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This is the first serving in a series of 3-4 posts about electric vehicles (EVs), leading up to National Plug-In Day on September 28. A few days ago we celebrated our own first anniversary as EV drivers. Ironically, it fell exactly as we were on a camping trip with our non-electric car ;) This coincidence is a great reminder that life consists of compromises and shades of grey. Indeed, the series will steer clear of ideological purity, and instead discuss the real-world properties and impact of EVs as a real-world, imperfect solution to real-world problems.

Before I begin, here is a request which I frame and bold.

When I started sharing my experiences as an EV driver, I was taken aback by the level of controversy and vitriol about EVs among progressives and environmentalists.

This series can be seen as an attempt to address this controversy in a reality-based manner. This particular diary is the diary I've worked on more than any other I had published on this site (174 and counting).

Not only is this a reality-based diary; scientific "hard" facts are the main subject matter. I will try to explain how the greenhouse-footprint of EVs is calculated, convey where current knowledge about this issue stands - and present my own conclusions regarding the current life-cycle-footprint reality.

If you have a pre-conceived opinion against (or for) EVs, and care only about broadcasting that sentiment in a context-free, hurtful and dismissive manner, regardless of facts, evidence or diary topic - please stay away.

Besides, if you engage in such behavior you will likely be in flagrant violation of numerous well-established site rules.  

[ Just to allay any concern before you leave, I now state the obvious: it is far better for the planet, when anyone who can get around without a car, DOESN'T GET A CAR at all ]

Thank you. I continue now:

Arguably, 2013 might be remembered as the year of the modern EV's breakthrough. Across most of America, EVs have now entered mainstream consciousness - not only as a consumer choice for ordinary people planning to get a car, but also as a discussion topic. 2013 is also when the United States has established itself as the #1 place the EV story is being played out. US EV sales have mushroomed, leaving other regions in the dust (currently we're on pace to a 80%-100% increase over 2012). And the US is also - rather impressively and surprisingly considering the state of US auto industries over the past generation - the place where the unquestioned technology and mass-market leaders of the two branches of the EV market (all-electric, and plug-in-hybrid/extended-range) have been designed and are being made: namely, the Tesla Model S and the Chevy Volt.

Such dramatic changes, and their even greater disruptive potential, rarely come without controversy. The flamboyant and media-monster persona of Tesla's founder Elon Musk adds some spice to the media EV mix, but this goes far beyond Musk himself. Everyone and his brother (yes, automotive journalism still seems to be a nearly exclusive male territory) now feels the need to opine or "analyze" some aspect of EVs every other week. As a whole, the mainstream media vibe is still predominantly anti-EV. If you disbelieve me, take some time to fish out EV "analysis" articles from 2011, 2012 and this year. According to mainstream analyst consensus, the EV segment should have withered and died in shame by now multiple times over. I might deal with media coverage on a later post. But first things first, and more important than anything else is dispelling myths about EVs' environmental impact.

Nissan Leaf, with a question
Conservatives, high on fumes from the oil lobby, have been rather quick and nearly unanimous in their anti-EV stance. Unfortunately, the opposite has not happened: even though EV early adopters are predominantly progressive, liberal and environmentalist - the broader progressive, liberal and environmentalist communities have been at least somewhat ambivalent about EVs, raising a wide variety of concerns.

Since present-day EVs are promoted and subsidized first and foremost for environmental reasons, I will deal with environmental issues first. To simplify matters, today's post will only deal with the greatest immediate environmental problem - namely, global warming and the EV greenhouse-gas footprint. A second post will consider other environmental impacts of the EV.  

If you want some sort of bottom line to skip reading the entire diary, here it is: roughly speaking, the median of all the recent complete-life-cycle analyses suggests that EVs on average have a global-warming footprint somewhat smaller (i.e., better) than the best of hybrids. Over the past weeks I have read quite a few scientific articles and reports on the matter, and conversed with their authors. I have reasons to think that the true EV footprint is actually even better than this consensus picture. My view is closest to that of the EPA, whose footprint-estimate for the EV is better than the other major reports, placing EV footprint squarely lower than any conventional vehicle (pdf, Figure 3-1 on p. 74 is the bottom-line one - it is displayed towards the end of this diary).

Moreover, there is a near-universal consensus among life-cycle analysts that things will keep improving in terms of EV footprint.

One thing's for sure: anything you've heard about EVs being some elaborate hoax from certain car companies, a hoax whose environmental damage far exceeds any tangible benefits - is pure baloney. Ozzie Zehner and his "Unclean at any speed" trope is probably Exhibit A for the "green" variant of this anti-EV disinformation (sorry; not linking to him - he doesn't seem to be reality-based).

Now, if you will bear with me, the nitty gritties are below the first curlicue...

0. Some Terminology, Ground Rules and Basic Reality Checks



EV - this name will be use as an umbrella term for any vehicle that can drive based on power charged from a plug. This includes the "pure" electric-only BEV (battery EV) like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla S, the PHEV or plug-in hybrid and plug-in Toyota Prius, and also more exotic beasts like the EREV (extended-range EV, e.g. the Chevy Volt, whose gas motor can only be used as a generator to recharge its battery, but not to directly drive the car - h/t Morgan in Austin for the correction regarding the Volt!).

ICE - internal combustion engine.

GHG - greenhouse gases. In practical terms this is mainly CO2, with sometimes-substantial contribution from methane. The GHG footprint is usually expressed in terms of kg-CO2-equivalent.

LCA - life-cycle analysis. Nowadays, this refers to any attempt to quantify the real-life GHG footprint of some activity of product, from its inception to its end of life.

Other acronyms will be defined at the time of their introduction. Finally (for this section), the reality checks.

Reality Check 0-A: GHG footprint analysis is a young and still-evolving science.
Wide awareness of human-caused global warming, even in the academic community, did not really take place before the 1990s. Therefore, while other types of pollution have been studied for decades, GHG footprint analysis is still an emerging field. So no footprint report you read, anywhere, should be considered as the final definitive word. Rather, all are attempts (some of higher quality, some of lower) to get some general stab of the GHG impact of various activities and products.
Reality Check 0-B: All major GHG-footprint LCAs of EVs are done with good faith.
I've read at least a couple of EV LCAs that made me mad. They were unfair; they were sloppy; etc. etc. But I do not concur with the various accusations against the authors of such reports. No one who engages in GHG-footprint LCA does it to make the environment worse. Some authors probably do have a deep-seated belief that EVs are not good, and it might affect their analysis choices and surely affects their report's framing - but they are not shills for anyone, least of all the oil industry.

And even if there was such a shill to be ratted out, for our own sanity and well-being it's better to critique their work on the merits. Sort of in line with the community culture we're trying to promote here, right?

Reality Check 0-C: EVs have been subject to far more GHG-footprint scrutiny than ICE vehicles.
This is the height of irony; after all, EVs are still a fraction of a percent of the global vehicle fleet. Surely we'd like to know better about the impact of the 99.9x%, before we slice and dice the remainder? But this is a natural result of GHG-footprint's young history: the science was hardly born, when this slew of new and intriguing vehicle types came up as possible mitigators of ICE problems (not just EVs, but also stuff like liquified-natural-gas and hydrogen-cell cars). Naturally it is more exciting, and at face value more responsible, to inspect the GHG footprint of these novel products.

It seems more boring to go back and scrutinize petroleum the the vehicles guzzling its products for the umpteenth time, right? Except there is no umpteenth time, there is hardly a first time here. How to I know? I asked Dr. Andy Burnham of Argonne National Labs, responsible for one the most-relied-upon suite of vehicle-related GHG analysis. He is the lead author of the most recent article out of ANL to mention gasoline and ICE-vehicle GHG overhead. His article focuses on natural gas; data for gasoline relies on a decade-old analysis. No one in their lab has seriously touched the subject since the early 2000s. And just like with Internet history, in GHG-analysis history the early 2000s are essentially the dinosaur era.

So just keep this in mind: it is a verifiable fact that EVs are being singled out in the present discourse about vehicular GHG-footprint analysis. This is not out of bad faith, but simple group dynamics, and the notion that ICE-vehicle footprint is a known and settled quantity. btw, I beg to differ with this notion. One small example: I haven't seen LCAs that seriously address the gradually increasing amount of maintenance and repair that ICE cars require as the car ages. A larger example will be discussed towards the end.

Reality Check 0-D: Even the most EV-skeptic GHG-footprint LCAs estimate that EVs are better than typical ICE compacts, and equivalent to ICE hybrids.
You wouldn't guess it from the vibes in certain sectors of the environmental movement. But even those LCAs least favorable to EVs (here, here), still place it clearly ahead of most ICE cars - surely the gas-guzzling US fleet where even new compacts barely average 25 MPG - and roughly on par with ICE hybrids. The more EV-friendly analyses, which include this Union of Concerned Scientists report, as well as the most recent official word from the EPA itself, have the EVs beat hybrids fairly handily. Keep this in mind...

On to the actual analysis. LCA for vehicles is best (IMHO) decomposed into 3 concentric circles of analysis:

1. Energy efficiency - how much energy it takes to drive a mile?
2. Ongoing-use footprint - suppose there's an EV and an ICE car (or ICE hybrid) in the parking lot, and you can take either one. How much GHG emission is associated with driving a mile in each car, including the overhead from producing the elecricity on one hand, and taking the crude from the ground and turning it into gas at the pump on the other hand?
3. Life-Cycle Analysis - the overall amount of GHG emissions generated by the car, including #2 for all the miles driven on it, and also production, maintenance and decommission overhead for the car itself.

1. Energy Efficiency and MPGe



I am a great fan of MPGe. It is arguably the cleanest measure in this entire vehicle-footprint analysis mess, and it brings us back to the basics.

MPGe stands for Miles-Per-Gallon-equivalent. The term was invented by the EPA to enable energy-efficiency comparisons between ICE and non-ICE cars. It estimates the average distance a non-ICE car can travel, while using an amount of energy exactly equal to one gallon of gas.

EPA MPGe and range sticker of the 2013 Nissan Leaf
EPA's energy efficiency sticker for the 2013 Nissan Leaf

Why do I like MPGe? I mean, besides the fact that EVs fare fabulously on it? Well, as we are often reminded, the CO2 and global-warming crisis is the most extreme manifestation of a broader challenge facing our society: can we sustain acceptable quality of life while addressing the urgent imperative to use far less energy per capita than we currently do?

It is therefore refreshing to learn that you can have a perfectly good car fulfilling most or all of your family-locomotion needs, and still use so much less energy. Even the less-efficient members of the leading EV family (that would be the Volt and the Model S) are 2x as efficient as the Prius and 3x-5x more efficient than regular ICE cars. The Nissan Leaf and other compact BEVs are about 2.5x more energy efficient than the Prius (115-120+ MPGe, vs. 47 MPG). And if you take a compact BEV to replace the in-city miles of an ICE car, then the BEV advantage is 4x-8x, because the city is precisely where the EV shines while non-hybrid ICE vehicles struggle. As a case in point, most of the 4300 miles we've driven so far on our 2012 Leaf (106 MPGe EPA in-city, and according to the car's log we've done somewhat better than that) were in-city, where our 2001 Santa Fe does at most 15 MPG (my estimate based on actual gas consumption). That's >7x improvement right there.

Reality Check 1: In terms of pure energy efficiency, the worst of EVs are about 2x better than the best of ICE hybrids. In comparison with non-hybrid ICE the gap is larger, even more so for urban driving.
You can easily find online polemics trashing the MPGe. These attacks are the result of a misunderstanding: they mix step #1 and step #2 of the footprint analysis. Of course, step #2 is important - but the question of energy efficiency stands on its own, and as the one with the most precise answer, it is the best place to start.

And now, to step #2:

2. Ongoing-Use Footprint Analysis



A.k.a., "wells-to-wheels" or "everything but the car itself" analysis. This is when things start getting dicey. Let's start with what is supposedly the easier side: ICE cars.

The baseline GHG intensity of burning oil is about 270 gCO2/KWh (note that we use KWh to make the comparison with EVs easier; usually the numbers are given as gCO2/MJoule but 1 KWh=3.6 MJoule). However, this does not include the "wells-to-pump" overhead due to extraction, transportation, refining, etc. The estimate for the average overhead is somewhere in the 25%-35% range, it varies widely by oil source (pdf) and IMHO it is generally on the low side - a point I will get to towards the diary's end. However, a "safe" consensus take-home number is ~350 gCO2/KWh for "wells-to-wheels" ICE driving.

Now to the EV side. EVs generally charge from the grid, so their ongoing-use footprint is highly variable from region to region. For example, our Seattle City Light grid is 90% hydro, 4% wind, 4% nukes and very very little fossil. The CO2 footprint of renewables and nukes is puny: the estimates for practically all of them are well under 100 gCO2/KWh, usually far less than that. (aside: I happen to be a nuke-skeptic, and I haven't scrutinized the nuke emissions calculations to see if they miss something big - but this is a bit moot at this point, b/c Fukushima has made nukes about as popular as The Plague).

How do we mesh all these numbers together? The ongoing-use footprint of any vehicle can be written as

                                       {Source intensity (gCO2/KWh)}  
Footprint (gCO2/mile) =    -------------------------------------    x   {33.7 KWh/gallon}
                                     {Vehicle efficiency (MPG or MPGe)}
                                           
The KWh/gallon number doesn't matter when comparing cars, b/c this number is just a constant conversion factor. The comparison is reduced to dividing the source intensity by the MPG or MPGe.

For example: if we compare an EV running from a renewable/nuke dominated grid like Seattle's with say 50 gCO2/KWh average footprint, to an ICE car, our 2x-8x advantage in vehicle efficiency is now multiplied by another 350/50 = 7x advantage on the power source GHG intensity - to an overall advantage of some 15x over ICE hybrids and way more than that over regular ICE. Seriously, I can probably drive 100 miles on our Leaf causing the emission equivalent of maybe 2 miles driving our Santa Fe in the city.

Seattle is not alone: All along the West Coast, hydro power dominates and wind is substantial, yielding a renewable-dominated grid. Incidentally, the West Coast is also home to 3 of the top 4 local EV markets, and roughly half of the EVs currently rolling on American roads. The Northeast, another area with above-average EV adoption rate, is dominated by nukes and hydro.

Reality Check 2a: in areas whose power grid is dominated by non-fossil energy sources - such as the West Coast and substantial parts of the Northeast - the ongoing-use GHG footprint of driving an EV mile is at least 15x better than driving an ICE hybrid mile, and as much as 50x better than driving a mile in a non-hybrid ICE vehicle.
"Unclean at any speed" is starting look rather doubtful at this point.

On to fossils. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the median estimate of natural-gas power plant GHG footprint is 469 gCO2/KWh. This number includes the plant's efficiency losses and other overhead contributions. It is a higher footprint than oil's, but only by about 1.3x. Remember: EVs start out with a 2x-8x energy-efficiency advantage. Therefore, EVs drawing power from natural gas should be at least 20% better than comparable ICE hybrids in terms of footprint, on an ongoing-use basis. For example the Climate Central report lists Rhode Island's grid as essentially all-natural-gas, and pegs Nissan Leaf's ongoing-use GHG footprint there at 10% better than the Prius (they used a higher emission factor for natural gas than the IPCC figure quoted above; you start seeing the problem with all those snazzy footprint-analysis documents? The Devil's in the details).

Reality Check 2b: in areas whose grid is powered by natural gas, the ongoing-use GHG footprint of driving an EV mile is about 1.3x-2x smaller than driving an ICE hybrid mile (depending on model), and 2x-6x smaller than driving a mile in a non-hybrid ICE vehicle.
US utility power source mix, state averages, 2012. From Climate Central's EV vs. hybrid report, based on Federal data.
US 2012 electric-utility fuel mix, averaged by state. Note the doubly poor representation of data: 1. Most utilities are not defined by state boundaries. The standard approach divides the US into 12 nationwide power-producing regions whose boundaries bisect many states, and 2. The figure distorts the vastly different power consumption of different states (e.g, Wyoming is shown in the same size as California). This sloppy and confusing data visualization is par for the course of the Climate Central report, from which the figure is taken.

Now please follow me on a small detour. Remember the caveat regarding the GHG footprint of driving a biodiesel car? In particular, the footprint of driving a vehicle on biodiesel generated from waste oil is 6x-8x smaller than driving it on "regular" diesel.

What gives? After all, waste-oil biodiesel also gets burned by the engine, with CO2 coming out the exhaust. Here's what gives. The cooking oil is produced anyway for the food industry. And no matter how you dispose of it, the CO2 it traps will eventually be released to the atmosphere anyway. So the only GHG impact of waste-oil biodiesel is the energy needed to convert it.

Ok...  Now I'm ready to bite the black bullet: Coal.

Coal plants' huge CO2 footprint is the reason some smartasses have invented the epithet "Coal Cars" to describe EVs. Truth be told, the US electricity grid in 2012 was only 37% coal, down from 45% in 2010; and as mentioned above most EV-friendly regions use far less coal than that.

But still. At an IPCC median of almost exactly 1000 gCO2/KWh, the listed footprint of coal offsets too much of the EV energy-efficiency advantage. At face value, a compact EV fed from a coal-dominated grid would now emit some 1.2x-1.4x more GHGs per mile driven, on an ongoing-use basis, than the best ICE hybrids. Leading analysts like the Climate Central authors to literally gloat.

Whoa. Hold your horses, gloaters. It takes coal plants at least several days to change their coal-burning rate. Which means that they burn their coal at the same rate, day - and night. What happens to all that CO2 burned up at night, when consumers use far less electricity? Some of it is converted to gravitational energy: every night utilities pump water up into water tanks and reservoirs. This enables gravity-based water distribution during the day, and also provides emergency water in case of blackouts.

But the overall available amount of water-tank energy storage is barely a few percent of power plant capacity (see, e.g., the data here). And there's really no other massive storage option out there right now. The vast majority of off-peak burned coal goes to waste (waste heat, I suppose; although I could not get a positive verification for this).

Now... if only there was some additional, emerging form of energy storage that can be invoked at night... that would be a win-win for people and the planet...
...Are you kidding me? When do you think most EV drivers charge their cars? If they are substantial daily-commute drivers, they reach the evening needing to recharge most of their battery in time for the morning commute. Yes, in principle if they plug their car in right at 5 PM, their charging might coincide with the evening power-demand peak. But consider this:

1. Recharging the EV battery on a daily basis from nearly-empty might take anywhere from a couple of hours to nearly all night, depending upon the charging method (I'm excluding DC fast-charging here, because that's not a daily home-based charging method) and the charging amount needed.

2. All EVs come with a charging timer, so the fact you plug the car in at 5 PM doesn't mean it starts swilling juice at 5 PM. You can set the timer to any starting time, as long as you are recharged by morning.

3. Coal-dominated utilities greatly reward off-peak charging. Examples: Georgia Power, supplying juice to Atlanta, one of the top 5 EV markets nationwide (and drawing ~40% of its power from coal) has these rates for EV drivers: 20.3c/hour 2-7 PM M-F, vs 1.3c/hour 11PM-7AM. Say you need to recharge 12KWh every night, your charger can do it in 2 hours, and you get home by 5PM. Would you rather pay nearly $2.5 every night... or set the timer to late-night and pay only 15c??.  In Lexington KY whose grid is nearly all coal, the difference is less dramatic, but still decent at 14c/KWh peak vs. 5.3c/KWh off-peak.

In short: EV drivers of the Coal Belt, fear not. If you diligently charge during the off-peak hours, your EV is not a "coal car" but a "wasted-coal-energy recycling car", with a negligible ongoing-use GHG footprint. There are other utility types where off-peak charging matters, but the most dramatic effect is doubtlessly in coal regions.

Here's a shocker: most current analyses of EV's footprint don't incorporate any assumption about EV charging patterns. Instead, they use the list value for coal's energy intensity, which means that they assume EV charge patterns are the same as the daily patterns of overall consumer demand. A ridiculously wrong assumption.

Some people have started looking into this, just barely. An analysis mentioned in this book chapter from UC-Davis assumed 4 realistic EV-charging scenarios on a coal grid, and found about a 50% reduction in footprint compared to the formal peak-load footprint. I have a feeling the reality is far better than that, but I'll take this number as an upper bound.

Reality Check 2c: in coal-dominated electric grids, if an EV charges mostly during peak-demand hours, then its ongoing-use GHG footprint can be as bad as 1.2x-1.4x higher than a comparable ICE hybrid.

However, realistic assumptions about EV off-peak charging reduce this footprint by at least one-half, and brings the EV ongoing-use footprint on par with natural gas (see above). With prudent EV charging done almost exclusively during off-peak hours, the effective ongoing-use EV footprint using coal-power grids can become nearly zero.

So much for "Coal Cars".

How much off-peak capacity is there to spare, before nightly EV charging approaches the daily peaks and forces coal utilities to increase production? Thanks to the EV's superior energy efficiency, quite a lot (see again why MPGe matters?). It is likely that coal will start phasing out nearly everywhere in the US, before we get to the point of lacking off-peak coal capacity to power EVs.

To sum things up:

Reality Check 2 - summary:

Assuming today's grid and typical EV charging patterns, on an ongoing-use basis, the GHG footprint of EVs is at least 20%-30% lower than that of the best comparable ICE hybrid. The difference can be far more dramatic depending upon region and EV driving/charging patterns.

An EV driver would have to engage in silly and almost deliberately wasteful driving/charging behavior, in order to incur a long-term ongoing-use GHG footprint worse than the best comparable ICE hybrid.

The only viable ICE competition to EVs on the ongoing-use footprint metric appears to be biodiesel vehicles. But unless you diligently fuel your biodiesel beast with waste-oil fuel, you will be assisting genetically-modified mass agriculture (for corn or soybeans), some of which comes with a footprint as bad as oil's. This, besides the fact that diesel-exhaust fumes were formally declared by the WHO as carcinogeic. For these reasons, as well as its scarcity, I will leave biodiesel aside as a green ICE competitor from this point on.

Note: the EPA just came out with an online ongoing-use GHG footprint calculator for EVs. The calculator compares the ongoing-use footprint of a specific EV you choose in a US zip code, to the new US ICE vehicle fleet average of 500 gCO2/mile. Differences between regions there are less dramatic than in other sources, but they too reach the conclusion that, e.g., the Leaf (even the 2011-2012, needless to say the more efficient 2013) has a lower ongoing-use footprint than the Prius (whose footprint is roughly half the national ICE average at 250 gCO2/mile) regardless of grid. Check it out: put in the zip of some coal-dominated region and see the numbers.  

The bottom-line LCA figure from the 2013 EPA life-cycle analysis for EVs.
The bottom-line LCA figure from the 2013 EPA life-cycle analysis for EVs.

3. Life-Cycle Analysis



We are approaching the moment of truth: a complete LCA of the vehicle's GHG emission footprint, cradle-to-junkyard. But paradoxically, this "truth" is anything but: already during the ongoing-use analysis, you've seen how variability, uncertainty and critical assumptions can tilt the entire numbers boat hither or thither. This is nothing compared to LCA.

And perhaps not surprisingly, since strategically-placed assumptions can tilt the entire analysis to your preferred direction, the assumptions about EV battery-pack footprint vary wildly. According to some schools of thoughts, it seems that EV battery packs are produced via a process of killing babies and burning pristine forests. I think here it will be simpler to begin from the Reality Check rather than end with it:

Reality Check 3a: recent estimates of the GHG footprint of EV battery pack production vary wildly, from 5 kgCO2/kg to 22 kgCO2/kg. The analyses showing EVs as somewhat inferior to the best hybrids on a life-cycle basis, used the high end of this range.

However, the most recent and most authoritative estimates are also the lowest ones.

The battery overhead has been the joker in the deck of EV-skeptic analyses and advocates. Climate Central's report took the highest available estimate, and calculated the Leaf battery as costing 5.2 tons CO2 to make. That's quite a hole to dig out of: on an ongoing-use basis, a Prius emits about 1 kg/CO2 per 4 miles driven. So according to the high-end battery estimates, a Prius can drive >20,000 miles just on the Leaf's battery emissions! Or put another way, these 5.2 tons are about 70% of the emissions required (according to the same report) to build an entire 190-horsepower ICE car!  Coupled with an assumption that Leaf batteries will need replacement every 50k miles on average, and giving the Leaf no discount for off-peak charging, Climate Central concluded that in some 2/3 of US states the Leaf would have a greater life-cycle GHG footprint than the Prius. Then they overstated their results (while downplaying their extreme assumptions) with the headline "Hybrids are greener than EVs..." Oh well. As a bonus, they made the same assumptions on the Tesla S, yielding 13 tons on the 60 KWh battery model -- a setback from which it is nearly impossible to climb vs. the 40 MPG Lexus ES hybrid, especially when saddled with all the other EV-hostile assumptions in that report.

Meanwhile... Dr. Jennifer Dunn and colleagues, at Argonne National Labs' GREET team, decided to take a longer harder look at EV battery footprints. GREET stands for The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model, and is considered one of the main global authorities on vehicular GHG footprint and other environmental impact. Dunn et al. list previous estimates ranging from 5 to 22 kgCO2/kg, examine in detail both the methodologies and the original problem itself - and come down hard on the side of the low-ball estimates (specifically 5.1 kgCO2/kg). The article itself is behind an academic paywall, but fortunately the supplement in which they scrutinize the battery-footprint estimates is free and open to all.

If you read that supplement, you'll learn that the 22 kgCO2/kg number used by Hawkins et al. and Climate Central, has a strange history and a questionable methodology. It was taken from a previous paper, which in turn based its most critical numbers upon a 2005 study into batteries of photovoltaic systems (not EV batteries). The methodology used a "top-down" black-box approach, which in Dunn et al.'s words,

...may be double counting or their results may reflect boundary blur.
Dunn et al. strongly recommend the detailed process-based approach that details the energy consumption of each step. In particular, the lowest of these estimates comes from the EPA itself, and is virtually identical to the numbers finally adopted by Dunn et al.

Using the Dunn et al. estimate, the Leaf battery's footprint is suddenly only about 1.2 tons CO2. An ICE (the engine) takes more energy to build than the analogous EV powertrain (sans the battery), by about half a ton (these are Climate Central's numbers). So using the Dunn et al. numbers for the EV battery instead of the inflated ones, the overall footprint of producing a Leaf-like EV become 8.2 tons CO2, vs. about 7 tons for a Prius-like hybrid and 7.5 tons for a plain-vanilla ICE compact. Not negligible, but not dramatic either. In fact, the difference is arguably smaller than the level of uncertainty about these estimates! Now, the Prius can barely drive 5,000 miles on its starting advantage, and ICE compacts can barely leave the parking lot on theirs.

Once off-peak charging is added to the mix, the Leaf's life-cycle footprint is assured of being smaller than the Prius' in all 50 states - turning the Climate Central headline on its head.  Even if we want to be conservative, and take a midpoint between the far-fetched, all-but-debunked 22 kgCO2/kg number and the more up-to-date ones, EVs still overtake the best comparable ICE hybrids rather comfortably, within 30-40k miles even under exclusively-fossil grids, once partial off-peak charging is accounted for. The Tesla S 60 KWh model, as well, now overtakes the Lexus hybrid fairly comfortably.

Reality Check 3b: under moderate assumptions, EVs have a lower life-cycle GHG footprints than the best comparable hybrid.

For example, a compact EV is manufactured with a 1-2 ton CO2 "deficit" compared to a compact ICE hybrid. Assume 2 tons, and assume an exclusively fossil grid in which the EV makes up only 1 kg CO2 per 20 miles driven, compared with the ICE hybrid (we are assuming moderately rational EV charging behavior). Then the compact EV will overtake the ICE hybrid, in terms of overall GHG emissions, within 40,000 miles.

Since we already know that present-day compact EV battery packs last more than 40k miles on the average, the EVs' advantage is assured even given this relatively hostile scenario, even vs. the best comparable ICE hybrid.

How do we know current EV batteries last on the average at least 40k miles? Because with Leafs and other EVs on the road for nearly 3 years now, we have thousands of such batteries approaching or passing this milestone, and a very low replacement rate. Nissan felt good enough regarding its 1st-generation battery life data, that last summer it retroactively granted a 60,000 mile warranty on batteries of all its Leafs.

But it gets even better for EVs:

  • The US grid keeps getting cleaner, shedding 8% of its footprint over just 2 years (2012 vs. 2010). As long as we can keep a global-warming denier out of the White House this will continue. Most states have policies or even mandates in place to keep improving the grid - policies which have withstood a concerted assault from ALEC. In 2012, for the first time ever, wind was the single largest source type in new power installations in the US.
  • The Dunn et al. report also examined the impact of recycling. At the moment the materials going into the Li-ion battery are not recycled. They show that recycling technologies proven at the laboratory level can reduce the EV battery footprint by half, bringing the overall EV manufacturing emissions on par with ICE cars.Given the generous government subsidies to the EV sector, governments surely have the leverage to spur the upscaling of these technologies.
  • Meanwhile, EV technology itself is far younger than ICE technology, and therefore is likely to improve energy efficiency far faster than ICE. Recently Toyota announced that their 2015 Prius will be 10% more energy efficient. They must be feeling the heat from something, because they have not bothered to produce even a 10% improvement cumulatively since 2004 (check it out here). Are they, perhaps, a bit worried about EVs upstaging them? Meanwhile, the 2013 Leaf is 16% more energy-efficient than the 2011-2012 version (you can check it out on the same link). EV makers have a far greater incentive to improve efficiency: it is the easiest way for them to improve the metric customers care the most about - the driving range.

Wait... Aren't we forgetting something?



Tying together the many strands thrown open in the preceding paragraphs, one can reasonably safely assume that a typical new EV's expected life-cycle GHG footprint is at least 10%-20% smaller than the best comparable new hybrid. But there's one more element completely left out of the current LCA numbers game, an element on the ICE side. Its neglect is rather illuminating, because it indicates how slanted and warped the entire "Are EVs really Green?" game has been.

When thinking about oil and its problems, what is the first association in ordinary people's minds? One that has dominated the global view of oil for 40 years? Right, war and conflict, especially in the Middle East where a plurality of the world's oil is produced and roughly half of its remaining reserves sit, but not only there. Killing babies and burning pristine forests? That's where you'll find it - in the way oil gets from the ground to your pump.

Where are military energy expenditures, war and destruction in the oil GHG overhead calculations? Right now, nowhere. Dr. Burnham of ANL admitted that none of the GREET models account for it, and sent me to a team in UC-Davis he thought was working on such matters. The researcher there thought it was a great idea, and offered me to work on it with one of his students or post-docs, if he can interest one of them in the project. I still might do it... on my spare time of course. The rest of the world apparently has no interest in such numbers. Even the good guys: the GHG overhead tables from California's Air Resource Board list Saudi-Kuwaiti oil as having one of the lowest GHG footprints in the world.

Well, almost no one is interested. There's this 2010 Guardian piece, part of their "What's the carbon footprint of...", that quotes some 250-600 million tons CO2 as the Iraq war's footprint. And finally, I even stumbled across a scientific article (by two agronomists from Iowa State U, Liska and Perrin) that tries to address exactly the question I was asking other researchers. They conclude that roughly 1/5 of US military emissions is related to "oil security". Then they calculate that the overall GHG overhead for imported Middle Eastern oil in the US, due to US military expenditures and conflicts in the past decade or so, is close to 20%. When re-adjusted to reflect the share of this oil in the US total consumption, the number is reduced to a little over 2% for each ICE mile driven, regardless of petroleum source.

This study is a great start, but I think their calculation framework is wrong. Oil is not an American commodity, it is a global one. For example, when ongoing disruption in the Middle East due to the Iraq war caused an irreversible rise in world oil prices, it made tar sands and fracked shale oil more economically feasible. These sources carry a far higher GHG overhead, currently estimated at >40%. And the US, while being far and away the biggest military energy spender around Middle Eastern oil, is not the only one: the militarization of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya and even a substantial part of Israel's military expenditures can be attributed to oil. And we haven't even counted the GHG associated with the tonnage of sheer destruction and the energy required to rebuild; the GHG cost of displacing and disrupting millions of human lives; etc.

Given that Middle Eastern oil accounts for ~30% of current production and ~50% of global reserves, I'd say that a 5%-10% overall global GHG overhead due to instability and disruption there and elsewhere (e.g., Nigeria or parts of the Amazon) is probably in the right ballpark.

And again, we haven't yet counted the GHG impact of oil disasters and subsequent cleaning and rehabilitation overhead: Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, Lac Megantic, and oil spills great and small...  I'd say we can safely assume 7% overhead or more for Oil's global problems combined.

4. Finally Putting it All Together



Ok, the final numbers. This is not a scientific article, but I've compiled and integrated a lot of information, and the numbers below represent the most likely footprint ranges IMHO, according to state-of-the-science knowledge.

Final reality check

Assuming:

  • The lower estimates of EV battery footprint are more reliable, but we'll allow for something towards the middle (i.e., 5-12 kgCO2/kg-battery)
  • EV drivers charge roughly half their overall needs during off-peak hours
  • Compact EV battery packs last on average at least 60k miles, and Tesla S at least 100k miles
  • A 5% reduction in average electric-grid footprint over the life of the first battery-pack
  • A GHG overhead of 7% per ICE mile driven (not accounted for in conventional analysis) driven should be added, due to all Global Oil Troubles combined - military, conflicts, spills, disasters, etc.

We arrive at these ball-park figures:

 - A 2013-2014 compact electric-only EV takes 8-10 tons CO2 to make. Thereafter, it emits 150-200 gCO2/mile in fossil-based grids, and 50-100 gCO2/mile in renewable-dominated grids.
 - A 2013-2014 compact ICE hybrid takes 7-7.5 tons CO2 to make, and later consumes 270-350 gCO2/mile.
 - A 2013-2014 compact non-hybrid ICE car takes 7-8 tons CO2 to make, and consumes 400-500 gCO2/mile.


After 60k miles, we have:


 
A compact pure EV 11-21 tons CO2
A compact plug-in/extended-range hybrid EV driving 2/3 of its miles as an EV and the rest on gas (the current reported Chevy Volt average) 15-24 tons CO2
A compact ICE hybrid (non-plug Prius, etc.) 23-28 tons CO2
A compact non-hybrid ICE   31-38 tons CO2

Even if we assume an inevitable battery-pack replacement to the EV around 60k miles, its GHG debt will be smaller than the original due to the technology being more mature, and it will be recovered faster on average because the grid will be cleaner 60k miles from now. Conversely, while an ICE car is likely to survive well beyond 60k miles, its life beyond 60k miles is likely to be characterized by lower fuel efficiency and increased GHG overhead due to more frequent repairs.

On the Tesla segment, we have over the course of 100k miles (b/c Tesla's battery-pack life is demonstrably longer)


 
60 KWh Tesla Model S  16-35 tons CO2
85 KWh Tesla Model S 18-40 tons CO2
The most efficient luxury ICE hybrid (Lexus ES 300h)  40-45 tons CO2
Non-hybrid luxury ICE cars (20-25 MPG)  60-75 tons CO2
So there you have it: from a GHG perspective, the first generation of mass-market EVs, despite the technology being far from optimized, is already greener than anything the ICE world has to offer.

That said, even the best of compact EVs with the best current grid emits nearly 2 tons CO2/year on average, mostly due to production emissions. 2 tons is the global target for an entire family's emissions if we want to stop global warming. Clearly, as said above, if one can get around without a car, and rent an energy-efficient one on the few occasions it is needed, then these tons are mostly saved. But for the vast majority of American families that still need a car to go about their daily errands, EVs as a major category appear to be the cleanest choice.

Moreover, given the multiple nearly-certain improvement paths such as:
- The grid will continue improving, and grid improvement affect both EVs' ongoing-use footprint and its manufacturing footprint (the factories, after all, use electricity)
- Battery-pack life will continue improving, meaning we'll be able to amortize the battery-production footprint over more years
- Battery material will eventually be recycled
- MPGe will continue improving

There's reason to hope that within a decade we'll be able to see EVs whose average annual life-cycle footprint is well under 1 ton CO2/year. ICE vehicles are not likely to come close to this.

I end with tentative answers to a few related questions.

Suppose you drive an old ICE wreck. Should you run it until it breaks, or get a new compact EV instead?
It will depend upon your specific circumstances, but just getting an EV alongside your wreck for everything except road trips, might "pay back" the GHG footprint of the new EV's production thanks to the ongoing-use emission savings, within 10k-20k miles or so. This is pretty similar to the situation we faced a year ago; except that our wreck was about to simply die, had we continued to burden it with all our in-city driving. As a road-trip-only car it is surviving pretty nicely, touch rust :)

What about the EV + solar installation, popular among EV drivers? The connection might be more psychological than physical. It is a nice feeling to add an equivalent amount of produced clean energy, to the increased demand from your EV. However, rooftop PV systems are grid-connected as a rule. They supply the grid in daytime, whereas EVs charge at nighttime. In terms of sheer capacity, the US grid as a whole has plenty of room for many, many more EVs - 150 million of them. There might be local bottlenecks in EV-heavy regions, esp. if the desirable charging behavior is not encouraged, but I'm not sure PVs are what will be needed to mitigate them. In short, I suggest to separate the two decisions. If both an EV and a PV system makes environmental sense in your home and you can afford both - great. If only one is more sensible, choose that one (here in Seattle, I argue it's an EV, b/c Seattle City Light already has excess green energy in the summer that it cannot always sell; in Phoenix AZ, Ground Zero of the "wilting Leaf" capacity-loss problem and blessed with eternal sunshine, solar makes way more sense than most EVs).

Last but not least.... why the differences between published LCAs? And why are my numbers slightly better for EVs than the best of them?

As said above, the Devil is in the details. The two most publicized EV-skeptic analyses used the inflated battery-production overhead now debunked by Dunn et al. They also assumed no grid improvements during the EV's lifetime, and a peak-heavy EV charging pattern. To boot, they assume that the global Oil Troubles, precisely those which have given Oil its bad name, carry with them a zero GHG footprint. All 4 assumptions are demonstrably false.

The EPA report uses a lower and more realistic battery-production estimate, and (as far as I could tell) includes some allowance for grid improvements. The article text indicates that some sort of charging-scenario analysis was also applied, although a more complicated one than the simple halving of coal's effective footprint as I did here (my halving was also based on a published report).

No LCA to date has penalized ICE cars for Oil Troubles. I decided to tack on a fairly modest 7% ICE overhead, based on the little published research into the issue that I managed to find.

As the numbers suggest, this additional overhead is not the decisive factor. But it is a nice and well-deserved ICEing on the cake of EVs' overall footprint superiority (har har).

On the next diary I plan to deal with other environmental and social-environmental questions related to EVs.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks, SciTech, and Good News.

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  •  Tip Jar (162+ / 0-)
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  •  Thank you for stressing the bare science (24+ / 0-)

    If people did this more often, we could have more productive discussions on these types of issues.

    •  I think we are fortunate that there are a lot of (15+ / 0-)

      science-based diaries here. I have learned a lot from reading them over the years.

      But as you say, some of the more controversial topics could definitely use an injection of hard data from scientific sources.

      •  Is a little constructive criticism okay? (7+ / 0-)

        I hope you don't take this personally.

        But could you beat around the bush any more?  I had to press pagedown 8 times to get to the actual point of your diary (#2).  An this pattern didn't improve any with reading on.  Concice is better.  Only people who already agree with you are likely to wade through so much.

        This is constructive criticism, as I strongly agree with your primary point.  

        Now, for some specific criticisms.

        MPGe is BS.  Because electricity is already a form of energy not subject to Carnot's law while gasoline is in a form subject to Carnot's law.  To make electricity from fuel, for example, you throw away 50-70% of the fuel's energy as heat, primarily due to Carnot losses.  You don't have to do this again when you turn the electric energy to kinetic.  Gasoline still has to throw away energy as heat due to Carnot losses.  It's a loaded comparison.

        There are many reasons why EVs are better even when the raw energy source is a fuel, mind you.  But that doesn't makk MPGe not be a loaded comparison.

        Your numbers based on current grid are not directly applicable to EVs.  EVs charge on incremental grid power.  So for example your Pacific Northwest power would not be hydro, but NG and nuclear.  You can't make more water run through the rivers so you can't get more from the dams on a long-term basis.  In fact, the Pacific Northwest is the one region in the US which doesn't have enough generation capacity for a mass switchover to EVs, and which would need a great deal of new power plant construction (most regions have enough spare capacity because EVs primarily charge at night when demand is lowest)

        Again, that doesn't change the fact that EVs are lower impact than gasoline vehicles.  It's just that your comparison is faulty.

        The waste biodiesel thing is a red herring.  I mean, it's great for the tiny percent of the market that can use it, but there's just not remotely nearly enough for any sort of mass conversion.

        You vastly overstate the impact of spinning standby on coal plants.  It makes up a couple percent of US grid generation on average.  Any sort of reasonable EV conversion cannot run purely on spinning standby.  Theres some other inefficiencies that EVs help improve, such as reducing the high startup/shutdown losses on peaking plants.  But again, the impact isn't nearly what you present.

        The overwhelming majority of Americans are not rewarded for off-peak charging.  That can, should, and most likely will change.  But it's not the case right now.

        "most current analyses of EV's footprint don't incorporate any assumption about EV charging patterns" - This statement is not at all in line with the studies I've read.  In fact, I've not read a single one which doesn't take timing into account.  I'm sure there must be some out there, but I haven't run into them.

        Anyway, thanks anyway for writing about this.  And on the bright side from my side of the pond: my boss just informed me today that they just finished installing EV charging stations in the parking lot of my workplace.  Yeay!  I can now plug in my converted Insight  :)  Here in Iceland the primary grid is only geo and hydro - fossil fuels are only used in very small amounts for generators in remote locations.  Ẃhile the country as a whole is roughly 70% hydro / 30% geo as far as electricity is concerned, Reykjavík is pretty far from the main hydro resources and sitting on top of the geo, so most new generation infrastructure will be geo (the biggest hydro is mainly used for aluminum smelting)

        Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

        by Rei on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:59:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some answers. (0+ / 0-)

          As to the length, there was a lot of ground to cover and a lot of confusion and misunderstanding that I've seen on this site and elsewhere regarding footprint analysis. So I chose a long - but structured and much more visually friendly than my usual text-only diaries - approach to the issue. So it can be used as a resource.

          You apparently are more initiated into the subject than most readers. Great!

          There are some regions in the US (and many more in Europe) that are predominantly coal. I am not a coal-plant expert, but didn't read anywhere that they can turn their plants off or dial them down at night. But maybe I'm wrong on that - I've searched high and low and how the things are operated almost seems like a trade secret.

          What I did read is quite a few references to the fact that there's plenty of excess off-peak coal capacity to power many EVs. Since coal will eventually (hopefully) phase out here, how much such capacity exists is a bit of a moot point.

          As to the Pacific NW, wind installation is rapidly increasing here, and the solar potential east of the mountains is almost as good as California. I am not worried about EVs overwhelming the grid here.

          MPGe is not BS. Yes, if you compare fossil-based EV to ICE you end up in the same ball park b/c eventually both convert fossil energy to motor travel. But EVs can charge off something else (as you in Iceland should know).

          No matter how you spin it, EVs show that you can operate a perfectly good car with far less energy than ICE.

          The much-discussed analysis by your neighbors in Troondheim, Hawkins et al., makes no mention of charging timing at all. Just a flat calculation of the grid GHG over the vehicle efficiency. It is linked in the diary. The Climate Central analysts also chose not to incorporate it - I had an email conversation with them, and they said they didn't want to "make assumptions". As if their analysis didn't make assumptions. You always do - otherwise you can't even start.

          Those are the two most famous and most widely-discussed LCAs, at least in the American press. The more EV-friendly ones from UCS and the EPA were also less highlighted. Maybe in Europe the situation is different.

          Enjoy your at-work charging. Indeed this is the next big step in helping mainstream the EV.

          •  Re (0+ / 0-)

            If you don't want to take the criticism that people aren't going to page down eight pages to get to your actual point, that's your own problem.

            As stated, spinning standby (aka, burning fuel without generating power) only makes up a couple percent of the US grid, generally in the 1-3% range.  Most standby is not spinning.  Your claim that one can largely charge EVs on standby is wrong.  Please just take the criticism and move on.

            "What I did read is quite a few references to the fact that there's plenty of excess off-peak coal capacity to power many EVs. "  There is.  It's overwhelmingly not spinning standby.  Overwhelmingly, it is not sitting around burning coal when not generating.

            "As to the Pacific NW, wind installation is rapidly increasing here, and the solar potential east of the mountains is almost as good as California. I am not worried about EVs overwhelming the grid here."

            EVs will not overwhelm generation anywhere.  Actually, that's part of the sad reality, that EV adoption is going, and will likely continue to be, pathetically slow  :(  And even if everyone was totally sold on EVs today, it woud still take decades just from a production and gas-vehicle-phase-out perspective.

            BTW, even if EVs could suddenly magically flood the market, by and large the biggest problems would not be generation.  They'd be neighborhood distribution grids.  There's been a number of studies on this.

            Backing up, how fast power is added to the pacific northwest is not the issue.  The issue is that you were talking about what power is currently in place as though that's the sort of power that you start consuming by using your EV.  But of course that's not the case.  You're not actually charging your EV on hydro.  You're charging it on NG, since that's the predominant source for peaking.  NG is the fastest growing component of the pacific northwest mix (the US mix as a whole), so that also represents the dominant factor in the future for your EV.

            Yes, MPGe is BS, and I explicitly explained why.  MPGe numbers for EVs are post-Carnot losses while conventional MPG figures arae pre-Carnot lossess.  This is a huge and unjustifiable bias.  If you have a vehicle that gets 130MPGe, you cannot run for 130 miles by putting a gallon of gasoline or diesel into a generator.  You could get maybe 40 miles out of it.  You're burning a lot more fuel in fuel-cycle power plants than that number suggests (and correspondingly more heat-energy from all heat-source power plants - nuclear, solar thermal, etc).  The post-Carnot figure is a huge bias.

            Again, I'm not disputing that EVs are more efficient than ICEs, as was stated in my original post.  I'm simply pointing out that many of your claims and arguments are wrong.  Please accept this and then move on rather than getting defensive.

            On the current US grid, a mass conversion of the fleet to EVs would result in about 30% reduction in CO2 emissions, a significant increase in PM, a small increase on SOx (it'd be more, but power plants are capped and would have to add new scrubbers), a small decrease in NOx, and major decreases (near elimination) of VOCs and CO).  On the plus-side all of these emissions would tend to be released at altitude in less densely populated areas versus regular auto emissions.

            Here's one thing you're probably going to get all defensive about, but it's also true: today's hybrids are at least as CO2-efficient as current EVs on the US grid, and most likely more efficient.  Conventional ICE vehicles average about 20% efficiency in a typical drivecycle; the ~35% efficiency of a typical full-hybrid tends to edge out EVs on a CO2 perspective in the US grid after all losses are considered.  Now, that will likely change in the future (grid electricity production is getting cleaner while oil production is getting dirtier, and there's no realistic probability of a turnaround in either of these trends), but as it stands, it's a valid criticism.  

            Again, please don't instinctively lash out.  Accept the criticism and move on.

            Lastly, I was talking about studies of the US grid.  The one you linked is for the EU grid (which, I should add, isn't as timing-sensitive, due to its higher share of hydro and nuclear and lower share of coal).  And also as I said, I don't doubt that there are studies out there that haven't taken timing into account - I just haven't seen them.  So your claim that taking timing into account is something new is simply wrong.

            Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

            by Rei on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 11:58:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I am ending this conversation now. (0+ / 0-)

              I suggest you refresh yourself on site rules. It is my diary, hence my "living room", to use the analogy offered by Kos. You cannot spray crap on the living-room carpet, then complain that it stinks.

              You have written now maybe 2,000 words in 2 comments. Despite your condescending and aggressive tone, I have responded patiently and politely to the claims in your first comment.

              But apparently since my response was not "yes, your highness Rei, thank you for generously correcting all my errors" - you are the one who becomes offended... while not letting go of the unearned condescension even for a single second.

              Small note: you didn't provide a single link to back up your various "corrections", lectures and over-confident assertions which you expect me to accept at face value. For one small example, I happen to know the mix here in Seattle. Just over the past year hydro has increased from 87% to 90% and wind from 3% to 4%. Natural gas is not a player here and is unlikely to become one (it is included with all "others" at 0.6%). I am not "charging my EV on NG", no matter how many times Mr. Rei will write it in his comments.

              And now it turns out, that you haven't really bothered to read the diary at all. You lecture me how ICE hybrids are more CO2-efficient than EVs, an assertion which I spent thousands of words with documents, links and calculations to examine and eventually refute.

              Words which you haven't read: after all, you complain twice about having to do 8 "page-downs" right over the content, on your way to the fun place where you get to trash the diary and its author.

              Apparently, no matter how many disclaimers the author starts the diary with in order to discourage negative behavior - there will always arrive someone who manages to ignore it all and shit right on the living-room carpet.

              Have a great evening! You did it!

              •  I suggest that *you* refresh *yourself* (0+ / 0-)

                on the site rules.  

                C. WILL NOT ALLOW

                1. Debate-free zones.
                 Some users have asked about the ability to declare their diary off-limits to their detractors, so that they can discuss a topic without having opponents intrude. This would apply to internally contentious issues like Israel-Palestine, Snowden-NSA, and guns. Or primaries where the community is divided among the contenders.

                !

                And I'm not even a detractor; I'm an EV supporter, for crying out loud.  I'm just trying to stop you from repeating misinformation and for making your diaries so incomprehensibly long that nobody who disagrees with you will ever read them.

                Criticism is not "aggressive".  It is something that anyone who wants to be taken seriously when entering into a debate on a technical topic needs to be able to leran how to accept.  You can't take even the slighest amount of criticism, and hence, you have no business writing about a contentious issue.  Heck, I pussyfooted around in my first post and you still took it personally and lashed out.

                Grow A Thicker Skin If You Want To Write Things Publicly.

                Small note: you didn't provide a single link to back up your various "corrections", lectures and over-confident assertions which you expect me to accept at face value
                You know that instead of getting all huffy and defensive, the proper response is to ask for a link, right?
                For one small example, I happen to know the mix here in Seattle. Just over the past year hydro has increased from 87% to 90% and wind from 3% to 4%. Natural gas is not a player here and is unlikely to become one (it is included with all "others" at 0.6%)
                Sorry, but that's not how power works.  You're talking about in-state generation.  What matters is consumption.  Generation gets shared between states.  Washington consumers import coal and NG power from out of state during peak times.  But hey, even if you want to talk about production, NG is still a relevant component, and hydro's share has been falling in a long-term basis.  In 1996, hydro made up 86.9% of the Washington generation mix. In 2000, it was 81.9.  In 2010, 69.3.    And yes, wind is a pathetically tiny part of the Washington grid, and NG is the fastest growing component, rising from 3.7% to 9.3% in the course of ten years.

                All of this would be patently obvious to anyone who knew anything about US power generation, or even took half a second to think about it.  There's not been a single large dam (>1GW) built in Washington since the 1970s.  Grand Coulee alone makes up a quarter of Washington's hydropower, and that's been around since 1942 (with additional powerplants to better exploit seasonality in the 1970s).  Where are these giant untapped rivers that Washington is supposedly using to make new hydropower?

                So after all your defensiveness and huffing, this is where we're left.  Learn to accept criticism and move on.

                ( Oh, and note that I said "Pacific Northwest", and not Washington in particular.  The Pacific Northwest as a whole is much more coal and NG-focused than Washington state itself is.)

                no matter how many times Mr. Rei will write it in his comments.

                Thank you. Mrs. Assaf.

                And now it turns out, that you haven't really bothered to read the diary at all. You lecture me how ICE hybrids are more CO2-efficient than EVs,
                Except that that's the likewise conclusion of numerous studies and you do not refute it, you simply assert that it's refuted, bringing up your bogus MPGe comparisons and/or arguments about specific areas with specific generation mixes, not the US as a whole, and your stupid and utterly wrong spinning standby coal plant argument. The one place where you give a link supposedly directly "supporting" your claim (Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways: A Research Summary for Decision Makers), it doesn't say that at all.  P.162 has a table of how different studies rank PHEVs compared to EVs (aka, part of the energy from the grid versus all of it).  The figures are approximately the same, although there's a great deal of variation from study to study.  More studies show slightly better PHEV numbers than "hybrid" numbers, but then they state:
                For HEVs, most studies typically estimate reductions of around 30 percent, although one study estimates a reduction of around 45 percent
                30% is not a "full hybrid", which is what I stated for comparison purposes.  Even 45% is a low figure for a full hybrid.  The Prius, for example, is a 5-passenger car with passenger room and performance stats similar to a baseline Honda Civic.  The Prius is rated for 50mpg.  The Civic is rated for 31mpg.  That's a 61% improvement.  

                Okay, think that's biased because of, say, perhaps, differences in streamlining?  Then let's compare two exactly identical vehicles with the only difference being the addition of a full hybrid system.  Since Toyota has the best full hybrid system (IMHO), we'll go with them - how about the Highlander?  Hybrid highlander: 28mpg.  Non-hybrid highlander: 19mpg.  Improvement: 47%.

                Want more?  Avalon hybrid, 40; most efficient Avalon non-hybrid: 24.  Difference? 66%.  Camry hybrid: 41.  Most efficient camry non-hybrid: 28.  Difference: 46%.  I can keep going if you want.  Even the best assumption on hybrid performance is worst that the worst result you get from using Toyota's synergy drive in place of an equivalent (or worse) performance ICE powerplant.

                In the real world, with a proper full hybrid system, hybrids outperform EVs.  It's simply a fact.  Toyota's Synergy drive boosts mpg 45-65%.  With numbers like that, EVs on the average incremental US grid are easily beaten on a CO2 comparison.

                But, as stated, that's on the current grid.  Oil is getting dirtier.  The grid is getting cleaner.  It will not remain this way forever.  Which I pointed out.  I was helping you defend your point.  But because it was criticism, oh heavens no, you can't have that!

                For god's sake, you're getting mad at a person who's such an EV supporter that she drives a home-converted PHEV.

                Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

                by Rei on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 03:15:34 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Okay, I'll ask (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  waiting for lefty

                  I am an interested but not knowledgable reader of these, with enough background to be comfortable with the terminology.

                  Would you please provide the links to sources for your statements that disagree with the diarist?

                  I would like to try to read sources from both of you, and cross-check with other experts.

                  Thank you.

                  We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

                  by Urban Owl on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 01:42:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Well done, Assaf... (14+ / 0-)

    I'll need to re-read this several times before I can digest it all, but on first take it seems very, very well done. Kudos!

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:30:41 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant analysis (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for all the research and number crunching.

  •  The really simple part (21+ / 0-)

    Is that, regardless of how clean the source of electricity, electric motors are, pound for pound and power unit for power unit, fundamentally more efficient than ICEs.

    So much so, that short of running on hydrogen produced by solar, it's hopeless for ICEs to compete with EV in the long run.

    And the better battery technology gets, and the cleaner the source power, the better it gets.

    •  It's amazing how many people... (9+ / 0-)

      ...don't "get" this particular factor.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:59:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You make a great point with the hydrogen (11+ / 0-)
      short of running on hydrogen produced by solar
      As you obviously know, but it is worth point out to others, almost all hydrogen is produced from natural gas or petroleum in a very energy intensive process.  For all the hoopla about hydrogen fuel cells themselves, the ugly truth about hydrogen is that it is a very inefficient and dirty fuel when you consider its full lifecycle, regardless of how seductive the concept of hydrogen fuel cells is.  EVs remain the greenest option for motorized personal transportation.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

      by bigtimecynic on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:09:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigtimecynic, oceanview, KenBee

        Solar powered hydrogen reactors such as advocated by Honda don't use hydrocarbons but are expensive and not very efficient yet.

        The one argument for hydrogen ICEs is power storage density (verses batteries) but so far the total cost is far above EV (which is declining) so I personally don't see hydrogen being that viable. But if you need longer range and the hydrogen was generated by solar, there is a technical argument.

      •  You are correct, but Iceland cracks hydrogen from (5+ / 0-)

        water, because they have an abundance of hydro and geothermal electricity. Prior to the global economic crisis, they ran three fuel-cell buses and a dozen cars on hydrogen gas in an experimental program.

        The limited range of EV's sparked Iceland's original interest in HPV. Improving battery tech may solve that problem for them, but they remain very interested in alternative fuels for their fishing fleet.

        H-gas isn't dense enough to keep a ship at sea for days or weeks. Liquid-H is difficult, but they're looking at synthesizing methanol with hydrogen squeezed out of water and CO2 captured from geothermal vents or even carbon monoxide from industrial processes.

        Methanol fuel cells emit CO2 rather than H2O, but it wouldn't be "fossil" CO2.

        Iceland is a unique case, but in a theoretical future with abundant green electricity, Hydrogen fuel cells might be preferred over batteries for some applications, like powering aircraft.

        For now, EV's are the best solution to our immediate transportation needs.

        “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
        he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

        by jjohnjj on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:26:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You for posting (7+ / 0-)

    I have T&R this post, at this time I could only read the first part of it. I have hot listed this post & will read the rest asap.

    So far it's very interesting & has a ton of info.

    Thanks again for posting !

  •  Here in northern Appalachia I have seen Volts (20+ / 0-)

    driven by conservatives, some with bumper stickers that say "Powered by American Coal" or similar statements.  The way to turn a conservative around on the electric car argument is to simply say:

    "Would you rather power your car with Saudi Arabian petroleum, or with American electricity?"
    Don't discuss carbon footprint, don't discuss environmental aspects.  Know your audience and tailor your message accordingly.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:01:16 AM PDT

  •  Deniers will deny; (11+ / 0-)

    I was in a conversation about a wonderful vehicle, the ELF tricycle/electric hybrid. http://www.organictransit.com/

    It gets about 1800MPGe, and is very interesting, if somewhat limited in application, depending on your location, etc. Well on the on-line discussion, some denier made the tired claim that it was simply moving the CO2 from the vehicle to the coal fired plant. He totally ignored the 1800MPGe, which is pretty impressive, and the fact that it also has a solar panel installed, which can recharge the battery while you are at work, so it will then get you home without any CO2 use.

    Sorry if this seems like an ad, it really isn't, though I think this vehicle deserves some attention. It's just a comment and appreciation of the diary, and how lack of hard data makes discussion frustrating.

  •  Seattle is an excellent example (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, marathon, Nowhere Man

    regarding "green" electricity.  There is no "surplus" hydro power in Seattle.  The relatively small number of EVs presently in use have minor impact on the system, especially since they typically (as you note) charge at night and so do not strain grid capacity (the grid itself is underutilized at night).

    However . . . and it's a very big "however" . . . they still use hydro "fuel", the kinetic energy stored in elevated water.  They drain the reservoirs just the same, day or night.  And that "stored energy" is itself limited . . . there will be no "new" hydro power for Seattle.  So as EV utilization in the Seattle area grows the energy needed (on top of existing demand) will have to come from somewhere.  At that point how "clean" an electric car in Seattle is will be determined by how "clean" the new energy source is, and the only reasonable way to allocate the cost, "green" and otherwise, is to charge the new use to the new source, not to existing hydro.

    It still produces a relatively favorable comparison . . . since the existing hydro system allows demand shifting to whatever is available hydro output can be reduced when other sources are available and increased when needed.  But the "green charge" to EVs still has to be based on the footprint of the "new" sources necessary to provide for them.

    This applies everywhere, of course . . . in all cases one can evaluate the "green" impact of a significant adoption of EVs only in the context of new demand in a system already running at or close to capacity.  In Seattle the new power required faces a situation quite favorable to intermittent sources (solar, wind) because existing hydro is essentially "free" pumped storage.  This advantage applies almost nowhere else in the Country.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:19:47 AM PDT

    •  Not sure you are write about intermittent (6+ / 0-)

      uniqueness of Seattle.

      AFAIK, natural gas is also load-following, so intermittent sources available mostly during the day can easily save up emissions in natural-gas-dominated systems.

      Or perhaps I misunderstood your comment.

      One problem with solar in Seattle is that its seasonal peak almost perfectly coincides with the seasonal supply of hydro power. City Light needs to buy energy, some of it fossil, in November-March.

      Solar still has a positive GHG ROI even in Seattle (I made that literature search, too ;). But at present I'd prefer the available solar capacity installed elsewhere. Even just to get the WA state incentives for solar, it makes far more sense to place them in the economically challenged Eastern WA, where they will also produce 60% more juice over a longer season.

      In particular, if anyone strikes a partnership that will put Western Washington $$ for solar installations east of the mountains, in the hands of native-run Yakama Power which is committed to clean power and fighting an uphill battle against fossil/nukes provided from Tri-Cities, they will deserve a national prize in my books.

      •  Oops. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, Assaf

        That's just not write.

        But what a great diary.  I read every word.

        Now if only your objectiveness and thoroughness would show up in a different place.  Like among politicians - especially Republicans.

        I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

        by tle on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:10:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fascinating! Thanks so much. Republished. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot, StrayCat, Larsstephens



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:25:56 AM PDT

  •  Volt: PHEV or EREV? (5+ / 0-)

    I thought the Volt was an EREV. The article lists it as a PHEV.

    Thanks for the article.

    •  U know what? You might be right. (5+ / 0-)

      Funny, no one ever regards it as an EREV in common discourse, but the official description suggests that indeed the ICE powers a range-extender rather than the drivetrain itself.

      I will double-check and then correct.

      Thanks!

      •  Well, Morgan was correct that the Volt is an (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        davehouck, orlbucfan, KenBee, Larsstephens

        EREV but your correction to your diary actually isn't quite cright.   Based on Morgan's comment and your research you end up saying "the Chevy Volt, whose gas motor can only be used as a generator to recharge its battery, but not to directly drive the car".   Unfortunately, that is not technically true.

        GM had an engineering decision between whether or not to make it a "pure" EV and never have the power from the ICE contribute to propelling the car or to occasionally use the power from the ICE to move the car.  In the end, the "purists" lost and the people who were more concerned about efficiency won.  Hence, there are apparently 7 scenarios where it is more efficient to have the ICE provide some power to the drivetrain to move the car instead of merely generating electricity for the battery to then move the car.  The most well known scenario is when you have depleted your battery (gone into CS (Charge sustaining mode) and you are travelling faster than 70 mph.  

        See this article for confirmation of the 70 mph scenario:
        http://www.motortrend.com/...

        I'm not sure if all of the other 6 scenarios have been disclosed by GM but the fact that there are 7 scenarios where the engine does move the car was mentioned in the book that was given to a lot of the early buyers (including myself).  Unfortunately, I'm on business travel and don't have the book handy to quote it.

        Anyway, I've been following the Volt since 2008, put my name on a waiting list in October 2010 and finally had it delivered in March 2011.  I absolutely love it and I just want to slightly correct the record in regards to if/when the ICE powers movement on the car.

        Look forward to reading the rest of the diary as I had to stop once I saw this small error.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:07:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And just to clarify my comment (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          this doesn't mean that the Volt is a glamorized hybrid.  The ICE still will be acting as a generator to sustain the battery which then provides the power to move the car.  But there are 7 times where it is more efficient for the engine to assist the battery powered electric motors to propel the car.  But, to be clear, the Volt's ICE never solely powers the movement of the Volt the way other hybrids do.

          We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

          by theotherside on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:23:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry! 7 No Tengo (0+ / 0-)

            Seeing as how there are only 4 operational modes:

            1. Single motor electric - The primary motor runs solely on battery power, maximum propulsion power is 111 kW.

            2. Dual motor electric - At speeds above 30MPH when power levels are low, the secondary motor engages over the planetary gear such that it reduces the speed of the primary motor. This facilitates higher efficiency and better mileage for the combined system, without increasing the maximum power, in fact this mode is limited to the power level of the smaller motor.

            3. Single motor extended - The battery reaches its minimum charge which triggers the combustion engine. The engine drives the secondary motor which now works as a generator, via the charging electronics, to keep the minimum battery charge level. The primary motor can still provide its 111 kW for acceleration.

            4. Dual motor extended - The electric motors are used again in dual configuration with increased efficiency at low power levels. However the smaller motor is generating the electricity for the main motor, so the gasoline engine contributes the torque to both spin the generator AND reduce the RPM of the main motor via the planetary gear.

            Notice there is only one scenario where the ICE contributes torque to "driving the wheels".

            1-4 adapted from the Wikipedia page on the Volt. Even that article has errors. Amazing how some misconceptions just keep on keeping on.

            Reducing Oil Imports One Volt at a time.

            by Volt3930 on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 06:17:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  via what? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          a mechanical/hydraulic or electricity from the generator  bypassing the batteries?

          unclear your explanation is...to me anyway...:>

          and why would GM 'hide' that info?

          This machine kills Fascists.

          by KenBee on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 02:21:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not a gear head at all (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee, out of left field

            and so I don't know if I can accurately answer your question on how this is done.  I do know that they have a planetary gear system that has three clutches but exactly how the ICE and electric motors interact to allow the ICE to assist with propulsion is beyond my ability to explain.  You may try the wikipedia entry and go down to the drivetrain section here to get you started:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            It's also worth noting that the Volt was the Gold medalist winner of the 2011 Edison award for top innovation and so it's not surprising that it's difficult for a non-technical person to explain.

            As for why GM would be willing to "hide" the knowledge, I have an educated guess.   We are coming up on 3 years since the Volt was released and there still isn't an EV/EREV/PHEV that approaches the technological advances that the Volt represents.  The plug-in Prius is a pale imitation due to it's small battery and the need to turn the engine on at about 60 mph (the Volt can go up to 100 mph all electric) and the BMW i3, while promising, is mostly an EV with a generator as an after thought.  GM (well Lutz and Lauckner, the two main GM proponents that brought the concept of the Volt to life) wanted to show their engineering prowess to combat the rave reviews that the Tesla Roadster was receiving.  If they released all 7 scenarios that it was more efficient to engage the ICE to help power the wheels, it may give competitors information that would require them to spend millions of dollars to discover on their own.

            That's a long winded way of saying that, in the extremely competitive market place that is the car industry, GM was extraordinarily open in releasing information about the Volt during design and production but the Volt is such a huge leap ahead that they decided to keep some things close to their vest so as not to give any advantage to their competitors.

            As an extremely satisfied Volt owner I'm happy that they made the decision to use the "extra" power from the engine to make the car more efficient and while I'm curious about the other 6 scenarios, it's not really that important to me because whether it is running on gas or battery or a little bit of both, it's all seamless to me as the driver.

            If you are truly interested in how the Volt may do this I would suggest reading gm-volt.com which has a lot of really smart people (especially the old timers) on it that can explain how the Volt works far better than me.

            We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

            by theotherside on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 04:22:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  GM doesn't exactly go out of their way. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Larsstephens

      In most of what I've read about the Volt, there seems to be intentional obfuscation from GM as to how it actually functions.

      I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

      by tle on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:14:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, Larsstephens

    For this well researched and comprehensive diary.

    I don't have time to get through it with the level of attention it deserves this morning, but will be digesting it in detail as time allows. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Thank you.

    "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." - Tom Robbins - Political Compass sez: -8.25, -7.90

    by ARS on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:37:39 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Research. Very well argued (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, Nowhere Man, Larsstephens

    But still, those are some stunning figures, even for the Electric Vehicle. I drive a hybrid, and I've given it up to ride a bus each day. I'm thinking of switching to an electric in a couple of years. It's good to see the mitigation is much more than a traditional vehicle, but I'd really like to see that number come down a lot more!

  •  Great Work!!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, davehouck, Larsstephens

    Thank you for such a great diary.  This detailed analysis is very helpful in understanding many of the variables in the EV debate....

  •  We drive bio-diesel powered (used) VWs. (6+ / 0-)

    I've had mine for ten years now...the miles are piling up, and I will have to replace it before too long.  We keep waiting for the EVs to get better, and yes, 2013 looks like a breakthrough year.  Very encouraging diary...we're still waiting, as the longer we can go between manufacturing costs, the better...provided I am still getting reasonable mileage.  I got 47 mpg in our Arizona summer (running the air conditioner), and know I can get 50 or better with cooler weather approaching.

    "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." --Townes Van Zandt

    by Bisbonian on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:49:36 AM PDT

  •  Well done!..... But....I am missing something here (14+ / 0-)

    The crux of this whole and marvelously detailed and exquisitely worked out analysis is purely based on more or less operational costs. That is to say; How many joules (related to regionally defined cost per joule) do you put into it and what is the transportation return on it.

    I get that, and I see how that it caters to the notion that EVs have been getting a bad rap from the untiring Petro-Industrial Complex and their lackeys.

    What is conspicuously missing in this, are the maintenance-costs over the lifetime of a vehicle. Those add up as well and as far as I have been able to determine, EVs have vastly fewer moving parts and miniscule required maintenance, as compared with the ICE Hybrids and pure ICE vehicles.

    To mention a few of these recurring and significant costs:
    >Oil-changes and filter-changes. EVs don't need them.
    >Transmission maintenance. EVs don't need them.
    >Braking-systems (considering/assuming that most known EVs have regenerative braking systems).
    >Ineffective mechanical belt and synchronization-chain in ICE vehicles, which require regular maintenance. EVs don't need them.
    >Emission-control maintenance. EVs have no use for them.
    >Tire-rotation. Less critical with EVs, since they are on average electronically synchronized/corrected.

    All of these, add up to quite a heap of dough, as the regularly and responsibly maintaining car-owner is painfully aware of when making the cyclical visits to service-stations, dealerships and garages.

    Okay, that were my $0,2 for today.

    There were never any good old days, they are today, they are tomorrow! It's just a stupid thing to say, cursing tomorrow with sorrow! (Eugene Hutz)

    by Kalong on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:52:24 AM PDT

    •  I just added a blurb about ICE maintenance. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, orlbucfan, Larsstephens

      Since IMHO the overall effect would be substantially smaller than EV battery replacement, I didn't include it in the final numbers.

      But you are right, typical LCAs ignore the ICE maintenance/repair issue.

      •  I saw that. Thanks! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Assaf, Larsstephens

        Also, the maintenance related impacts of ICE-hybrids and pure ICE vehicles have a significant and maybe not as easily quantifiable environmental impact, which would predictably diminish with a more broadly based switch to EVs.

        There were never any good old days, they are today, they are tomorrow! It's just a stupid thing to say, cursing tomorrow with sorrow! (Eugene Hutz)

        by Kalong on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:23:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Surely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Larsstephens

      Even regenerative braking systems require backup which needs to be checked over for pad wear etc? Agreed a lot less than conventional braking systems.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:02:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point is that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        davehouck, Larsstephens

        the pads are used much less frequently and much less intensively. They are only required when the regenerative system can't take up the energy of motion of the car as fast as you want to shed it. If you start braking well back from the point where you want to stop, you shouldn't need to engage the pads at all.

        Emergency braking is a different matter, but is a very small part of the picture.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:05:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Time Savings As Well (0+ / 0-)

      I calculated the the 10 seconds I spend each day plugging and unplugging my car adds up to a whole hour each year, ignoring the double plug weekends. Compare to the amount of time spent refueling an ICE. Plus there is an argument for "refueling" in the comfort of your garage or carport vs. whatever weather you find at the gas pump.

      I also save time vs. ICE and hybrids as I have just had my first oil change after two full years.

      BTW, even EV final drives have some sort of oil in them which must eventually be changed. For instance the Spark EV says it should have it's first oil change at 95,000 miles.

      Reducing Oil Imports One Volt at a time.

      by Volt3930 on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 11:30:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  regarding "pure energy efficiency" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    your "analysis" misses the mark by confusing energy source and energy demand.  Vehicle energy demand is pretty much determined by three factors:  drag (determined by size and shape), mass (which determines the power needed to accelerate) and rolling resistance (all the other parasitic losses).  Somewhere in there one needs to factor other secondary demands like heat and AC (and lights, and the "power" for "power steering" etc.) since those may or may not impact "overall efficiency".  Energy for vehicle heating comes at no additional cost in ICE cars, for example, but can be a major battery drain in an EV.

    Drag doesn't care what kind of motive power is installed.

    EVs typically weigh more than an otherwise equivalent ICE car because of the weight of the batteries.

    Parasitic losses, like drag, are mostly independent of motor type . . . "cooling drag" is probably best accounted in the "engine efficiency" category.

    At the bottom line, then, the "pure energy efficiency" of the carriage (glider) is independent of motor type.  The best place to make the break in comparisons such as you have made is at the axel . . . how many kilowatts/horsepower does it take to move the box down the road, on the one hand, and the well/windmill/whatever to drive shaft energy footprint on the other.  The latter is where the relative "benefits" of the different sources of motive power will be found.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 07:57:11 AM PDT

    •  Your argument is not with me - it is with EPA #s (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tle, Larsstephens

      EPA tests are the most rigorous in the world. And naturally, the test cycles includes running the car with and without the AC, heating and any other relevant peripheral.

      The tests estimate real-life energy efficiency based on a sample of real-life-like performance.

      EVs run far more miles than ICE vehicles on the same amount of energy - even with heating, A/C, and everything else included.

      This is just a measured fact. No use arguing about it; rather, I suggest to you to read a bit more and see the reality for yourself.

    •  A few issues (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrCoyle65, Assaf, orlbucfan, Larsstephens, KMc

      First, drag does care what type of motive power you use.

      EV's have essentially flat bottoms.  They don't have a gas tank or drive train hanging down adding to the vehicles wind resistance.

      Second, while EV's weigh more they also have regenerative breaking which allows them to recoup some of the energy the use to accelerate.

      Finally, all of this plus the efficiency of the power source (battery/ICE) and drive train (transmission/electric motor) can be figured empirically.  It is far easier to simply measure how much energy is actually used over a given number of miles with different conditions to come up with an overall efficiency than it is to try to do so theoretically.  This is what the EPA does when they measure MPG and MPGe.  

      The result is that EV's are vastly more efficient than ICE's.  

      "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

      by Quanta on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:47:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  About to lease a Leaf (6+ / 0-)

    Once I verify I can install a charger to my detached garage I'm going to lease a Leaf. The deals right now are amazing and with the battery technology improving fast I don't think I want to buy right now.

    The reason the leases are so cheap is that the manufacturer gets the $7500 tax credit as soon as the lease is initiated. Nissan is using that to keep payments low. The Leaf drives as well or better than my Jetta TDI which I've run on biodiesel since 2003.

    I hope never to buy another ICE vehicle.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:18:41 AM PDT

    •  We love ours after a year. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, BeerNotWar

      Dynamite car to drive.  One funny aspect is that the Leaf is my wife's car.  She's is a pretty major luddite - uncomfortable with most new technology - while the Leaf has been described as a "smart phone on wheels".  It can do a whole lot of fun tricks that she has absolutely no interest in learning how to do.  Just turn it on and point it and go, is pretty much her style.  Setting the charge timer is about her limit.  Watching the salesman try to describe the workings of the nav. system etc. to her was fairly entertaining.

      "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

      by Chico David RN on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 03:03:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There will be a tipping point (0+ / 0-)

        when people realize that EV's are just easier to use. Once their simplicity of use, limited maintenance cost and overall excellence as automobiles becomes known they will rapidly go mainstream. My guess is 2015-2017 is when it's going to happen. If I was really smart I would know which EV manufacturer would reap the benefit and buy their stock, but it's hard to say which one will have the "it" car at the point when they really take off.

        There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

        by BeerNotWar on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 12:50:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How does an EV do badly on carbon emissions? (3+ / 0-)

    I've never heard anyone claim such a thing.  The biggest environmental concern about EVs is the damn batteries.

    Fracking will likely eliminate the coal industry within a decade.  And while I'm no fan of fracking, cheap natural gas will make peak-load generation for wind power dirt cheap, making it the primary bulk source (solar IMO works better at the end point, e.g. panels on your roof to reduce your grid consumption).

    •  Oh, if I had a buck for each time I saw that claim (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      I could buy you quite a few nice lunches.

    •  You are ignoring solar thermal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Larsstephens

      which works best in large installations, and by its nature includes significant energy storage capacity. Heat the working fluid in the daytime, and use it to boil water to run turbines during part of the night.

      Fracking, wind, and solar are all contributing to the demise of thermal coal, that is, coal used for heat and electricity generation. Coal will continue to be used for making steel, where the idea is to put the carbon into the alloy rather than the atmosphere.

      Goldman Sachs is very publicly advising against investing in thermal coal now. It will soon be impossible to secure funding for coal-fired power plants and coal export terminals in any form in almost every country. India and China will take longer to turn around, that is, to reach the point where they can build out enough solar and wind capacity to match demand growth. But we have heard from India that its largest coal producer is installing solar power at its mines.

      The links to the inflated claims about carbon footprints of EVs are in the Diary. So you have seen them now.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:16:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post. One correction on batteries. They (7+ / 0-)

    are warranted for 100,000 miles, not 60K, and the warranty in the case of Volt means that at 100K they will still retain 80% of their capacity.

    The real world is far better. Volts are conservatively engineered to use only the middle 65% of their capacity - they don't charge above 80 or draw below 15. We understand that Chevy has run batteries over 250,000 miles and still stayed within specs. And this weekend the first customer owned Volt just topped 100,000 miles.

    Based on the current data one can expect a Volt battery will last longer than a gas engine will need major engine work or a total rebuild. Also the list price for a Volt battery is around $3,000.

    And, the Volt is a blast to drive. Best car I've ever owned and I've owned many.

    Further, affiant sayeth not. 53959

    by Gary Norton on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:26:33 AM PDT

    •  Yup, the Volt is a super-engineered vehicle (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, Larsstephens

      in mechanical and electric terms. I was indeed surprised to read that it operates in the battery midrange - that's a far wider safety margin than Nissan took :)

      Definitely for the Volt you could amortize the battery over 100k miles or even more. I agree.

      However my generic calculation was for any compact PHEV/EREV, and some of these might have features more similar to the Leaf's.

      My only peeve with the Volt is that (like many American cars) it's the human-engineering and overall-consumer-value perspective that have been a bit lacking. Specifically, for us as a 5-person family, a 4-seater is not an option.

      Otherwise, an awesome EV.

      •  Ok, let's crunch Volt numbers for 100k miles: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        Shall we?

        Battery: 8-9 tons (it's 2/3 of the Leaf or so)

        Electric miles: 2/3 of 6-20 tons = 4-13.3 tons (lowest edge of range a bit higher b/c its MPGe is some 20% lower than Leaf's)

        ICE miles: 1/3 of 32-36 tons (37 MPG EPA) = 10.7-12 tons

        All together: roughly 23-34 tons CO2 over 100k miles, assuming a 2:1 EV:ICE mileage ratio.

        Compact ICE hybrids are extrapolated to be in the 35-45 ton range (not including any repair overhead for these first 100k miles, but assuming some efficiency degradation).

        Wow, over 100k miles the Volt is comparable to the 60 KWh Tesla, and somewhat worse on cleaner grids.

        Of course, if you drive the Volt better than 2/3 EV mileage, your footprint drops accordingly.

  •  BMS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary Norton, Larsstephens

    The initial battery management systems are proving to be better than expected. Your battery costs will need to be modified as real data comes in as the BMS appears to be extending cell life significantly.

  •  EVs make use of unused hydroelectric power... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, Assaf, Larsstephens

    Up here in the Pacific NW, the vast bulk of electrical power generation is hydropower. Of course, hydropower is generated by water spilling over a dam, through turbines. The aggravating nature of hydropower is that even with flow constriction during the nighttime hours, MORE power is generated than can be consumed. I don't have a clue as to how to quantify this factor, but I have to imagine that several million EVs charging overnight on otherwise 'wasted' spill instead of daytime power which has to be augmented by high GHG footprint power generation has to be a considerable.

    •  Eh? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Assaf, dskoe, Larsstephens

      Hydro power stations should be able to be turned on and off like a tap. It's the reason the UK National Grid uses pump-storage systems which take excess power from the grid to pump up to very large reservoirs to provide instant power to deal with the UK's unique demands. Unlike many countries, commercial breaks on the main TV channels tend to be co-ordinated and there are extra high demands at, for example just before the hour each evening when people break and make tea etc. With popular shows, several million electric kettles click on about the same time and for short periods so these stations even out the demand/supply ratio to maintain the 220v 50Hz electicity supply within the allowed limits.

      Water does not "spill over" the dam in conventional hydro power stations unless there has been sustained and heavy rain for weeks or months. If the generating station is off line, the water entering the lake simply raises the level a small amount.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:16:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are correct in the case that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Assaf, Larsstephens

        water is pumped up to a lake where the level can be raised significantly over a wide area without risk to surrounding structures. However, you cannot back up the Columbia River in this manner. Storage behind the Columbia River dams by raising the river is quite limited.

        Actually, the power is usually not generated and then spilled as heat. Depending on the designs of the dams, the turbines can be turned off and allowed to rotate freely, or the flow of water can be redirected to separate spillways.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:23:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Leaning toward a Volt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, davehouck, Larsstephens

    Or whatever's appropriate when I replace my ICE (which is when I can afford to, or not now).

    Mostly because I'd mostly use it on electric, but I want the option to make a longer trip when I need to.  It's midrange uncommon, but necessary.

    And we only have room for 2 cars in the garage...

    (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:45:29 AM PDT

  •  A few critiques from a retired utility guy. (6+ / 0-)

    First, I'm all for EVs, although where I live, they are really not yet ready for prime time in rural and back road areas. I think it will be at least several more years before that might change.

    These comments are made with the perspective that the use and impact of EVs is currently incidental and really not yet noticeable to utilities and transmission grid operators. The issue is really what happens when they become a major market force, while at the same time, electricity begins to replace liquid and fossil fuels for thermal uses (e.g. ground source heat pumps becoming prevalent.) Where I live (Vermont) it's been estimated that EVs will increase the demand for electricity by as much as 30%, which is huge.

    First: the focus solely on carbon impact of energy sources, rather than on renewable and sustainable attributes, tends to make people complacent about the total environmental impact of their energy supply sources, including nuclear and fracked natural gas. While carbon and climate change has rightly been raised to the highest level concern, the justification for renewable and sustainable energy sources originated long before (almost) anyone had ever heard of something called global warming.

     I seriously question the analysis regarding coal-dominated regions and peak/off peak charging. Off peak charging uses coal generation. The incentive that utilities give is first and foremost designed to limit the demand on the less efficient and more costly power plants. It's mostly an economic benefit. Maybe some impact on carbon, but mostly, coal is coal.

    Not everyone can plug in at night. Some people work the night shift. Some people drive enough miles, regularly or on occasion, that they require daytime charging in addition to charging at home in the middle of the night.

    But mostly, if EVs become the major market player that is hoped for, and if at the same time, more electricity demand is created by switching away from fossil fuels for thermal uses, and if everyone is given meaningful incentives for using power "off peak," this will dramatically flatten the differential between peak and off peak demand and cost. The big financial incentives for off peak will be greatly diminished. Right now, those incentives are based on actual economics.

    In other words, the people in coal country  driving EVs with "Powered by Coal" bumper stickers are correct. The transition to electricity and away from fossil fuels makes it all the more urgent that future sources of electricity really are renewable.

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:48:39 AM PDT

    •  I agree that coal must be phased out. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      orlbucfan, Larsstephens

      EVs won't stand in the way of that - and it already seems to be happening. Then we will blissfully also get rid of the "coal car" sticker, whether as a badge of pride(?!) or an epithet.

      The 30% value for EV demand assumes a 100% across-the-board EV adoption rate. No more ICE. If and when this point arrives, I'm pretty sure our descendants will be driving far fewer miles on average in their vehicles than Americans do now, and those EVs will be more efficient - so likely the 30% is a substantial overestimate.

      But that being said, I'll be happy to help my kids and grandkids figure out where to get 20%-30% more clean electricity to power their vehicles - than having them continue to burn several times more energy while driving ICE vehicles.

      As to off-peak charging. Sure, some drivers cannot charge at night. But we are talking large numbers and averages here. On average, most drivers either find it convenient to charge at night - or even must charge at night b/c their battery is depleted by night and must be full by morning.

      How to calculate off-peak coal charging footprint? Easy. If this charging doesn't change the coal-burning rate that would have been going on even if there was no charging - then the footprint is zero. As far as I understand, and those analyses (not enough of them are out there, I'm afraid) I've seen, suggest that this is what happens with standard coal plants - as long as off-peak doesn't become the new peak, and we are very far from that.

    •  Or to be more accurate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      orlbucfan, Larsstephens

      the transition to electricity and away from fossil fuels makes it all the more urgent that future sources of energy really are fossil-free.

      We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

      by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:42:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nukes must be phased out also (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, itzik shpitzik

      which you refer to here, thanks.

      "tends to make people complacent about the total environmental impact of their energy supply sources, including nuclear and fracked natural gas. "

      “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

      by ozsea1 on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 03:08:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, Larsstephens

    This is epic.

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 08:51:02 AM PDT

  •  Secondary use of "retired" battery packs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bule Betawi, Assaf, Larsstephens

    I've seen references to the idea of using "fatigued" vehicle battery packs for stationary backup power in critical facilities like hospitals, or perhaps even residential solar power systems.

    Is this just friendly speculation, or has the concept been studied by engineers?

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:22:30 AM PDT

    •  As demand for lithium climbs, that's going to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      probably be less attractive.

      The batteries will just be recycled instead of re-used.

      They won't be thrown out, though. They're way too valuable.

      "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 02:04:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think you underestimate oil's CO2 impact (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens
    [Natural gas has] a higher footprint than oil's, but only by about 1.3x.
    The baseline GHG intensity of burning oil is about 270 gCO2/KWh
    My understanding has long been that natural gas generators have about 1/2 the GHG impact of oil generators. See this table for one data point; it puts oil at 778 gCO2, while natural gas is at 443 gCO2. That jibes with what I remember reading elsewhere. (And I did say "about"  1/2. :-)

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:43:58 AM PDT

    •  Natural gas contains less carbon than oil (4+ / 0-)

      by weight (more properly, by mass) and per unit of energy produced by burning, but there is evidence that fracking and pumping operations leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere at a rate that more than offsets that difference. This is not a settled question, due to the same kinds of obfuscation we get around battery carbon footprints and so on, but it requires consideration.

      Methane leaks of shale gas may undermine its climate benefits

      Investor’s concerns lead to calls for fracking changes

      Scottish Widows Investment Partnership – which owns a 1.87 per cent stake in Shell and 2.2 per cent in BP as well as smaller holdings in Chevron, ExxonMobil and Total – called on the industry to take “rapid action” to eliminate emissions of climate-warming methane in gas production. It said methane leakage “greatly undermine[s] the attractiveness of natural gas as a fuel source”.
      You know you're in trouble when you have the Scottish Widows on your case.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:46:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        and if the leakage is not accounted for, it would certainly throw off the numbers.

        But I also understand that pumping and refining oil is very energy-intensive -- bringing a barrel of oil to market may require more than one barrel's worth of energy. A true apples-to-apples comparison also needs to take this into account. (I'm not sure if the table that I referenced factors these overheads into its figures; its description refers to the lifecycle of the power plant, not the fuel.)

        Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to dig into this any further.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:05:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, and then there's tar sands... (n/t) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:09:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Battery Materials From China (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, orlbucfan, Larsstephens

    My right wing brother in law argued that one of the factors in EV's (or maybe also hybrids) is the human cost of labor in horrible Chinese mines for the minerals needed for the batteries.  This was part of a book he claimed was written "by an environmentalist" showing that the costs of EV's or hybrids outweighs their benefits.

    Do you know what book he's referring to?

    Is there any truth to the "horrible Chinese mines" allegation?  (not that the right cares about the miners for any other reason than to make this argument).

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 09:45:41 AM PDT

  •  Great diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, davehouck, Larsstephens

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:15:52 AM PDT

  •  FYI, Nuclear Power popularity (0+ / 0-)

    dropped from 57% pre-Fukushima to 43% post after.

    A Gallup poll a year after the accident showed the numbers rebounding to 57% for 40% against nuclear as "one of the ways" to provide electricity for the US.

    The Plague, at 12%, is much less popular than nuclear power.  So you might want to update the basis for your nuclear skepticism.

    According to Wikipedia, nuclear generates 16g C02 / kWhe.  Since we're focusing on environmental impacts, nuclear is cleaner than solar.  It also causes fewer deaths than solar or wind.

    First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

    by Cream Puff on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:23:02 AM PDT

    •  lol (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Assaf, JesseCW, Larsstephens
      The Plague, at 12%, is much less popular than nuclear power.
      i like how you linked to a crazy RW blog that thinks liberals are the cause of every bad thing in the history of the world.

      thanks for making me click on that dreck.

      anyone born after the McDLT has no business stomping around acting punk rock

      by chopper on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:51:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you concerned (0+ / 0-)

        I'm skewing The Plague's popularity?  It's not easy to find links to reliable polling on the favorability of deadly diseases, y'know.

        Who cares whether the link is from a right-wing blog?  I'm not inferring anything about Pelosi and Reid from it.

        First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

        by Cream Puff on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:00:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, Larsstephens
          Who cares whether the link is from a right-wing blog?
          i do. i don't want to read that shit. i don't want to read the garbage at free republic either.

          it took 15 seconds to find a link to the actual quote in question re: bubonic plague. you could have just posted that. instead you sent us to that hole.

          anyone born after the McDLT has no business stomping around acting punk rock

          by chopper on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 01:21:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh no your eyeballs (0+ / 0-)

            it was the first hit that came up for me.  Feel free to post the original source here.  Unless you prefer to complain about other people's nasty links.

            First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

            by Cream Puff on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 05:56:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
              it was the first hit that came up for me.
              there's your problem.

              the quote is from a congressman. here it is.

              now that wasn't hard, was it? no need to visit some right-wing fever swamp full of bullshit, no giving clicks to those asshole fuckers.

              anyone born after the McDLT has no business stomping around acting punk rock

              by chopper on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 08:47:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks, but (0+ / 0-)

                I specifically googled "plague approval rating", and that congressman was only referring to congress' 12% approval being below that of the plague.

                Of course the entire idea is silly, I was just amused that someone had actually tried to poll a disease.

                As an aside, I like to read fevered swamps regularly, so I don't see the harm in it.  A few extra clicks isn't going to validate their entire existence.

                Anyhoo.

                First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

                by Cream Puff on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 12:37:24 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  You are not including uranium mining (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Larsstephens

      in your death toll.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:02:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Iron ore and coal (0+ / 0-)

        for wind turbine steel, as well as solar panel materials, need to be mined also.

        They weren't included either.  Apples to apples.

        And no, you don't get excess radiation deaths from mining uranium ore.

        First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

        by Cream Puff on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:56:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. I remember when all those miners died (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          of bone cancer from mining iron.

          "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

          by JesseCW on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 02:06:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You don't remember (0+ / 0-)

            them dying of bone cancer from mining uranium either.  

            The only specific radiation-related bone cancer risk is from strontium, which your body confuses with calcium because of their similar chemical properties.  But strontium is a fission product; it's not present in the ore in any meaningful quantities.

            There are good reasons to oppose nuclear power.  It just gets tiring to keep having to refute the same bad ones.

            First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

            by Cream Puff on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:02:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're either extremely ignorant on the (0+ / 0-)

              subject on dishonest.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

              by JesseCW on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 06:11:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The hell I am (0+ / 0-)

                For chrissakes read my comment properly.  Nowhere does your WIKIPEDIA link mention bone cancer deaths.

                Radon gas is a prevalent danger in any underground environment.  It kills people in basements.  

                The same radon gas exposure kills iron miners too.  The only thing it has in common with uranium is that they're both radioactive.  The wikipedia article did a poor job of distinguishing between real radon poisoning and imagined poisoning from radiation from uranium ore, because, among other things, it's Wikipedia.

                Did my explanation of bone cancers above not clue you in to the fact I may be a little more knowledgeable about this topc than you are?  Workers at Candu plants can handle new fuel bundles (made from processed natural ore, not like the enriched stuff used in PWRs) with their bare hands without ill effects.

                Since you threw out the civility rulebook, I'm going to suggest you brush up on your reading comprehension skills and try to avoid confirmation bias by googling keywords and immediately posting links that appear to validate your prejudices.

                First they came for the slippery-slope fallacists, and I said nothing. The End.

                by Cream Puff on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 12:29:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Yes he is (0+ / 0-)

        Says so, right in the text:

        Nuclear has the lowest deathprint, even with the worst-case Chernobyl numbers and Fukushima projections, uranium mining deaths, and using the Linear No-Treshold Dose hypothesis

        We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

        by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:45:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ah, those facts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, DrCoyle65, Larsstephens

    with their well-known reality bias.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:03:30 AM PDT

  •  Very comprehensive and interesting. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, davehouck, Larsstephens

    What a masterful job you did.  It is timely for me as I'm just beginning to contemplate some of these issues in my personal life (and I live in Seattle).  I anxiously await the next installment.  I'm not much of a numbers guy but even I could make some sense out of what you were saying in those sections where you were really crunching the numbers.  

    Posting this on the heels of our hummingbird blogathon is such a plus for environmental awareness.  Thank you so much!  Sorry I was so late to get to this.  

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:25:30 AM PDT

  •  Just finished reading; thanks very much ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, Larsstephens

    ... for this analysis.  Much appreciated.

    ______________
    Love one another

    by davehouck on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:50:16 AM PDT

  •  It's interesting to note (0+ / 0-)

    that in France, where their strongly decarbonized grid emits only 100 gCO2/kWh (i.e., at the very left of the graph above), EV's are really, really a great idea.

    Another reason to support nuclear power.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:19:52 PM PDT

  •  Chevy Volt = 100,000 mile battery warranty (4+ / 0-)

    excellent work!!!!!

  •  the storage aspect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, Assaf

    Maybe someone already said this and I missed it, but one of the reasons EVs are good is that solar and wind energy are intermittent. There has to be some way of storing the energy during peak production times for use during low production times. This is a perfect use for EV batteries. A system where you could switch empty for full batteries at a 'filling station' would be ideal.

  •  I got no problem with EVs, but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW

    I'm tired of being harassed and guilted by EV evangalists because I won't buy one. Plain and simple, an EV won't work for me- it's a 300 mile round trip to the nearest Costco and most of my shopping trips are around 50 miles. So range is the first problem. Then there's the price- I'm retired on $20k a year and I'd never be able to take advantage of the tax credit. Even the plug in hybrids and the Volt would be a waste of money- I can buy a Corolla or Cruze for half the price, and when the battery is dead a Prius or Volt is just an overweight and overpriced Corolla or Cruze.

    So enjoy your electric cars... But we need some GHG reducing solutions for the majority of us folks who can't afford electric cars and would kill the batteries on them anyway!

    •  Yeah, when I saw someone trying to get a person (0+ / 0-)

      with a 10k yearly income to sign up for the "great lease deal on a new volt" at 32% of his yearly gross...

      Actually trying to paint this as cost effective...

      What can you do?  People with a new religion to promote aren't really subject to reason.

      "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

      by JesseCW on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 02:10:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You actually sound like you do have an EV problem (0+ / 0-)

      First, EV economics were explicitly not the topic of this diary - yet you decide to butt in off-topic, and add a bit of name-calling right in the 1st sentence.

      As to actual economics: you didn't write down how many miles you actually drive in a month, and whether your shopping trips are 50 miles roundtrip or 50 miles one-way. Once you write that down, I can try and help you figure out whether an EREV might be economical for you after all.

      Consider it a free service, despite being off-topic and badmouthing the diarist ;)

      •  I don't need you're arrogant "consulting"... (0+ / 0-)

        I do frequent 350-400 mile and more trips, with no place or time to recharge. I do an 1800 mile trip in three days at least twice a year. I drive and ride over 2000 miles a month.

        Suffice to say, an EV could barely begin to meet my needs!

  •  One thing about Electric of anykind is that by (0+ / 0-)

    using Electric Motors it doesn't matter where the Electricity comes from as long as it's the correct AC/DC Voltage,Amps and Frequency then if someone wants to charge it up or use any source of Electricity then they can charge it even on a Bicycle Generator or tow a Electric Generator or a 20 foot Trailer with Solar Panels on it behind the Car to power the Electric Motors and so by separating the output part of the Power-train from the input part of the Power-train then that alone makes Electric Vehicles a better thing,here's what I mean with ICE the input of the power-train is the Gas/Diesel Engine that must be linked to the output part the power-train of the Transmission and it's Drive-shaft now the Trans doesn't care what rotates it but the only thing that can do that in a Vehicle is a huge hunk of some-kind of ICE or External Combustion Engine like Steam but still it's a huge hunk of Complex Hardware but with Electric Motors as the output source then the huge chunk of input engine is replaced by small light Input electrical wires and even with ones like the volt should the engine go bad then well some creative person could still figure a way to get Electricity to the Electric Motors it might mean towing a Generator like I mentioned above.

  •  An addition and a clarification ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    I own a Prius, but you left out a major advantage of electric vehicles over those with heat engines: No warmup cycle. Traditional cars generally get much worse mpg in the first five or ten minutes of operation as the engine block and catalytic converter soak up heat. For example, lifetime mpg for our 2005 Prius is 51 mpg, but in the first five minutes of driving it's 25 to 35 mpg, depending on the ambient temperature. Electric vehicles have full efficiency from startup, so if your trips are usually short in duration, they confer even greater benefits.

    Regarding this:

    Recently Toyota announced that their 2015 Prius will be 10% more energy efficient. They must be feeling the heat from something, because they have not bothered to produce even a 10% improvement cumulatively since 2004.
    The word "cumulatively" suggests suggests multiple model changes. There's only been one major redesign since 2004, and since Toyota's goal for the 2010 Prius was to make it more mainstream - it's larger and perkier than the previous model - the merely-modest mpg improvement is not surprising. Certainly EVs have put pressure on Toyota to improve the Prius, but so has Toyota itself: The plug-in Prius delivers 95 mpg equivalent on a mix of half electric and half gasoline driving.
    •  mmm, didn't think about that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PianoGuy

      Maybe that's one reason why real-life ICE MPGs seem to always fall short of the EPA figures?

      OTOH, the EPA test surely includes the warm-up time as well, no?

      As to Toyota, I didn't mean they had a different car format every year. Just compared the MPG from 2004 to 2014 and noted the barely 10% improvement. Seems we both agree they have been sitting on their MPG lead, enjoying the fact that no other car maker has gotten close in their hybrid MPGs. They surely didn't prioritize it.

      Their plug-in could be great, but here too they are dragging their feet. They can do far better than 11 mile range. If they get beyond 20 miles, customers will receive a $3750 rebate which will essentially pay for the added battery cost. Put another way, the Federal government is offering Toyota to increase its plug-in range for free - and Toyota says no.

      They have definitely been somewhere between EV-skeptic and EV-hedging. Their main contribution to EVs has been as (minor) investors and coaches to Tesla in mass-manufacturing. But they have their own horse in the race, namely hydrogen-cell technology which (it seems) they still hope will pull the rug from under the EVs.

  •  Some are able to do what we do.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    Which was that we tilted the equations further in the EV direction by putting solar panels on the roof at the same time we bought the Leaf.  Of course, it's an option only open to those who own a free-standing house.  And we could only afford it because of a modest inheritance.  But the end result is that -by thinking of the car and the panels as a package deal - we can at least feel like we are charging the car with our own, all solar, electricity.
    It is, naturally, a bit more complex than that - and better in some ways - in that we have time of use metering.  So we sell peak rate power to the utility during the times of high output and buy it back at low off-peak rates to charge the car at night.
    And, aside from all those considerations, the Leaf is a wonderful car to drive - I'm still enough of a car guy to enjoy the instant response that only electric can give.  We are all used to the lag of an ICE power train while it downshifts and/or gets into the power band.  But an electric has no lag at all and comes on right now.  
    Finally, I personally do almost all my around-town travel by bicycle.  My wife drives the Leaf.  She never learned to ride a bike as a child and never got the comfort level to feel OK in traffic on one.  We'd need Dutch-level bike paths to get her using a bike for transport.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 02:54:47 PM PDT

  •  The comparison is missing so much... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    There are GHG emissions that come from any car that have nothing to do with how efficient the car is.

    Roads have to be paved, no matter what car. The GHG emissions of road construction and pavement is the same. The opportunity cost we accrue from allocating land to pavement is the same. It forces us into larger land use footprints. A longer commute in a more efficient vehicle nets out negatively.

    The more cars that are driven, the more congestion, the less efficient the car. This does not change no matter what car is used.

    Cars go at high speeds and get into nasty accidents, regardless of ICE or EV. The GHG emissions from a helicopter flight and of treating patients is the same.

    etc....

    The worst is "induced driving". Because the car itself, once purchased, is cheaper to operate, the user will drive it more because the price signals from gasoline costs are not there. If you drive a car that is 2x as efficient twice as many miles, you don't emit as many GHG per mile but you emit the same net total GHG. And you do twice as much damage to the roads and cause twice the amount of congestion.

    Add all these generalized externalities into the equation and the net difference gets smaller and smaller.

    The inconvenient truth - Net VMT must go down substantially.

    •  Note my disclaimer in start and end. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KMc

      I certainly do not advocate people buying cars when they don't need them. You are right that the overall GHG cost of car culture is far higher than the sum of its individual cars.

      This was about car-type comparisons, so anything that any car causes is factored out.

      Some of the issues you raised will be discussed in Diary #2 of "general environmental issues". I will definitely revisit your comment for inspiration.

      •  Even if you *need* a car (0+ / 0-)

        If the perceived "cost" (financial, environmental) of a car is lower, people will drive them more. In which case the paradox of a more efficient car being worse becomes true.

        Sort of like baked potato chips. If you are going to have a bag full of them, it's worse than having a handful of the greasy fried ones.

        Might be better to have people guiltily use ICE cars than think they are driving guilt free fairy pixie dust cars.

  •  Superb diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    I do not know if every one of your assumptions will stand up over time, but you seem to have covered all the bases of what should be considered.  I have not seen this type of comprehensive coverage of all the issues related to EVs anywhere else.

    Bravo!

  •  Beautifully Done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    I love that you used numbers. Great summary and well worth the read.

  •  Awesome Job! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    Generally wonderful analysis.  
    I was not aware of The Climate Central peice, but it sounds like the same kind of hatchet job that Reagan used to kill the Solar Sat program. Only there they made assumptions that  multiplied the lift weight by 100 and cut the efficiency by 10.

    To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

    by Bluehawk on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:36:07 PM PDT

    •  I believe Climate Central analyzed in good faith. (0+ / 0-)

      They are clearly not EV fans, though, and with such a multi-faceted analysis requiring so many assumptions, one's opinions do tend to affect both the analysis and its presentation. I am arguably guilty of that too.

      IMHO the Climate Central presentation of the data was worse than the analysis itself, with which my main beef was their preferring the inflated Hawkins et al. battery-overhead estimate over the more recent and more authoritative, and 4x smaller numbers from EPA and ANL.

      But the presentation completely overplayed and dramatized the rather minimal, hugely assumption-dependent, and admittedly temporary, advantage that their analysis gave the Prius over the Leaf.

      Still, they are environmentalists and they tried their best to analyze data - so I wouldn't put them in the same boat as Reagan, or even Ozzie Zehner who is an environmentalist but doesn't even bother to address reality, rather he imposes his value judgments upon it.

  •  Leaf Footprint (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    I took your "challenge" and I put in the Leaf into the EPA's GHG footprint calculator for EVs for Canton, OH, (where I grew up) just to see what I'd get. I got 230 g/mile.

    And, the bonus would be that you'd be polluting the air of Canton that much less, because I'm sure that even the coal-fired plants there have some kind of scrubbers.

    BTW, it's 130 g/mile where I live now in Washington.

    It's like green magic!

  •  Battery Costs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    One thing I notice about Dunn et al. is that it doesn't seem to take into account where the batteries are made. Surely there is variance depending on the suppliers, and also there would be shipping costs (in gCOe). But digging that report out was a very nice addition.

  •  Adding in the Military Expenditures (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    During the Republican presidential debates in 2011-12, John Huntsman made this interesting revelation:

    John Huntsman: [The American people are] not paying $4 per gallon for gas. When you add up the cost of troop deployments, when you add up the cost of keeping the sea lanes open for the importation of imported oil, the bulk and distribution and terminaling costs, it’s $13 a gallon, so says the Milken Institute.
    In other words, if you add in the military costs, the cost of gas at the pump is probably twice as high as what you pay at the pump. (I'm assuming "terminaling" and distribution costs are in the original carbon estimates.) This implies the carbon footprint for oil, at least whatever we get shipped in, is twice as high.

    (This quote is from the debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA, 7 September 2011.)

    •  Funny things happen in translation from $ to CO2 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      and back.

      Somehow you can offset all your annual CO2 tonnage with a seemingly measly amount of money via all those carbon-offset outfits.

      OTOH, 1/5 of US military energy emissions (as the article I cited concludes) translate to only a few % addition to Oil's footprint,
      while 1/5 of the $$ military expenditures can in fact add up to several $ per gallon of gasoline/diesel.

      Go figure!

  •  So glad I saw this on Green Diary Rescue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    love fact based stuff, will come back to finish reading, have hot listed.

    Thanks.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 01:39:41 PM PDT

  •  This just what I have been looking for; thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    I live in So. California, get lots of sunlight, and am weighing a rooftop PV system. By judicious planning my electric bills are lower than average for this size home. However, I would love to have the luxury of using the air conditioner more, and the excess generating capacity would allow that without increasing my carbon footprint. If I get an EV it could be charged most days by the rooftop system as I am home during daylight most days. Without having more specific info, do you see anything I should be on the lookout for? Also, in your calculations did you take into account the environmental cost in manufacturing solar systems?

    •  Short answer: LCAs do take into account overheads (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mtnlvr1946

      involved in building the power plant (which in case of rooftop solar, is just the panels, peripheral equipment and on-site installation).

      LCAs for EVs usually don't do the grid-specific calculations themselves - they take them from standards published by the likes of the IPCC, or from specific studies that calculate the footprint of various electricity-generation systems.

      As to solar, last year when we considered solar I found this specific article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/...

      Solar panels are even a more extreme case than EVs, in that there is nearly no ongoing-use fingerprint, it's all in the manufacturing/installation phase. The article calculates that at a latitude similar to Oregon-California border, it would take some 2-2.5 years to recuperate that energy. So in SoCal, probably in 1.5 years or less. After that, it's zero-footprint!

      Generally I think that rooftop solar in SoCal makes perfect sense. In fact, I think every home there should have it, unless its roof is in the shade.

      As to EVs and rooftop: to clarify, your rooftop would be almost surely grid-connected, and therefore its contribution and your EV's consumption are separate entities. What times of day the two takes place, should have no bearing upon your charging pattern.
      However, because these installations by EV drivers serve to accelerate the move towards cleaner grids, and are therefore very important in the medium to long term. I will address this in Diary #2 due Monday morning.

      Thanks for the comment!

  •  Excellent article ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf

    ... I'm heartened by the fact that EV technology is being embraced both by manufacturers and consumers. I'm not quite to the point where I can get one yet, but I'm working on it.

    We're in the market for a minivan at the moment, and I was disappointed that there are no hybrid or plug-in hybrid alternatives.

    The new Ford Transit Connect, however, does offer a prep package allowing it to be run either on regular gas (at 30+ mpg highway) or natural gas. This is a "prep" package only - equipping the engine for use of both fuels and setting up the basic plumbing - the conversion still has to be done after-market. The good news is that Marion County, FL is building a Natural Gas fueling station for their fleet vehicles just a couple of miles from my house - and it will be open to the public.

    Fracking is, of course, a problem with switching to natural gas, but I gather the environmental costs of fracking are still not as bad as those of petroleum.

    My ultimate goal is to have the Transit for road trips and a pure EV for driving around town, but financially, I'm not there yet.

    I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

    by ObamOcala on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 05:56:06 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the comment. (0+ / 0-)

      Your Ford Transit sounds like a good plan. I wonder whether you're familiar with the terms and tradeoffs of leasing BEVs.  On a lease basis (which is how most people do it) they are quite affordable.

      On our lease, we'll end up paying $7k for 2 years of using a brand-new car, including the down payment - but saving about $2k just in gas costs alone. We are light drivers, you can easily save $2.5-3k of gas money every year driving a BEV, essentially paying back your entire lease just from that. The standard Nissan Leaf lease right now, I think, is $2k down and $200/month for 3(?) years. If you put 800-1000 miles a month on it, your monthly lease payments are essentially spoken for by the gas money saved.

  •  My LEAF looks better everyday! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    What, me worry? I read MAD Magazine.

    by Bill Roberts on Sat Sep 21, 2013 at 10:55:04 PM PDT

  •  Dude, that was AWESOME! (0+ / 0-)

    OWS (Occupy Pittsburgh) - REAL MOVEMENT of, by, for AND from the people!

    by waiting for lefty on Sun Sep 22, 2013 at 09:37:42 AM PDT

  •  "All EVs come with a charging timer" (0+ / 0-)

    That is not true. There are over 1000 EVs from the 2000 era (CARB ZEV mandate) that do not have timers. Chevy S-10 EV, Ford Ranger EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and a couple other survivors, had no timer.

    All the current EVs come with a charging timer, only if you include mass produced EVs (Leaf, Model-S, Focus EV, Fit EV, Spark EV, etc). But mostly not the less mass produced EVs, Corbin Sparrow, Tango and most conversions, as well as most electric scooter, electric motorcycles, and e-bikes don't have timers.

    Please change "All" to Most.

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