Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Green is Your Car?

A pedestrian is someone who thought there were a couple of gallons left in the tank.
- Unknown
HotAir.com has a great article titled, Electric cars not so green after all?

It's wonderful to say you're saving the environment by not burning oil, BUT are you aware of the impact of the technology and resources that went into making an electric car? A new study by the British Government examined the full lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal.
An electric car owner would have to drive at least 129,000km (80,000mi) before producing a net saving in CO2. Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they typically have a range of less than 145km (90mi) on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips. Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.  ...  Emissions from manufacturing electric cars are at least 50 per cent higher because batteries are made from materials such as lithium, copper and refined silicon, which require much energy to be processed. Many electric cars are expected to need a replacement battery after a few years. Once the emissions from producing the second battery are added in, the total CO2 from producing an electric car rises to 12.6 tonnes, compared with 5.6 tonnes for a petrol car. Disposal also produces double the emissions because of the energy consumed in recovering and recycling metals in the battery. The study also took into account carbon emitted to generate the grid electricity consumed.
Here are some other items to consider.

Where will we store all of the dead batteries that are discarded?

What is the impact of mining the Lithium needed for the batteries? Why is it bad to drill for oil or coal but OK to mine for Lithium?

Bottom Line

I read a wonderful comment the other day in which a father objected to the phrase, "Americans are addicted to oil." Nonsense, he replied. I'm addicted to driving my son to school and to soccer games. He did not care if the car ran on oil or cow piss. It's a good thing that we are finally seeing realistic alternatives to burning oil in hundreds of millions of cars. Just don't blindly assume that electric is "cleaner". Where is that electricity coming from to power the car?

I wonder which is more efficient? Turning oil into gasoline, transporting it and then burning it in a car? Or turning oil into electricity, transmitting the energy over power lines, storing the energy in batteries, and using that to power a car? I would not be surprised if it required MORE energy overall to run electric cars.

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