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      01-13-2009, 11:48 PM   #23
Nixon
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Originally Posted by C Africa View Post
I find this hilarious. Electricity is produced by burning coal (80%, no new Nuclear power plants have come on line in about 25 years). So all you do by changing to electric cars is move the pollution out of town. It still contributes to global warming though. After factoring in the transmission losses, inefficiency of charging a battery, etc. etc. You're not really saving the planet, are you?
Five problems with your argument.

1) Gas burning engines are very inefficient. Less then 25% efficient on average. Electric motors can be 90%+ efficient. Burning fossil fuels at power plants (even when burning coal) and charging electric cars is still MORE energy efficient, and still puts out LESS polution than a gas engine. That is even AFTER transmission and charging losses.

The act of pouring gas in a fuel tank and burning it in an ~25% efficient engine is a bigger source of energy inefficiency than ALL of the energy losses involved in powering an electric car from a power plant.

2) Moving polution outside of major population centers is a VERY GOOD THING in of itself. The health benefits and health savings alone would justify the switch to electric passenger vehicles. Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars that automobile polution costs the US healthcare system? How much automobile polution has shortened lives?

3) Your 80% figure for coal production is way off. Coal provides less than half of the total US electricity production. from the latest DOE (Dept of Energy) report. The DOE says this:

"Coal-fired plants contributed 48.3 percent of the Nation’s electric power, year-to-date. Nuclear plants contributed 19.3 percent, while 21.5 percent was generated at natural gas-fired plants."

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electri...m/epm_sum.html

4) There are multiple ways to make your electric car nearly coal and fossil-fuel free. In some places it can be as simple as signing up for WindSource, and your electric car (and your entire house) can be powered by 100% Wind Power. Or you can install solar cells on your home to put the same amount of energy into the grid as you use to charge your car each night. Or you can do the same with your own wind generator.

You can't do that with a vehicle with a gas engine.

5) Even if the electricity is generated from US coal, or US/Canadian natural gas, or US nuclear, or US Hyrdo/Wind/Solar sources, the key is that we are N O T helping fund our enemies abroad running our cars on US generated electric power, unlike burning gas. Just this alone would justify the switch to electric passenger vehicles!


I'm sure you just wanted to get a snide comment in without really thinking it all through, but your argument is so old that it's own grand-kids don't even visit it in the retirement home anymore. It has already been widely debunked.

Last edited by Nixon; 08-10-2009 at 04:11 PM.
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      01-14-2009, 09:36 AM   #24
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Right on Nixon! 100% correct.

I'll add one more thought.

From a technical point of view, there are viable clean alternatives to coal for electricity produciton. Some of them are still too expensive for mass consumption, but they are there, and are becoming closer and closer to "grid parity" every year.


I think the solution in the future for many households will be one full electric vehicle, and one plug in hybrid. That will move a significant portion of the daily running around over to electric, but still give the family unlimited range without charging for vacations and road trips and such.
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      01-14-2009, 03:22 PM   #25
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Right on Nixon! 100% correct.

I'll add one more thought.

From a technical point of view, there are viable clean alternatives to coal for electricity produciton. Some of them are still too expensive for mass consumption, but they are there, and are becoming closer and closer to "grid parity" every year.


I think the solution in the future for many households will be one full electric vehicle, and one plug in hybrid. That will move a significant portion of the daily running around over to electric, but still give the family unlimited range without charging for vacations and road trips and such.
Thanks for the post, you are right that electric cars do have the unique advantage of getting greener each time a power plant is made greener. So if a single coal-fired plant that provides electricity to 50,000 homes is upgraded to make it cleaner, or replaced, then every electric car that was charged by that power plant instantly becomes cleaner. You can centralized your efforts to clean up a few thousand power plants, instead of having to address millions of individual vehicles. And your clean-up efforts have immediate results for the electric cars already out there.

With a gas or diesel vehicle, you have to wait until the vehicle is replaced by a new vehicle with cleaner emissions in order to cut pollution/consumption. That means waiting until the old cars flush through all of their used vehicle owners. That can take decades.



As for predicting what people will own in the future, I don't know what will happen. There are too many IF's. There might not be any battery-powered electric cars some time in the future. They could all be capacitor-powered electric cars instead. There are companies working on that, who promise capacitors that can charge in roughly the same time it currently takes to fill up a gas tank. I just can't clearly see what the future of electric vehicles will be any further out than a month or two.

We know that BMW will be leasing out 1000 electric Mini's.
We know that Tesla will be delivering more Roadsters
We know that there are a number of slow-speed NEV's that will be delivered

Beyond that, it truly is anybody's guess as to what cars will actually make it to market, and what people will buy in the future.
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      01-15-2009, 11:38 AM   #26
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The choices are very complicated, and I happily drive one of those gas guzzling 128's, but can we please not indulge in global warming denial. The science is in, and it's overwhelming. The only deniers are those bought and paid for by the oil lobbies. It just gets so tiresome.

The comment from BMW is typical of someone who has a lot to lose by going green (at least in the short term). It doesn't mean it's anything other than a throw away line.
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      01-16-2009, 05:51 AM   #27
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You don't need electric cars to get moving on "cleaning up" electricity generation, but it is not happening. Sorry Nixon, I am still not convinced. Couple of points on your replies:

* If I add your gas and coal statistics together, I get over 70% that are generated by burning fossil fuels. USA is one of the countries with the highest level of alternative sources so on a worldwide basis, my 80% is probably still accurate.
* As to energy efficiency, once you've factored in electric motor efficiency, plus battery charge efficiency, plus distribution losses plus efficiency of generating e with fossil fuels, you're probably down to less than 50% efficiency. Now compare that to the highly efficient new models of diesel engines (say an 800cc engine with comparable performance to an electric car).
* I agree with you 100% that bigger advances can be made in Power generation, one coal fired plant generates the same hothouse gasses as many thousands of gas vehicles. But what you'll do if you switch cars to "electric", you'll increase total electricity demand (meaning more power stations, which have a life of 50 years, not 5 years like a car) meaning you are perpetuating the "wrong" approach more than continuing to build gas cars. Also, you'll need to upgrade the whole distribution network to be able to handle massive additional demand you're going to place on the power grid.
* Once you are at the point where all new power generation plants will only be built with "green" technologies, THEN the electric alternative for cars becomes an option.

I just feel that the focus for all these years has been on the wrong section of the fossil fuel users. Much bigger advances could have been made in power generation if the same amount of research went into it as goes into building alternative energy cars.

Thanks for an interesting debate nevertheless.
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      01-16-2009, 10:47 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C Africa View Post
* As to energy efficiency, once you've factored in electric motor efficiency, plus battery charge efficiency, plus distribution losses plus efficiency of generating e with fossil fuels, you're probably down to less than 50% efficiency. Now compare that to the highly efficient new models of diesel engines (say an 800cc engine with comparable performance to an electric car).
.

Diesels are lucky to aproach the 40% mark, and electricty generation to charge electric cars doesn't need to be passed over long distances in the future. Localized solar installations will become mainstream in the next 10 years, and then there's no need to convert AC-DC for charging. Efficiency will be far greater than a diesel will ever see.
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      01-16-2009, 03:31 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by C Africa View Post
You don't need electric cars to get moving on "cleaning up" electricity generation, but it is not happening. Sorry Nixon, I am still not convinced. Couple of points on your replies:

* If I add your gas and coal statistics together, I get over 70% that are generated by burning fossil fuels. USA is one of the countries with the highest level of alternative sources so on a worldwide basis, my 80% is probably still accurate.
* As to energy efficiency, once you've factored in electric motor efficiency, plus battery charge efficiency, plus distribution losses plus efficiency of generating e with fossil fuels, you're probably down to less than 50% efficiency. Now compare that to the highly efficient new models of diesel engines (say an 800cc engine with comparable performance to an electric car).
* I agree with you 100% that bigger advances can be made in Power generation, one coal fired plant generates the same hothouse gasses as many thousands of gas vehicles. But what you'll do if you switch cars to "electric", you'll increase total electricity demand (meaning more power stations, which have a life of 50 years, not 5 years like a car) meaning you are perpetuating the "wrong" approach more than continuing to build gas cars. Also, you'll need to upgrade the whole distribution network to be able to handle massive additional demand you're going to place on the power grid.
* Once you are at the point where all new power generation plants will only be built with "green" technologies, THEN the electric alternative for cars becomes an option.

I just feel that the focus for all these years has been on the wrong section of the fossil fuel users. Much bigger advances could have been made in power generation if the same amount of research went into it as goes into building alternative energy cars.

Thanks for an interesting debate nevertheless.
1) We're talking about the US, not global. And natural gas emissions are nothing like coal emissions, so you can't just lump them together and call them all coal. Besides, you originally said COAL was 80%, and I just proved you wrong with the most up to date source of statistics from THE authority on the subject. Just accept that you provided a statistic that was wrong, and move on.

2) There are no 800cc diesel engine cars currently sold in the US, nor do I know of any that are scheduled to be sold in the US. Nor do any currently meet US emissions standards. Again, I'm talking about the US. If you are arguing that it would be BETTER to convert the entire US fleet of passenger vehicles to .8 liter diesels because they are up to 40% efficient (60% energy loss), then it is to convert the entire US fleet of passenger vehicles to electric vehicles,/plug-in electric hybrids/Range extended-EVs, you've already lost the argument.

Many of the modern electric cars that are being projected for 2010-2014 have performance similar to the gas cars they would replace, with even better performance projected in 2015+. A diesel smaller than 1 liter in displacement IS a slug, and will always be a slug. Is there a .8 liter diesel that can do 0-60 in 3.9 seconds? 7 seconds? 9 seconds? Either in production, or as a concept vehicle? More like 15-25 seconds.

And converting all our cars to diesel creates an even bigger energy infrastructure problem than going electric. No matter what you do, you can only get a certain percent of diesel out of every barrel of crude oil. Convert to 100% diesel, and you basically end up with gasoline becoming a waste-byproduct of trying to convert barrels of oil into diesel. Something will have to be done with the gasoline waste-byproduct if we no longer have gas cars. Even using European cracking methods, this waste gasoline would slash the effective efficiency of having a 100% diesel fleet. A 40% efficient diesel engine effectively becomes much less than 20% efficient if the gasoline becomes a waste by-product. Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for clean diesel passenger vehicles taking their fair share of the crude oil burning market while we are still stuck with burning crude. I myself came to this site because I REALLY REALLY want a diesel 123d while I wait to buy a high-performance electric car, and it kills me that BMW refuses to sell the 123d in the US today. But replacing 100% of our gas burning cars with diesel is not technically possible.

You cannot defend the inefficiency of the current US fleet of gas/diesel cars compared to electric cars by talking about a .8 liter diesel car that doesn't even exist in the US fleet, and could never replace the US fleet.

3) In the near term, there will be no need to make any changes to the electric grid. Most people will charge their cars at night, when electric plants currently have to shut down production, or dump electricity because they cannot shut down. It will take a long time for passenger vehicles charging at night to become more of a stress on the electrical grid than the daytime demand for AC, heating, lighting, etc. Rising demands for these daytime uses will continue to outstrip nighttime demands for car charging for many decades to come. This is no reason not to start selling electric cars.

The answer for the long term is a combination of "smart grid", increased localized generation (home solar/wind), and switching to the construction of non-carbon power plants. We will have to do much of this anyways due to our ever-growing daytime demands that I mentioned above. In fact, smart grid technology would HELP temper daytime high demand spikes by taking advantage of a large fleet of electric cars to improve grid efficiency. (it's too complex to detail here. Read up on smart grid technology)

Europe has been converting to non-carbon power plants since the mid-90's, and many EU countries have already reached 20% renewable electricity generation. This does not even include nuclear, which provides 87% of France's power. We are actually far behind, and need to catch up.

I don't know about the cars you drive, but the average lifespan of a gas car is NOT 5 years. Average lifespan of a car is much, much longer than that. More like 15-20 years. There are still plenty of cars made in the 90's out on the roads.


4) If you wait for our power generation to be green before there being any electric cars, you will still have 15-20 years of gas cars running on the road, even after your power is green. There are plenty of benefits for starting the process now, and the current system CAN support a measured transition. Waiting will just extend the process by 15-20 years. We should be converting our fleet to electric cars as we convert our power generation. And actually our conversion of our power generation to non-carbon resources is FAR AHEAD of the number of electric cars being driven today. The goal in the future is to have substantially greener power generation, and a substantial fleet of BEV/PHEV/REEV cars at the same time.

Yes there will still be some power plants that have a 50 year life span that will have to continue running until the end of their life, but this is a long term change. And many of our current plants are already nearing their end of life. The transition will take a while. Changes in energy sources have all historically taken a while. It took about 40 years to change from the horse and carriage to the motor car. The same 40 years to go from lighting homes with whale oil and tallow to electricity. It took about 40 years for us to go from heating our homes with coal to heating oil. It took about 40 years to transition from the Steam Engine to Diesel/electric. It will take us 40 years to transition out of using fossil fuels to power transportation.

But there always has been a starting place where the future seemed far away and unsolvable. We built tracks for trains, we paved roads for cars, we put up phone lines, etc. Historically, if we listened to the nay-sayers like you, we would be sitting in the dark without any whale-oil or tallow to burn, riding our horses to work, and waiting for the next Steam Train to bring supplies from distant places.

We are at another starting place right now. The foolish position is to wait until we are the last First World nation to start, knowing that it WILL take decades to make the transition smoothly. Nations that make the conversion out of non-renewable sources of energy will have a massive economic advantage over nations that fail to do so. Right now the EU has about a decade head start on us. Even China is making moves now that will soon leave us behind. We can't afford to wait before we even start.


You've failed to show how running electric cars even on straight coal power is worse than our current US fleet of ~25% efficient gas burning passenger cars.

You've failed to address any of the other benefits I mentioned from going electric.

You've failed to show how continuing to build gas, or even .8 Liter diesel cars would be better than going electric. If we continue to build gas vehicles, we will need new refineries that would also pollute. We should build clean electric plants instead.

I just can't see what your long term vision is of where the United States should be going. Your best idea, the .8 liter diesel car, could only replace a small percentage of the US fleet, and a small percentage of what PHEV's, BEV's, and REEV's could replace. And while I agree that more must be done to convert US power generation to greener sources, doing that alone still won't address at all the issue of burning fossil fuels for transportation.

Continuing on building gas vehicles as our only transportation seems to be a recipe for continuing to strengthen our enemies, polluting ourselves, and putting ourselves at a long-term economic disadvantage.
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