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Electric Cars Pollute More Than Gas Cars - National Bureau of ER Says

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Alexander, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. Alexander

    Alexander P# 8,878

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    The National Bureau of Economic Research just released a study that claims EV's can pollute more than gas cars. If you want to read the whole article on Arstechnica here it is:

    How much do electric cars actually pollute? | Ars Technica

    However, it's mistakenly doing an apple-to-oranges comparison to come to its conclusion and we need to get the word out that this study is flawed. As I'm sure some of you know, this is called the Well-to-Wheel's argument. That the generation of the electricity extends the tailpipe of EV's making them more polluting. RUBISH!

    Anyone who comes to this conclusion always forgets that gasoline cars have extended tailpipes too, and if you're going to count the pollution from the extended tailpipe of EV's, then you need to include the extended tailpipe pollution for Gasoline cars too (which this study neglects to do). Here's a great video that explains this extremely well. Just skip to the 6 minute mark if you don't want to watch the whole thing:

    Pilot | Fully Charged - YouTube

    This is what I posted in the comments to the article, and I'm asking that everyone here create an account and promote my comment up (if you agree with it) to help spread awareness. Here's the link and what I posted:

    How much do electric cars actually pollute? | Ars Technica

    If you can't find my comment, just look for my username: Alexander2002


    "I disagree with their conclusion that EV's are more polluting.

    This is what's called the "Well-to-Wheel's" argument and as an EV owner I hear it all the time. I've done a lot of research and the problem with this argument is that if your going to calculate the total pollution of driving an EV, you also have to calculate the total pollution of driving a Gas car (which this study neglected to do). When you do a fair energy-production to gasoline-production comparison, gasoline cars come out to be FAR more polluting. Here's why:

    To refine 1 gallon of gasoline it takes between 4 to 7.5 kWh's of electricity. That's a lot of electricity... In fact its so much that most refineries have their own power plants (usually coal burning). I could drive an EV 20 to 37 miles on the amount of electricity it takes to refine 1 gallon of gasoline.

    The refinement process alone already makes gasoline cars more polluting then EV's, and that's just the pollution generated from the refining process. You also have to include the pollution created from:

    - The drilling of the oil
    - The pumping of the oil
    - The storage of the oil
    - The transportation of the oil (in ships or trucks which also burn gasoline)
    - The pumping of the oil into the refineries
    - The refining process itself (which we've already talked about)
    - The transportation of the gasoline (in ships or trucks which also burn gasoline)
    - The pumping of the gasoline into gas stations
    - The pumping of the gas into your car
    - Then finally the burring of the gas in your car

    When you add up this entire process it comes out to 450 grams of CO2 per kilometer of driving (+/- 50 grams). Even if you charge an EV from the most polluting source of electricity (coal), its only 60 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Most of the time its much less then that. We use hydroelectric here in California so its 0 grams for us.

    So if you're going to use the Well-to-Wheel's argument and account for the pollution that's created from the generation of electricity, then you also have account for the pollution that's created from the production of gasoline. When you do that EV's are the clear winner."
     
  2. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    Done, thanks for the great response.
     
  3. rickgt

    rickgt Enthusiast owner/member

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    Yes... Thanks for this

    - - - Updated - - -

    Done.
     
  4. ggies07

    ggies07 Active Member

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    Thanks for letting us know. Seriously, everyone needs to reads this article as well: How Tesla Will Change The World - Wait But Why

    It talks about the "long tailpipe" issue as well and gives great graphs.

    spread it in the comment section and to everyone you know.
     
  5. gjunky

    gjunky Waiting for the Model ☰

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  6. drinkerofkoolaid

    drinkerofkoolaid Active Member

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    #6 drinkerofkoolaid, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
    1) The article and research is flawed.



    2) All EV's are not equal.



    3) Any honest journalist would point out that if governments want to ensure that EV's are as green as possible, perhaps more regulation and disincentives for pollution intensive energy production and distribution methods are necessary. Also, that more incentives for clean energy are necessary.

    * The societal cost of subsidizing oil.

    4) The "research" ignores the fact that lithium ion batteries and aluminum can be repurposed, and recycled. Gasoline, and most of the components in gasoline vehicles can't be recycled.

    5) The "research" also ignores the societal cost of oil spills, cancer causing chemicals, and destroyed cities.

    Dangerous and cancer-causing properties of products and chemicals in the oil refining and petrochemical industry: Part I. Carcinogenicity of motor ... - PubMed - NCBI

    North Dakota's Oil Boom is a Blessing and a Curse
     
  7. stevej119

    stevej119 Member

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  8. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Member

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    They're trying...Audi just created diesel fuel from air and water
     
  9. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth...
     
  10. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Or just really annoying,
     
  11. Bangor Bob

    Bangor Bob Member

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    People just remember the headlines, unfortunately. I still get ordinary people bringing up the "Prius worse for environment than Hummer" bull.

    The vast majority of people want to be reassured that what they're doing is OK and they don't need to change. Deceptive headlines like this give them permission to continue business-as-usual without guilt, and that's why they "stick" in the public consciousness so powerfully. That's my take on it, anyway.
     
  12. DITB

    DITB Charged.hk co-founder

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    Registered. Upvoted. And even wrote my own post.

    Not as good as Alexanders, but "In my own words" my own little rant against all this.

    Feel free to upvote mine too, if you like it. Username the same as this forum.


     
  13. Jackl1956

    Jackl1956 Member

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    [​IMG]

    Thank you, for not smoking.
     
  14. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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  15. toto_48313

    toto_48313 CAN P #5

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    Bob you are right, and may be we should propmote this headline: " ICE car use more electricity than EV " or something like that based on this: An EV could drive about 30 miles on the amount of electricity it takes to refine 1 gallon of gasoline.
    To refine 1 gallon of gasoline it takes between 4 to 7.5 kWh's of electricity. That's a lot of electricity... In fact its so much that most refineries have their own power plants (usually coal burning).
     
  16. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    We've been over this before -- it take 4 to 7.5 kWhs of energy but most of that is process steam, which is effectively a by-product of the refining process. Use of electricity is not negligible but much less.
     
  17. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

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    That is true, but in the context of the original article, it is also still true that the refining process itself causes pollution that is completely ignored in that analysis. Whether it came in the form of external electricity or process steam is sort-of irrelevant. And the refineries do still use a lot of external electricity too, even if it's only to pump stuff around and keep the lights on.
     
  18. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    I agree on all fronts; I was just picking a nit about saying it takes more electricity​. When rebutting fallacies, it's always better to state the case accurately ourselves.
     
  19. Drucifer

    Drucifer Active Member

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    This NBER study - funded by grants from: ALEC, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute.
     
  20. AB4EJ

    AB4EJ Member

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    I read the original paper. Some thoughts:

    - It states that the paper has not been peer-reviewed, so it may or may not have seen the light of day if it had been. Some problems that jump out at me are:

    - It uses the oversimplification that all electrical power comes from burning fossil fuels. In many (if not most) areas of the US, power comes from a mix of fossil plus hydroelectric, nuclear, and renewables; so there is a fundamental error in assumptions. Another related factor is that the energy mix is in a state of flux: the equations change as more renewables come on line.
    - The study seems to be mainly interested in whether current subsidies are sensible.... does it make sense for a state to subsidize EVs so as to move pollution away from that state? In the case of CA, definitely yes, because CA geography traps pollutants, creating smog. In many other areas, this is not true. Global CO2 is a federal government issue, not a state issue. So maybe a lot of state subsidies don't make sense (unless the people of that state are passionate about the CO2 issue). This is the case regardless of the marginal issue of how you assign a value to pollution.
    - Other commenters have discussed the "Well to wheels" approach, which makes sense - but you also have to compare the environmental cost of manufacturing the vehicles as well, which is usually ignored.

    There is an ongoing problem of glossing over some factors that can have an outsized impact on results - a common problem with models of all kinds. Therefore you have to take limited studies like that (which focus on one small issue) with a large grain of salt.
     

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