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Thread: EVs and the environment

              
   
   
  1. #1
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    EVs and the environment

    Today my newspaper printed an article by Paul Stenquist of the NYT regarding a new study to be released tomorrow by the Union of Concerned Scientists evaluating the carbon footprint of electric vehicles (specifically the Leaf). The report is titled "State of Charge: Electric Vehicles Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States" (catchy, huh?). Apparently the California Leaf is a good polluter, with a carbon footprint equivalent to an IC car getting 79 miles per gallon of gasoline. However, a Denver Leaf is a relatively large polluter, equivalent to an IC car like the Mazda 3, which is rated at 33 mpg. The differences are due to the source and method of producing the electric power used to charge the Leaf. In California there is a lot of relatively "green" power plants, while in Colorado much of that state's electrical power is generated by dirty coal-powered plants.

    In a slightly related subject, as I was riding around the Santa Cruz Mountains today, I stopped by an Open Space District parking lot (no electrical wall outlets there ) and spotted a new plug-in Prius. The car may be relatively low on carbon pollution, but it sure is causing a lot of visual pollution. Photo attached.
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    Well, when I pretend that I bought an e-bike for the greater good , for me the primary issue is reducing our dependence on foreign oil. But this is interesting. Burning coal releases more of certain kinds of substances than, say, natural gas (e.g., sulfur oxides), but I didn't think CO2 was one of them.

    As for visual pollution, I couldn't agree more. Most electric cars, save the Tesla, are as boring visually as they are performance-wise at best (and migraine-inducing at worst). E-bikes are the cure for both of those ailments

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    All electricity generated in the USA comes from domestic energy sources. From coal to solar, you're keeping your countries economy in your country rather than bleeding it out. It also has a vast variety of sustainable options to generate it.

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    Unlike petroleum, the electric grid is constantly getting cleaner as older Coal-fired facilities are replaced or retro-fitted.

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    Senior Member billmi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliC View Post
    Burning coal releases more of certain kinds of substances than, say, natural gas (e.g., sulfur oxides), but I didn't think CO2 was one of them.
    Yes, coal is primarily carbon. Burning is oxidizing. Oxidize carbon, and you get carbon dioxide. Pretty much any fuel that is plant based (oil and coal being geologically processed biomass are included there) will create CO2 when burned - equal to the amount of CO2 the biomass removed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.
    Sensei - Electric Ninja 250

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    Did the study account for the electricity needed to produce the gasoline burned by the cars?

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    I believe it takes anywhere from **4-7 kwh of electricity to produce 1 gallon of gasoline. Not to mention the electricity associated with pumping it through pipelines, and the electricity feeding all of the gas pumps in the country. So with gas...obviously you're burning coal too.


    And on a side note, I wonder what percentage of oil is burned or consumed during the refining process and what percentage of oil is burned or evaporated by tankers transporting it during a typical driving distance. I forget where I heard it, but apparently 100 something millions of gallons of gas are evaporated from tanks each year due to bad gas caps, other gas leaks, etc.

    **4-7 kwh looks like a crazy amount to me. Electricity is used, but it can't be that much can it? But I've read that in multiple places. Someone let me know if they find a legitimate source for that. I'll be looking..
    Last edited by EVGator; 24 April 2012 at 2140.

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    There is an excellent article about this written by evfinder.com called "USC Report on EVs and Global Warming". This guy writes an article about once a week or so on EV related topics . He also has updated links to current ebay EV sales. Here is the link http://evfinder.com/usc_report.htm
    Last edited by JohnSki; 25 April 2012 at 1756.

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