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Help finding the video demonstrating efficiency of coal powered Tesla vs gasoline ICE

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Nomad, May 11, 2015.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Member

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    One of the common, albeit misguided, criticisms of electric vehicles is that they get their electricity from coal, thus making them effectively more of a pollutant than a traditional ICE car.

    I seem to recall a video of either JB or Elon debunking that claim. If my memory serves me correctly, the topic is discussed at the beginning of the video in an effort to explain, generally, why electric vehicles are the answer to sustainable transport. It goes to other subjects, but they demonstrates exactly why a electric cars powered even by dirty coal power plants are still more efficient and environmentally friendly that ICE vehicles.

    Of course, less than 50% of the United States' grid power comes from coal, but the data presented was still of interest.

    Hopefully someone has the video bookmarked somewhere!
     
  2. SebastianR

    SebastianR Member

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    +1 if anybody has this handy, it would really help. There is an awful lot of anti EV and pro-Diesel sentiment in big parts of Europe and the narrative that EVs are bad since the are "coal powered" is stubbornly wide-spread.
     
  3. ModelX

    ModelX Member

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  4. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #4 nwdiver, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
    Defending the use of coal generated electricity is the wrong way to respond to this line of reasoning... The fact that a Tesla charged with coal is still cleaner should be a side note... not the main response; THIS should be your main response...

    New-US-Electric-Generation-Capacity-2014.png

    1-1-AnnualUSSolarPVInstallations2000-2014.png

    Yes, coal is a terrible, TERRIBLE way to generate electricity... BUT the Tesla is still cleaner... AND even if it wasn't... coal is going away. We're adding PV production >10x faster than EV consumption. @12k miles/yr we added enough PV in 2014 for ~2.4M EVs. The US added ~123k EVs.
     
  5. SebastianR

    SebastianR Member

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    Thanks! It is a great video. However, it is a bit short on numbers / facts. I think it explains the problem really well but it won't impress die-hard petrol heads as they fantasize that their "super efficient" Diesel engines are per default better than Coal -> Electricity -> Battery -> Electricity -> Motor -> Road...

    100% fully agree - a few problems I encountered: people would happily argue that when you plug the car in (at night, when you come home), there is only coal energy in the grid (yea yea, powerwall, I know...). Then people argue that the current mix of the grid is dirty - and there is no way to sugar coat that.

    I think the easiest way to put this to rest is to some data on the 100% coal powered Tesla vs. a modern Diesel sedan of the same size. Anywhere a study that looks into that? (And I don't mean that botched Norwegian study that was done before the Model S existed).
     
  6. Bj0rn

    Bj0rn Member

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    Note 1: this is a rough estimate of the energy consumption and nothing more. It does not calculate emission of greenhouse gasses or other pollutants.
    Note 2: this is just a back of the envelope calculation. Feel free to improve.
    Note 3: mix of imperial and metric units ahead :smile:
    Note 4: I did not take the "overhead" into account to distribute diesel/gasoline from an oil field to the gas station, nor did I take the overhead into account to bring coal to the power plant. This also consumes energy.


    Suppose you take the MS for a trip of 100 miles (160 km) and end up with an average consumption of 320 Wh/mile (200 Wh/km). So the car will have consumed 3,2 kWh. Suppose we don't use green electricity from solar panels or wind mills. We use brown electricity that is generated from coal or another source of energy. If I remember correctly, 3 kWh of primary energy sources (coal for instance) is needed to deliver 1 kWh of electricity at your home. This 3:1 factor takes into account the inefficiency of the turbine, transmission and distribution losses. In terms of primary energy source, The 3,2 kWh of electricity consumed by the MS represents, in terms of primary energy source (excluding sun and wind), 9.6kWh. Let's round this number to approximately 10 kWh.

    A typical (European) diesel car will consume 5,0l/100km (47 MPG). At the end of the trip, it will have consumed 8,0l (2.1 gallons) of diesel. How much primary energy does 8 liters of diesel represent? 80 kWh (*)
    A gasoline car that uses about 7,0 l/100 km (34 MPG) will require 11.2 liters (2.96 gallons) to do the same trip. How much primary energy does 11 liters of gasoline represent? 100 kWh (**)


    (*) diesel offers 35.86 MJ/l (source wikipedia).
    This is equivalent to 35.86 * 10^6 J/l = 35.86 * 10^6 * Ws/l = (35.86 * 10^6) / (1000*3600) kWh/l = (35.86 / 3.6) * (10^6 / 10^6) = 9.96 kWh/l.
    This means 8 liters represents 8.0 * 9.96 = 79.7 kWh i.e. approx. 80 kWh

    (**) gasoline offers 32.18 MJ/L (source wikipedia).
    This is equivalent to 32.18 / 3.6 = 8.94 kWh/l
    This means 11.2 liters represents 11.2 * 8.94 = 100 kWh
     
  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    320Wh × 100 = 32kWh. 32kWh x 3 = 96kWh. If you round up as you did it's 100kWh, the same.

    Coal's bad, m'kay. But as nwdiver points out, many regions are not adding lots of new coal, because it's only good for baseload, capital intensive, more expensive than NG and good renewables and has relatively high pollution.

    I'm actually ambivalent on coal power, because pollution from newer coal plants is so much lower than older plants, and practical limitations will keep use down, so overall I'm more excited about domestication of energy, even including coal.
     
  8. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Here's how I answer that one: when you buy a new ICE vehicle, you've locked in its level of pollution. When you buy a new EV, it gets cleaner every year as the grid evolves away from fossil fuels.
     
  9. shelbri

    shelbri Member

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    #9 shelbri, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    Similar to Robert, I breakdown the movement to zero emission transportation into two components: Generation and Consumption.

    Tesla has solved the consumption component with zero emissions while driving. ICE vehicles are improving but will never get to zero emmissions as they burn fossil fuels.

    On the generation side, things continue to improve. As others have pointed out, increases in solar and wind continue as does the switch from coal to natural gas. This continues to reduced emission on the generation side. Eventually, solar and wind can completely replace fossil fuels as costs decline. It is already technically possible.

    While electric vehicles provide a path to fully emission free transportation, ICE vehicles fail to solve either side of the equation. The Coal dirty grid argument is short-sighted at best.
     
  10. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Precisely... we need to work from both ends simultaneously; Ask the critic if we should wait until we're 100% renewable or slowly replace our ICE fleet as renewables expand. There is little doubt that coal is in terminal decline and is unlikely to last >15 years as a major energy source. To counter the 'nighttime charging' argument, no need to mention grid storage... remind them that wind turbines are very active at night.

    An EV charged with coal is only marginally better than its ICE counterpart and I'm sure you can setup a comparison where the ICE would win. As Robert mentioned the key phase here is that EVs get CLEANER the longer you drive them.
     
  11. MichFin

    MichFin Member

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    Personally I don't think of it as being cleaner than coal.... I think of it as not putting my money into the hands of terrorist and saving our men and women from going off to the middle east to fight for oil.
     
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Member

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    Thanks for sharing! It's definitely not the video I'm looking for, but it is thematically similar. It'll be a good resource to have in the future.


    I agree wholeheartedly. I just like to be thorough. The fact that coal powered EVs are cleaner than ICE vehicles is just the cherry on top after providing statistics on new energy generation. And the milkshake is just that much sweeter when there's a cherry on top.
     
  13. mspohr

    mspohr Active Member

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    Your figures for coal include generation and distribution losses but your don't include these losses for gasoline or diesel. The EPA uses a factor of about 30% to account for exploration, extraction, transportation and refining losses. Your numbers for gasoline and diesel should be about 30% higher.
     
  14. renim

    renim Member

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    By far the best paper on EVs, diesel and petrol comparison is Renault's LCA comparison of their EV, diesel and petrol Fluence
    Renault is reliant on diesels for their profit margin, so the results should be quite neutral between diesel, EV and petrol.
    the summary of the results is in page 91
    http://group.renault.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/fluence-acv-2011.pdf

    fluence.png
     
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Member

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    I think I found it! If this isn't the exact video I had in mind, it's a great substitute. Definitely worth the watch, though it has been posted on TMC a couple times before.

    Pioneers in Clean Technology - Marc Tarpenning - Tesla Motors - YouTube

    I believe I was also able to find one of the white papers that Marc Tarpenning mentions in the video. I do wish the paper had information on the worst case scenario of coal power that Marc mentioned in the video.. If anyone is able to find that, that would be great.

    http://web.stanford.edu/group/greendorm/participate/cee124/TeslaReading.pdf
     
  16. Bj0rn

    Bj0rn Member

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    #16 Bj0rn, May 13, 2015
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
    Thanks for the correction. I realized my miscalculation today when I looked at the dashboard :)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you. I was missing a source for accurate numbers to account for that overhead.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Very true. It allows to disconnect the energy needed for your car from one specific energy source (such as oil). An electric car can be powered by oil, coal, uranium and of course renewable sources like wind or sun.
    And by the way, with solar panels, you can produce the energy for your own car. Not many people can say they have an oil well/oil refinery in their back yard...
     
  17. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    I'm currently building a cedar fence in my back yard because I think it is better not to pollute the neighborhood with free roaming toddlers and pets. Right now, I've only got the posts and a few pickets up on one side. My neighbor came outside and said "What good is that? All that effort and your dogs still run around the neighborhood as bad as anyone elses?" I argue back "Well, if the dogs are in that corner over there, they are reasonably well contained." The neighbor laughs and says "they can just run out the other side." I reply "Well, they have to run around the posts, so it does slow them down." My son looked up at my wife with a confused look on his face and said "Don't they know the fence isn't done yet?"
     
  18. rage_777

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  19. SebastianR

    SebastianR Member

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    Thanks a lot - that's great stuff! Very comprehensive.
     
  20. 3mp_kwh

    3mp_kwh Member

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    The Reneault study may be based upon French (nuclear) grid numbers.

    Keep it simple. 2lbs per kwh, 20lbs per gallon, come to it being about 30mpg before a CO2 from a car beats an all-coal fired BEV. Then, tell them 100% coal is a myth, you sometimes charge by day, you selected wind power through your utility, you have panels, you live in a state with nuclear, or natural gas. Based on where the Teslas are, I bet less than 1, in 10, reading this have all-coal dispatch, at night. We just allow ourselves to get corralled into this argument.
     

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