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Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:14 PM

Study casts doubt on electric vehicles' climate-saving credentials

Ifo study casts doubt on electric vehicles' climate-saving credentials
A Tesla Model 3 has a worse life-cycle carbon footprint than a similar-sized Mercedes diesel car, the renowned German think tank has found. It warns that electric vehicles are "no panacea" against climate change.

Link: https://www.dw.com/en/ifo-study-casts-doubt-on-electric-vehicles-climate-saving-credentials/a-48460328

(snips)
Germany is heading down a blind alley, the authors boldly state, because electric vehicles will "barely help to cut emissions" as battery-powered cars emit between 10% and "up to a quarter" more CO2 than a conventional diesel car.

The research trio compared the CO2 footprint of a Tesla Model 3 with those of a Mercedes 220d diesel car and a Mercedes C Class model converted from petrol to liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Their focus was on the cars' whole life cycle emissions — from the first nut welded right down to the cars' final kilometer. The life cycle in terms of distance driven was arbitrarily set at 150,000 kilometers (93,205 miles) for better judgement.

As an engineer, I've always been skeptical about claim of electric cars saving the planet because most analysts were failing to include complete life-cycle emissions for batteries and electric energy sources. It is a very complex analysis and subject to much contention. Therefore, I still withhold my final judgment and I'm probably too damned old to make the call anyway.

Regardless of your opinion on this topic, this article contains some very informative data on the various inputs to this discussion.

KY..........

18 replies, 1067 views

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:26 PM

1. Yeah, interesting, but still a lot of variables...

that may be challenging common sense. Power generation is in flux around the world as more and more renewables come on line.

Natural gas is "cleaner" than coal as far as particulates and some of the other toxic emissions, but still releases CO2 into the atmosphere, not to mention the problems with fracking it out of the ground.

EV's reduce tailpipe emissions directly. The other producers of CO2 in the chain will still need to be addressed. That is no reason to outlaw EV's and resume the love of fossil fuel transport.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 04:10 PM

16. WB, I don't think anyone is advocating not producing electric cars, but instead...

a few are trying to better educate the public on the big picture. In the big long-term picture, electric vehicles are just a stepping stone and eventually people around the globe must give up the notion that we are entitled to travel anywhere we want to at any time and do it cheap.

From the strip mines for exotic metals for batteries and common metals for copper and steel frames to the large amount of plastics (from oil), each personal vehicle of any type takes quite a toll on the planet.

There is no panacea for moving human bodies around without tremendous environmental costs.....

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:32 PM

2. Maybe...

I take these "bold" findings from a single source with a grain of salt. Sort of like the Danish or Norwegian guy that singlehandedly blew up global warming - right. When there is consensus of opinion and peer review, I would be happy to give this some credence.

We have an electric car and PV panels, so no additional carbon is created to run the thing. Then there is no oil changes, so no dirty oil. Think of the impact of drilling for oil, hauling the oil, refining the oil, shipping the gas, leaking gas storage tanks, gasoline vapors, etc. I once read that the pollution created by the ship bringing a load of Toyota Prius cars to the US is greater than the benefit provided by the all the Prius' on board the ship. So let's apply the damage a smoking tanker ship adds to the global environment hauling crude which is then refined and burned. I just can't see the product of car batteries equaling that mess.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:39 PM

3. It warns that electric vehicles are "no panacea" against climate change

Is someone seriously making the claim that electric vehicles are the panacea against climate change?

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:37 PM

12. Generally only opponents make claims like that...



Eco-warriors actually do have a broad front strategy to attack overuse of fossil fuels, particularly in transport and generation, where everybody on the eco side are working to reduce emissions.

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Response to Wounded Bear (Reply #12)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:57 PM

15. I think you're correct

I'm a bit tired of the simplistic arguments that "Well, Al Gore still flies in jets" or "My voluntarily going all renewable energy won't change a thing." Because that's the point: If one person changing his or her habits would save the planet, we wouldn't be at a crisis/tipping point. My switch to bicycle commuting would have solved everything. It's going to take massive (and mass) efforts to blunt the impact of current practices. It's going to take massive (and mass) changes to begin to reverse the effect of those practices.

We need to proceed on several fronts at several levels.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:41 PM

4. But how about a reduction in localized emissions such as urban areas?

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:44 PM

5. the study is pretty limited, though

The one convincing conclusion that it reaches--that electric cars aren't an environmental panacea--isn't exactly controversial. I don't think anyone should really think otherwise. And it's true that in certain energy infrastructures (like Germany's which relies heavily on fossil fuels) they can wind up producing more CO2. Even the study acknowledges that elsewhere in Europe the math shifts towards the Tesla.

And certainly the production of the batteries creates additional problems. But the production of batteries is becoming increasingly efficient, and that trend will likely continue. They can also be repurposed once they're no longer fit as car batteries. So the carbon footprint of the batteries will, in all likelihood, decrease as the technology becomes more widespread.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:53 PM

6. Hey KY_Guy

I am always wary of the claims of any emerging technology. But I am also wary of any think tanks because they can have ulterior motives or questionable methodologies as well.

Having said that, there are a number of things that strike me about the article.

Number one, the knock against the electric vehicle is based on the current output of the electric generation there in Germany. There is no one that thinks that electric vehicles are the only step needed. Modern means of sustainable power generation is part of every plan or else we are simply centralizing the problem to the plans. Even so, the plants are more efficient at making power than millions of isolated IC Engines so there is still a benefit. Not to mention that centralizing the power generation can allow for other potential technologies like carbon capture at the concentrated source. But the overriding point is that the power generation needs to modernize as well.

More importantly to me, I think it misses the point in comparing high tech e-vehicles with other leading edge technologies. Any of these three vehicles would be a gigantic improvement over the other billion+ cars on the road. The differences between them are marginal compared to the advantages of any of them. There is room for all of those technologies to be part of the solution if they perform at a similar level.

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Response to genxlib (Reply #6)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:34 PM

11. Agree, GenX but I would have liked for them to have made the point.....

that even electric cars are extremely inefficient end-to-end for converting sun rays into moving someone's ass from A-to-B.

And, I would have liked for them to include comparative data to high-speed rail and urban rail technologies. THAT would have really added punch to the discussion.

KY.......

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:55 PM

7. As somebody who has lived in an Asian megacity: total lifetime emissions isn't everything

There's something to be said for simply moving emissions out of the most densely populated areas.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:57 PM

8. What

The German think tank says a German made car is just as good as an electric car?

Oil companies are full of scientists that think oil is no big deal too.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 02:58 PM

9. Car culture is killing our planet.

Nevertheless, I don't think I'd trust any German study favoring diesel cars.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_emissions_scandal



There may be a place in some utopian sustainable world economy for vehicles fueled by dimethyl ether synthesized from carbon dioxide dissolved in sea water using nuclear power.

Other than that, automobiles are among mankind's most idiotic tool-monkey misadventures.

This thing we now call economic "productivity" is a direct measure of the damage we are doing to whatever is left of our Earth's natural environment and our own human spirit.

My rating of human transportation is walking first, followed by bicycles and sailing, followed by electric public transportation. Automobiles are not on my list.

I am myself an unwilling participant in automobile culture.

My wife and I by some planning and greater good fortune have avoided the car commuter lifestyle since the later 'eighties. But I still have to own a car to be considered a functional adult in this society. My car cost less than a thousand dollars, has a salvage title, gets over 30 miles per gallon, passes smog tests, and is my own rolling "fuck you!" to car culture.

If somebody gave me a brand new Tesla or Mercedes I'd hand it off like a hot potato to a favorite charity, hoping they'd get a good price for it selling it to an actual little old wealthy lady who only drove it to church on Sundays.

I would like to live in a world where the vast majority of people consider car ownership an unnecessary nuisance and in no way a necessity or even a marker of social status.

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Response to hunter (Reply #9)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:51 PM

14. I commend you for your efforts and wish the world would think that way.

It's sickening when I drive around town and see the percentage of cars with only one or two people, representing America's addiction to "freedom" and entitlement to travel at will. Somehow, that attitude will eventually have to change.

........

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Response to hunter (Reply #9)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 04:24 PM

18. I don't have a car. Don't really need one.

I walk, use public transportation, drive my 125cc scooter which gets about 60 mpg (which I use when needing to ride to a nearby town and the weather is good), or catch a ride with a friend or family member who is driving by and going the same place I am.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:00 PM

10. interesting article

The fact that the carbon count tips clearly in favor of combustion engines is primarily the result of Germany's fossil-fuel-heavy energy production, the researchers however say. While Norway's energy production for example relies heavily on renewable energy from water power — which may give the Tesla 3 a carbon lead over its Mercedes rivals — that's not the case given Germany's energy mix.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:42 PM

13. We are on our second Fusion plug in. Sticking it to Shell and friends is good enough for me for now.

The next car will be all electric.

As solar improves and evolves we will be ready on the car side of the equation.

We’ve already seen battery technology grow tremendously. Those improvements will help home solar.

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 04:19 PM

17. Here is where the battery in your electric car comes from: a lithium mine



Don't forget the cobalt! Here are youngsters engaged in the fun activity of bashing rocks to get cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo:



Cobalt is the industry's weakest link. About 65 percent comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which I can say from personal reporting, has some of the most dangerous and environmentally destructive mines on the planet, often worked by children. Most Congolese authorities are deeply corrupt, and civil war is a significant risk in mining regions.

Western companies worry human rights activists will start talking about "blood cobalt," which is why Tesla has said it wants all raw materials sourced in North America. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/columnists/tomlinson/article/Electric-vehicles-trigger-search-for-lithium-and-12231210.php

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