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Carbon Emissions: Report suggests 13,500 miles for EV break-even point with ICE cars.

Llama.

Member
Jan 25, 2021
197
102
Leeds, UK
Hello all

I’ve been reading the article linked below from Reuters, June 2021 looking at the comparison of lifetime emissions between EVs and ICE cars.

EV Carbon Emissions

It uses a 54 kWh Tesla Model 3 compared to Toyota Corolla with 33 MPG.

There are a couple of scenarios used but one suggests that if the electricity used to charge the EV was 23% from coal fired power stations then the break even point would be 13,500 miles.

I’ve been looking for some data like this because it helps to address the myth that EVs are just as bad for the environment as ICE cars.

Can anyone help me to find some more U.K. relevant comparison with our use of fossil fuel for power generation?

For example, what is the annual proportion of fossil fuel used in U.K. electricity generation? How does the U.K electricity generation compare to other countries

Ideally I’d like to find a way to calculate what the break-even point would be for a typical U.K. car.

Even better would be if there was some way of calculating the break even point for my own personal circumstances.

I’m using about 50% Octopus Go off peak and 50% home solar production to power my Model 3 LR.

I know this is a hugely complex question, but where is my break-even point?

Thanks

Llama
 
Last edited:

Gatsojon

Member
Aug 4, 2019
642
624
Manchester UK

This site tells you what is happening real time. We use very little coal these days but gas is quite high at times.
There are also sites that estimate your current carbon emissions per kWh produced in your area. I’ll post that when I find it.

 

pgkevet

Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
1,435
1,223
mid wales
You'll never get a true comparison for CO2 emissions 'cos folk never dive deeply enough into the real figures
Take just an insanely small section comparing an EV built in the USA with a car built UK
For the moment, assume that building them took the same energy/waste (it doesn't when engine blocks are mined in one country, refined in another, cast in a third, machined in a fourth and shipped to a 5th for assembly and a sixth for installation)
One has to travel by sea. It's not the fuel the ship used it's the waste in making the ship But more complicated in mining the iron and smelting it to make the ship (and all its other components) you improved the financial well-being of all the miners and shipwrights - so they ate more meat, bought more exotic imported foods, bought more plastic bottles of water and take-out containers perhaps became healthier and more fertile, more kids, more pollution
Even if you stop the use of petrol you won't stop oil production - it's needed for all sorts of other industries up to and including tar for the roads (yes you could use polluting tech to make concrete roads instead)

Oh, I’m so wonderfully eco-friendly that I use solar panels and leccy from wind turbines - except that my panels have a 25yr lifespan, let alone the pollution for their manufacture and end of life in a landfill My wind turbine used balsa (grown tropically, shipped, sawn etc and glass fibre and resins (made from oil) then transported out to sea (factories, heavy machinery, employees) Check over with helicopters, limited lifespan, lots of copper cabling to distribute, pylons for the cabling - more people to service it all, computer systems.

I’m not saying it's wrong, but I am making the point that such calculations are so easily skewed that they become all but meaningless. Even a decent pandemic doesn't solve stuff 'cos too many folk have their hands in brown envelopes and political machinations.
 

GRiLLA

Member
Jul 5, 2020
842
792
UK
These sort of calculations are pretty influenceable depending on what you include or exclusion, for example

* How much of the energy used in manufacture at Tesla's plants comes from renewable sources? Tesla claim all of it. If so, why is there any carbon deficit at all ?
* If I charge overnight in the UK, the energy mix is generally far more green than the average, say 80-90% carbon free
* As time goes on the energy cost of extracting oil increases, e.g. fracking and tar sands, it's not a static amount of emissions

To be honest, you could come up with any kind of figure you wanted, it's better for an argument to have a figure that's intuitively acceptable to the person you are arguing with. I tend to say 2 years, they agree that sounds acceptable (there was a german study that came up with 2 years), and allows me to make the argument that the EV just keeps getting greener and greener while the petrol car just always emits more.

My other popular argument is whenever someone claims that 'mining for batteries is wreaking the planet'. Again, yes, extracting stuff from under the ground absolutely creates environmental consequences. A typical EV battery has about 10Kgs of Lithium for the whole of it's life. This is bad to mine. However if you compare that to the 10,000 Litres of petrol that will go through a combustion engine you can agree that the impact is surely 1000x less, and that's before you consider you actually burnt it.

On recycling, yes there's work to be done, realistically there aren't that many EV batteries around to be recycled yet, but it's certainly possible. What can't be done is recycling CO2 back into petrol. EVs are more recyclable.
 

pgkevet

Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
1,435
1,223
mid wales
On recycling, yes there's work to be done, realistically there aren't that many EV batteries around to be recycled yet, but it's certainly possible. What can't be done is recycling CO2 back into petrol. EVs are more recyclable.
Tut,tut Not realistic to make petrol from CO2, but hydrocarbon fuels - yes And IIRC some chap was doing that in a (pilot plant) green fashion by using sunlight and mirrors as his heat source.
 

pgkevet

Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
1,435
1,223
mid wales
Well established that as people become better off they actually have smaller families ... all the other polluting contributions I do agree with!
Once they join the 'middle classes' indeed My excuse that i was thinking Asian cheap labourers and neo-natal death rates
In any event ya got the drift of t'argument - lies and statisticians.
 

Llama.

Member
Jan 25, 2021
197
102
Leeds, UK
it's better for an argument to have a figure that's intuitively acceptable to the person you are arguing with. I tend to say 2 years, they agree that sounds acceptable (there was a german study that came up with 2 years), and allows me to make the argument that the EV just keeps getting greener and greener while the petrol car just always emits more.
This is a helpful way of having the conversation. 2 years to break even sounds plausible. That’s about 16000 miles for me.
 

Gatsojon

Member
Aug 4, 2019
642
624
Manchester UK
This is a helpful way of having the conversation. 2 years to break even sounds plausible. That’s about 16000 miles for me.
Yes I read that too. Generally sensible assumptions used and allows the discussion to move on. None of this is perfect. In a million years some being will pull a core sample from whatever the earth looks like then and tell us what the answer was.
 
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Llama.

Member
Jan 25, 2021
197
102
Leeds, UK
I’m starting to realise how complicated a question this, but I’m finding some other source of information.

Here is an interesting article:


In particular it talks about the time it takes for an EV to break even with a gas car depends on two key variables: how the vehicle is manufactured, and how you fuel the EV.

It makes sense to try and keep these points separate for discussion.

In which case, how does Tesla compare to other EV manufacturers in terms of Carbon impact of vehicle production?
 

nufan

Member
Nov 6, 2019
126
116
UK
I’m using about 50% Octopus Go off peak and 50% home solar production to power my Model 3 LR.

I know this is a hugely complex question, but where is my break-even point?

Thanks

Llama

I have the luxury of an LR and relatively low mileage most of the time. I probably only need 30-40% a week right now - but can time a couple of charges just right over a week if I need more.

So - I appreciate it might not work for all - but I’m influencing my break-even by doing charges at the low-carbon points for the local energy grid.

Go appears to coincide with low carbon intensity periods 1-3 times a week. Windy weekends are great. Guildford appears to get French nuclear for a lot of base load. Gas appears to crank up on still days. Summertime appears to have decreased carbon intensity (less demand, less spiky demand I assume).


This has made me a grid-nerd. My dinner-time conversation-opener with the kids is often about how clean the power will be tonight. I’ve begun to obsess about minimising the CO2 “in the tank” to an unhealthy extent way past the forecast’s reliability! Do I charge fully tonight or hedge my bets by leaving 20% free for the 40g/kWh period that looks like it’s coming tomorrow during Go?!
 
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pgkevet

Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
1,435
1,223
mid wales
Devil's advocate here. amused by any that bang on about their carbon status yet must have holidays by air, out of season flown in fruits and veg, a huge assortment of gadgets and automations (what's wrong with getting off your backside and turning the thing on or off?) and my personal rant at plastic water bottles, bought water and take-out coffee. I include my wife who has to have all the lights on in case she wants to go back into that room again then those that have to keep up with current fashion despite clothing that's still fit for purpose
I'm guilty of some of that too (never buying water or coffee) but I make no sanctimonious pretences
 

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
10,783
8,019
Maine
Devil's advocate here. amused by any that bang on about their carbon status yet must have holidays by air, out of season flown in fruits and veg, a huge assortment of gadgets and automations (what's wrong with getting off your backside and turning the thing on or off?) and my personal rant at plastic water bottles, bought water and take-out coffee. I include my wife who has to have all the lights on in case she wants to go back into that room again then those that have to keep up with current fashion despite clothing that's still fit for purpose
I'm guilty of some of that too (never buying water or coffee) but I make no sanctimonious pretences

Also annoying are people who bang on about how Life-X isn't green, even though X is clearly better than the status quo in many ways and realistically an important part of decarbonisation.
 

GRiLLA

Member
Jul 5, 2020
842
792
UK
Also annoying are people who bang on about how Life-X isn't green, even though X is clearly better than the status quo in many ways and realistically an important part of decarbonisation.
Yup, and I think this cuts both ways. Too often people are absolute about things that will make a big difference in the grey. Telling people they can never fly again just creates conflict, but suggesting that a frequent flyer tax should penalize the 1% of UK folks who take 20% of all flights. Trying to insist that people stop eating beef won't get anywhere, but suggesting cutting down for their health and the planet is more acceptable.
 

Mark-R

Member
Jan 28, 2020
303
496
Shropshire, UK
Hello all

I’ve been reading the article linked below from Reuters, June 2021 looking at the comparison of lifetime emissions between EVs and ICE cars.

EV Carbon Emissions

It uses a 54 kWh Tesla Model 3 compared to Toyota Corolla with 33 MPG.
Although the Reuters article is very recent, it only uses one model which will be based on hundreds of assumptions. The following article is older but has a lot more detail on the various factors that impact on lifetime emissions:
Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change
 
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pgkevet

Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
1,435
1,223
mid wales
Yup, and I think this cuts both ways. Too often people are absolute about things that will make a big difference in the grey. Telling people they can never fly again just creates conflict, but suggesting that a frequent flyer tax should penalize the 1% of UK folks who take 20% of all flights. Trying to insist that people stop eating beef won't get anywhere, but suggesting cutting down for their health and the planet is more acceptable.
So lying and manipulating the public is good - got it!
And there was me thinking we should deal with the pandemic like foot and mouth - cull all the positives and their contacts - way more carbon friendly:D:D:D
 

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