April 3, 2013

See, the battery...

In his article Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret, Bjorn Lomberg writes the following...
For proponents such as the actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, the main argument is that their electric cars [...] don't contribute to global warming. And, sure, electric cars don't emit carbon-dioxide on the road. But the energy used for their manufacture and continual battery charges certainly does—far more than most people realize.

The mining of lithium, for instance, is a less than green activity. By contrast, the manufacture of a gas-powered car accounts for 17% of its lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When an electric car rolls off the production line, it has already been responsible for 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The amount for making a conventional car: 14,000 pounds.

While electric-car owners may cruise around feeling virtuous, they still recharge using electricity overwhelmingly produced with fossil fuels. Thus, the life-cycle analysis shows that for every mile driven, the average electric car indirectly emits about six ounces of carbon-dioxide. This is still a lot better than a similar-size conventional car, which emits about 12 ounces per mile. But remember, the production of the electric car has already resulted in sizeable emissions—the equivalent of 80,000 miles of travel in the vehicle.

So unless the electric car is driven a lot, it will never get ahead environmentally
Reducing our energy usage is problematic because many of the ways that we reduce that energy usage - solar cells, windmills, mag-lev trains, dams - use the energy on the front end to produce it.

I'm coming to think that the only way we can eliminate our damage to the planet is to stop existing.


coldnorthgamer said...

80,000 miles isn't very much. Maybe it's changed, but I remember the average annual mileage of most users is 15,000. If you drive your car for longer than 5 years, then his basic math makes for a net benefit to the environment. I'm sure there are many other factors to consider, but his premise doesn't hold up.

PHSChemGuy said...

Gamer - It still depends on how the electricity for the electric car in generated. If it's all solar energy, then the electric car catches up more quickly. If the electricity is coal generated, it's going to take way longer to catch up. The big thing to me is that it takes 80,000 miles for the electric car to catch up because of the energy in the lithium batteries.

Plus there's the fact that driving that many miles with the electric car is going to be tough because of the shorter range. No more driving twelve hours a day on vacation.