factor that in the depreciation, as it will affect the resale value.
My current SUV depreciates at ~$1500/year. Add in the extra gas I spend vs a car with twice the gas mileasge and we are equal, and that equation gets worse if you pull out the $5-$10k government subsidy/credit on purchase. I'm not implying depreciation doesn't matter, I am saying that gas savings is often offset completely by the upfront cost/depreciation of buying a pricey hybrid or EV.
Efficient choices are best rooted in economics, not ideology and government regulation. It's not about can do or can't do, its about making the right choices. If EV turns out to be the right economic choice, then let it stand on its own in the marketplace.
Now, to throw in a curveball - if we were to deploy only solar panels and wind turbines - we come to a point (at say, 30%-40% of grid total power) that we cannot use more without energy storage, because these sources are so variable and the grid needs to be perfectly reliable. The grid needs to stable "backbone". So (a friendly challenge for us engineers) we need to come up with large-scale, cost-effective energy storage before a green grid can be fully deployed. Solar thermal seems currently the best match, but solar-synthesized fuels would also work (and maybe can be run as a substitute in natural-gas fired power plants). Some people also think that everyone's EV batteries, with a "smartgrid" control system might be a way to do this too (I'm skeptical of this one due to costs and practical issues). Anyway - these are the BIG challenges of our generation, and unfortunately while there is progress - the US Government is not promoting the right things to get us there as quickly as possible. Green the Grid now, EV's (maybe) later...
darell - I fully agree with your sentiment - but to be fair: coal and natural gas don't just appear at the power station either! The most valid analysis would include all upstream stuff - but this adds huge murkiness and complexity and (from my reading) the results change something like +/-20%. I'm attempting to look at the bigger picture and longer term. I 100% agree with your statement that "as the grid gets cleaner, EV's get cleaner" - but what timeframe are we thinking of? It will take many decades (at today's pace) to have the majority of the grid powered by renewables...esp. if nuclear power gets nixed due to current events (I'm not in favor of nukes anyway). You are 100% on-the-mark with your "lifestyle" comments. "Negawatts" (efficiency improvements by behavior & lifestyle changes) such as carpooling, mass transit, better home insulation, efficient lighting, etc.) are the quickest and easiest way to "green" the grid. The reason that cars get so much focus is twofold: A) The amount of energy used is large. If one takes their monthly home KWh usage, multiply by 2x or 3x to get the fuel energy used (power plant eff =33% to 50%). Compare this to the number of gallons of gas one's car burns per month times 34 KWh, and I think most people will find that their car's energy usage is between 1X and 3X of their home's energy usage. note: I have not researched this comparison in detail. B) cars burn oil, which is definitely problematic and getting more rare and expensive than coal and natural gas. However I think we would agree that the best course is to get off of fossil fuels altogether, and green the grid.
If you take the Leaf's EPA 99 MPGe (based on KWh out of the plug) and adjust for avg grid efficiency - 99 x 35%-50% (depending on assumptions) = 35-48MPGe, you can see that the energy used is about the same as a prius or VW TDI. No free lunch
Should we not take the average "gasoline distribution inefficiencies" into account when we speak of the gas cars then? I can never figure out why people are so quick to assume that gasoline just magically appears in the gas tank, but we need to climb way up stream to figure out how electricity gets into the batteries.
And as for powering the grid with solar (as I do, to offset all of my house's usage as well as my EV's usage) - why are we so concerned with how much electricity is used in our cars while we give our homes with AC units, pools, extra feezers, etc a free ride?
Fact of the matter is - as the grid gets ever cleaner, then EVs get cleaner as they age. As a gasoline car ages, it gets dirtier
To the guy who charges his Volt from solar panels - kudos!
However, please be clear that the "green benefits" would occur whether or not you have the Volt. The grid would still receive your solar-generated electricity regardless. So...again my point is that powering the grid with renewable sources is what is most important at the moment - and EV's do little (today) to help the situation, except to shift fuels from oil to Coal+NG.