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New Report: EVs Cleaner Than Ever

Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by EinSV, Jun 1, 2017.

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  1. EinSV

    EinSV Active Member

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    The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued an update to its series of reports on EV GHG emissions, finding that the GHG advantage of EVs over gasoline and hybrid engines has continued to widen as the grid has gotten cleaner. Based on the most recent data available from the EPA (from 2014), on average EVs now emit the GHG equivalent of gasoline cars that get 73 MPG. New Numbers Are In and EVs Are Cleaner Than Ever

    Some of the best regions are:

    Upstate NY (160 MPG (!!) - up from 115)
    New England (103 MGE -- up from 75)
    California (95 MPG -- up from 78)

    A summary from the report:

    When compared to our initial report on EV global warming emissions, the changes are impressive. That report used 2009 power plant data (the most current available in 2012) and placed only 9 of 26 regions in the ‘best’ category. Now 19 regions are in the best category with only 2 in ‘good’ regions. For example, the Northern Midwest region that includes Minnesota and Iowa improved from 39 MPG equivalent to 54 MPG and Eastern Wisconsin also jumped from ‘good’ at 40 MPG to our ‘best’ rating with emissions equal to 52 MPG gasoline cars.
    Since the data is from 2014 current results are likely even better. The update also does not account for EVs powered by rooftop solar, which is even cleaner.

    A few more details below. The interactive map in the linked article showing changes from 2009 to 2014 is useful.

    Based on where EVs have been bought to-date, the average EV in the US now produces emissions equivalent to a hypothetical gasoline car achieving 73 MPG.
    Nearly half of the EVs sold to date have gone to California, where the average EV produces global warming emissions equal to a 95 MPG gasoline car. The next 5 states for EV sales (Georgia, Washington, New York, Florida, and Texas) account for 20 percent of US EV sales and are regions that have emissions ratings of 50 MPG or better.

    Manufacturing emissions are important, but much less of a factor than fuel emissions.
    The emissions estimates presented above compare the use of an EV compared to using a gasoline vehicle. However, there are also emissions associated with the production of these cars, and in general making EVs produces more emissions than a comparable gasoline car. We studied this issue in our “Cleaner Cars From Cradle to Grave” report in 2015 and found that the extra emissions from making an 80-mile range EV (compared to a similar gasoline car) are about 15% higher. However, this extra emissions ‘debt’ is quickly recovered by the savings that accrue while using the electric vehicle.

    How quickly the emissions are recovered depends on where the car is charged, but for an EV the size of the Nissan LEAF, we found that break-even point occurs after 6 to 13 months of use (depending on electric grid region), well shorter than the likely lifespan of the car.

    Choosing an electric car over an inefficient gasoline model is one of the most influential decisions a household can make to reduce emissions
     
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  2. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    Thanks fur taking the time to pull this out of the investor forum and give it the attention it deserves via its own thread, @EinSV.
     
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  3. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    My Rocky Mtn region has not improved and still lags a standard Prius by a large margin but looks are deceiving because we have a fantastic solar resource. I bought a Prius Prime while waiting for a Model 3 and have averaged about 110 mpg since taking delivery in March. The modest electricity component is easily supplied by my home PV.
     
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  4. EinSV

    EinSV Active Member

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    That's a great way to go. As your example suggests, the report understates the benefit of EVs because it does not factor in rooftop solar, which is an especially big deal in states like yours with a dirtier than average grid but great solar resource.

    A surprisingly large percentage of EV owners appear to be charging with rooftop solar. For example, in one of their earlier reports in this series, the UCS cited a 2013 survey that found that 48% of new California EV owners already had solar or were considering installing it:

    PAIRING EVS WITH ROOFTOP SOLAR A 2013 survey of new EV owners in California, which represents more than 40 percent of the market for EVs, found that 32 percent of respondents had solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in their homes. An additional 16 percent indicated they planned to install a PV system in the future (CCSE 2013). http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf (page 22)​

    It would be great if UCS or someone else started tracking the percentage of EV owners with solar -- I bet it will skyrocket over the next 5-10 years.
     
  5. gavine

    gavine Petrol Head turned EV Enthusiast

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    Regarding the manufacturing-emissions argument, how about the emissions created at the factories making the trucks that deliver gasoline to the stations? And, not to mention, the stations-themselves and the oil tankers and the drilling rigs, etc., etc. Those items don't magically appear, just like gasoline doesn't magically appear at the station.
     
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  6. gr2020

    gr2020 Member

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    And for those here in Colorado without their own solar, subscribing to Xcel's Windsource program would presumably reduce your overall emissions impact.
     
  7. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    Or you can do both! We have a 4.2 kW system, a Leaf, and a plug-in Volvo. The PV covers around 50% of our total household usage, and we Windsource the rest.
     
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  8. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    Do you think that a subscription puts more wind on the grid ?
     
  9. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    Yes. The WindSource payments are used to purchase RECs above and beyond Xcel's mandated requirements.

    Just to be a stickler, the RM region has improved. It's still terrible, but it did go from 34 in the prior report to 38.
     
  10. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    The latest information I could find on Xcel was that 23% of source energy is wind. I don't know what the mandate is, but e.g. lets say it is 20%, Excel is already buying 3% more than mandated. Then I come along and pay for wind-sourced energy. What effect will by subscription have on the amount of wind on the grid ?

    As an aside, the above reference was from 2016 and reported 46% coal, about a quarter NG and the remainder carbon free sources. That would seem to work out to much better than 38 MPG equivalent for the Xcel territory.
     
  11. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    Perhaps it would help to examine the logical endpoint of the scenario: everyone in Xcel's service territory purchases the 100% WindSource option. In that case, all of Xcel's production must be from wind, and they would add vast amounts of wind generation to provide that.

    Clearly that's not the reality. But as more people sign up for WindSource, the logical conclusion is that yes, more wind is added to the grid.
     
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  12. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    My rural co-op offers me ~ 0.5 cents a kWh for my REC. I deferred, mostly to avoid the paperwork they require but also in hopes of new generation elsewhere.
     
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  13. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    That is not a fair conclusion. I think it accurate to say that if the total Windsource subscription plus the mandate exceeds the wind resource already on the grid, Xcel buys more RECs and/or adds wind to their portfolio to make up the difference. For now that is no where close to being true.
     
  14. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    What is the percentage of their grid supply that Xcel would procure from wind if there was no WindSource program?
     
  15. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    That is not a rhetorical question, although you may have intended it to be so.

    I think it fair to say that wind source substantially above (mandate + WindSource) implies an economic choice by Xcel, so at least the difference and perhaps more.
     
  16. Zaxxon

    Zaxxon Supporting Member

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    My (poorly-communicated) point is that demand for Windsource drives the need for Xcel to have more wind generation on their grid (all Windsource energy is produced in Colorado; Xcel does not simply buy RECs from elsewhere). To my prior question, the answer is either that Xcel would have generated the minimum amount of wind required to meet their mandates, or they would have added additional wind for other reasons independent of Windsource. But in either case. Xcel does not get to claim REC credit for wind that was purchased under WindSource, as those RECs are retired in the name of the Windsource subscribers, not Xcel. Therefore, the Windsource generation is by definition over and above what Xcel would have done sans Windsource.

    Straight from the FAQ: "What does the additional money go towards? The money received from Windsource customers is used to purchase wind energy. As the program grows, more wind energy will be added to our electric system/grid to meet the needs of Windsource customers."
     
  17. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    I'm skeptical

    Xcel has extra wind and RECs on its books from economic choices. I don't see anything that prevents them from moving some of that account balance to the WindSource column. Please don't take my position as specifically critical of WindSource -- I'm skeptical of pretty much all the utility "green energy" programs and it is the reason I put up PV at my home rather than pay the utility. The PV in my yard is most definitely not an accounting trick.
     
  18. AB4EJ

    AB4EJ Member

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    We could start by doing a poll of Tesla Motors Club members. Granted, this would not be a scientific poll, but it would be interesting data.
     
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  19. SageBrush

    SageBrush 2018: Drain the Sewer

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    If you do, please separate out "interested" from "done that."
     
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  20. EinSV

    EinSV Active Member

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    Good idea! As @SageBrush suggests you could include something along the lines of "have solar" and "plan to get solar" as options in the poll.
     

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