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Question about EV Value and environmental impact

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by bornnacadillac, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. bornnacadillac

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    I currently drive a 2001 BMW 3 series and have started thinking about buying a newer car. I watched the recent Tesla Model 3 presentation and was really impressed. One sticky point for me, not specific to Tesla but any EV platform has to so with where the power comes from. Specifically, if most EV drivers plug the car into their home system for power, aren’t they using coal or nuclear from local power company? Also, I see over 3,000 Supercharger locations in the U.S. where do they source power from? What is the argument for how this helps the environment.

    Thanks in advance for educating me.
     
  2. Big Dog

    Big Dog Member

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    the feds have a website which shows carbon footprint of EV cars in different states. Sure, coal is a major source of electricity in several states, but other states use Hydro or natural gas. In the states where coal is dominant for power, the EV still saves on carbon footprint, but not by much. In other states, there is a significant savings.

    Check out your state or neighbors. Of course the usual caveats of federal reports/studies apply. :)

    Alternative Fuels Data Center: Emissions from Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles
     
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  3. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    1. As grid power gets cleaner, an EV will get cleaner. An ICE (internal combustion engine) car is cleanest when new and gets dirtier as it ages. Most comparisons you see make the assumption that the ICE car remains at the new level.

    2. EVs don't pollute where people live and breath. It's easier to control the pollution from a few large sources (power plants) than it is from millions of small sources (cars).

    3. Many EV owners install solar panels. Even if you don't, you can still purchase 100% renewable energy plans from most electric providers. This puts as much electricity as you use in the grid in the form of renewable energy (even if the actual electrons you use may or may not be from renewable sources). It also sends a message to the utility company--money talks, well you know the rest of the line.

    4. There is a plan for Tesla to put in enough solar panels to more than cover the SC usage. Right now the emphasis is on build-out, so that won't happen for a few years, except in some cases, but the mission is for sustainable transportation, and the recent unveiling of the Model 3 indicates just how serious Tesla is about it.

    5. About the worst the detractors can come up with is that in states like West Virginia where power is 97% coal, the Prius is really the only car that is better than an EV in terms of CO (not in terms of other types of pollution). Thinking about it, the Prius is not a 2400 kg premium sports sedan, so you have to give up a lot to get ICE technology that's even close to EV technology.

    6. Once you drive a Tesla for a month, driving your current car will seem similar to driving a tractor.
     
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  4. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    First, you can find out exactly how "green" your wall power is:

    How clean is the electricity I use? - Power Profiler | Clean Energy | US EPA

    My personal opinion is the being green is nice, but is not the reason I like EV powertrains. The driving experience is superior to a BMW 3 series, especially in urban settings.

    Before you commit to a $35,000 EV, you might just want to get a $8,000 used one and try it out. If you don't like EVs, you sell it, and you lose almost nothing. However, it's like cocaine. The first snort is free, next thing you know, you're free-basing. Highly addictive.

    If you are truly worried about where your power comes from, check out your home and workplace electricity green status, then carpool or take public transportation. Best "green" technology is reducing the number of miles you drive, ie - move or change jobs.
     
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  5. Sudre

    Sudre Member

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    I always find these calculation made to be somewhat odd. Think about it. Currently for the most part no matter where you plug in you will pretty close to match the pollution of a gas car if not do better... according to THEIR calculations. They claim to look at everything when doing these calculations. I don't see how they can be.

    It takes about 250-350 watts/hr to drive a mile in a Tesla Model S. I've wired a gas station, pumps and all. Each gas pump draws power. There are other pumps moving the fuel. There are LOTS of lights in the fueling bay. All that electricity to put the fuel into the car is coming from the same coal power plant as my charging. The catch is I don't then burn the fuel and emit additional pollution in an EV. Sure the short time it takes for a gas car to fill up is not much power at the pump but it's still a few miles of range.

    With an EV you are charging at home so there doesn't even need to be an entire dedicated building wasting power 24/7 for fueling. Think about that. I know when I drive around my city at 2am there are latterly hundreds of empty gas station burning power with very few if any cars parked in them. Sure there will be superchargers for EVs sitting idle (in sleep mode) but it does not take nearly as many superchargers to keep and EV fleet running because most people will be charging at home.

    If you just think about it.... At least to me.... Something is missing in all these calculations for gas car pollutants. There are dozens of pumps running thousands of hours pumping that gas around. Do you think crude oil just puts itself on the tanker. Unloads itself into the refinery. Pumps itself around the refinery. Pumps the gas into the storage tank on its own. Storage tank to the distributor is pumped again. Then onto trucks that burn more fuel for finally delivery. The whole system is very inefficient and comes from an era when everything was very inefficient.

    I used to have a link that showed pretty easily that it takes about 7kWh to get that gallon of gas. Even in the coldest winter driving the most powerful Tesla that is almost 20 miles of range. 20 miles just making and delivering one gallon of fuel. That's where the pollution starts. The. The gas car has to burn it.

    And don't get me started on the "making of the battery" fluff. Yes we have to mine supplies just like we have to drill for oil. Yes we have to use electricity to create a battery pack but the Gigafactory in going to be solar and wind powered so that throws that argument out. All that is left is recycling the battery. Please show me the recycling for a brunt gallon of gas. At least the battery can be recycled, difficult or not.

    I have never seen a study done that seems to calculate things fully but after all that above being stated..... I would still drive an EV, any BEV, over an ICE any day now that I have driven an EV for over three years. The hassle free ownership, superior performance and in general fun drive make it a hands down win.
     
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  6. DrPhoton

    DrPhoton Member

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    I think a consequence of owning an EV is that it makes you more attentive to your energy use and the benefits of solar power. Before owning an EV, I knew that I was paying an electric bill every month, but I wasn't really that aware of the potential cost savings from having my own solar array at home. Owning an EV was the motivating factor in checking out the details and options. I was stunned to discover what a no-brainer it was to install a solar power system. Because of the high cost of electricity (and the fact that my utility has a tiered rate structure where the more I use, the more I pay per kWh) I was able to take the money I was spending on electricity and redirect it as payments on a home equity loan used to pay for the solar array. Not only does it produce enough energy to supply my home, and Model S, but there's enough left over for our Model 3 when it arrives. After 10 years (or maybe less) the loan will be paid off and the solar array will produce energy for at least another 15 years.
     
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  7. eloder

    eloder Member

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    A 100% coal-powered EV is still as clean as a Prius.

    100% coal power doesn't really exist anywhere, and dirty power is dropping rapidly in the grid. Gas cars don't get greener with age, EVs do.
     
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  8. MSEV

    MSEV Member

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    I drive a Model S, have a Model 3 on order, got my adult sons to order Model 3s.
    My electricity is rather coal dependent, so I have put up 7.6kW of solar.
    I will never (I hope, you never know) buy an ICE car again, EVs (like Tesla makes) are so much safer, quieter, faster, tech-filled, etc.
    As others have said, as my power company gets better (they are reducing coal and increasing wind power) my car (and home) get better.
    My EV gets better every year about emissions, which is not happen in quite the same way as ICE vehicles.
    We are, IMHO, getting near the tipping point, when BEVs are the future in enough people's minds that they will move towards dominance and the ICE will be in decline.
    Remember, OP, that most of the driving is around the home, so we are charging mostly at home.
    And as Tesla adds solar power to more and more superchargers (remember Elon is Chairman of the Board, I think it is, for Solar City which his cousin runs) the long distance driving will be more and more from renewables. We are moving toward sustainable, but not there yet. If we don't start, it won't happen. But enough are starting (over 325,000 reservations for Model 3s) and it is, I hope, happening.
     
  9. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    This is not true.
    A 100% coal powered EV is the equivalent of a 30mpg car.
    That is better than average, however not as good as a Prius.

    To the OP's question, one of the wonderful things about an EV is you have a lot of control over how clean it is.
    If you want something cleaner than your local grid, you can pay for renewables, or install solar or wind.
    With gas vehicles, you have no choice.

    In addition, the grid is getting cleaner as time goes by.
    Oil is getting dirtier (more energy is needed to pump the same amount of oil).

    Here is one of the better studies O have seen on the subject:
    How do EVs Compare with Gas-Powered Vehicles? Better Every Year…. - The Equation
     
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  10. NoPetrolDream

    NoPetrolDream Member

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    I've already experienced this feeling between my hybrid and my wife's ICE SUV. When I test drove a Model S recently, it was a natural transition from my car, whereas had I never experienced my particular hybrid car first, the S drive difference would have been radically sharper. As is the S is superior to my hybrid, but both blow away ICE. The latter now feel "agricultural" to me. Idling at stoplights? Stone age. Lots of noise but delayed torque until engine reaches favorable rev band? Neanderthal. A/C, power steering, and power brakes driven by ICE? Kludgy. The sound of a starter motor? And so on...
     
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  11. Topher

    Topher Energy Curmudgeon

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    How much *electricity* does it take to make a gallon of gasoline? 6kWh. How many people include that in their ICE footprint?

    Thank you kindly.
     
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  12. S'toon

    S'toon Knows where his towel is

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  13. MrJima

    MrJima Member

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    #13 MrJima, Apr 9, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
    EVs are inherently more efficient than gasoline powered vehicles regardless of the ultimate source of the fuel. Fossil fuel burning electric generation plants are significantly more efficient than the internal combustion engine in individual cars. At the car level, the ICE is only 18% to 20% efficient (source: Internal combustion engine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) with much of the energy lost through heat. Also at the car level, an EV is 75% efficient. But that doesn't take into account energy lost through a variety of activities including transporting the fuel, the efficiency of the generator or motor and the energy lost through heat, the electricity lost through transmission, the energy lost in the battery including converting the AC to DC and then back to AC for the EV. But even taking all that into account the full "well to wheel" efficiency of the EV is about twice that of the ICE. Energy Efficiency puts the well to wheel efficiency at about 30% for the EV and about 14% for the ICE. (See: Wells to wheels: electric car efficiency) One key reason that fossil fuel electric generation plants are more efficient than individual ICEs is that they capture some of the heat normally lost in the process.

    But wait, there's more. The grid can become 100% clean; ICEs cannot. Tesla's stated mission is to be a catalyst for an all EV future and a clean energy future. It starts with EVs replacing ICE automobiles and then a shift from fossil fuel generated electricity to clean energy electricity. Given the seemingly lackluster adoption of alternative energy to date it may seem ludicrous (to use a Tesla phrase!) to contemplate a 100% fossil free future. The average lifetime of an electrical generation power plant is 40 years. As solar power becomes cheaper (and the cost of solar panels has fallen 99% since 1971; the real cost today is largely in the construction/installation costs) and more efficient (which will happen) individuals will increasingly install roof top solar and power plants will increasingly move from fossil fuel to clean energy. This won't happen overnight but it will happen.

    It all starts with consumer behavior. One person buying an EV means zero. 325,000 people placing a deposit on the Model 3 is significant not because 325,000 EVs will matter but because it sends a very clear message to the automobile industry about consumer desire. In that sense the decision to place a deposit & purchase a Model 3 (or any other EV) matters significantly.
     
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  14. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    The Union of Concerned Scientists produce a nice MPG equivalent map. Here are a relatively new one and and one a couple of years old (2015 v 2012?).

    This shows in many places, that an EV is better than anything but a Prius, and it also shows, that the grid is cleaning up fast. So the EV you buy today, just keeps getting better with regards to emissions:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Mkorpal

    Mkorpal Member

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    The big question going forward is if electric vehicles really make some major gains, how will the grids handle a massive increase in loads. Hopefully distributed solar and advancements in energy storage can mitigate some of the impact. But it's still going to be a massive shift in the way energy is produced and distributed in the country.
     
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  16. bornnacadillac

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    Wow, thanks to everyone for such detailed comments, really helpful.
     
  17. N5329K

    N5329K Member

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    Most grids will be able to handle the additional loads imposed by electric vehicles quite easily; in general, EV's are recharged offpeak. Smoothing the utility's demand curve helps them, not challenges them, and allows for more efficient use of baseload plants as opposed to peakers.
    As for the relative "greenness" of EV's powered by grids powered by different mixes (coal, gas, nuclear, hydro etc) of generators, Argonne National Labs (with, of all people, GM) ran those numbers. They conducted a rigorous well-to-wheel analysis that compared ICE, fuel cell, hybrid and battery-powered vehicles. When the complete supply system is included (from coal extraction to the kilometer driven by the EV), the poster who compared an EV "powered by coal" with a Prius is correct. That represented the worst-case scenario for EV's.
    Read more here:
    GREET - Free and maintained
    Robin
     
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  18. DrPhoton

    DrPhoton Member

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    I'm wondering if there's going to be a potential destabilizing issue if the EV in every garage in a neighborhood begins drawing power at precisely Midnight. This type of behavior would result in an unusual demand curve unlike anything that exists on the grid today. The power load from all these vehicles would go from zero to maximum in a few seconds. Then as various vehicles become charged they would cease drawing power, resulting in a gradual fall-off after a few hours back to zero. It seems like the EV manufacturers are going to need to build in a randomization function into the start time. This would be simple for Tesla to add when the time comes, via a software update, but it will be more difficult for other EVs that don't update their software.

    It also seems like the utilities are going to need to reward people somehow for having a random start time for their charging. If they don't offer some incentive or reward, then why would people bother - it's a slight disadvantage to have your car finished charging later rather than sooner - what if you wake up early and decide to just head in to work. Thus, unless there's some type of incentive, individual drivers would simply choose to have their car start charging whenever the least expensive electricity becomes available.
     
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  19. Big Dog

    Big Dog Member

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    "I'm wondering if there's going to be a potential destabilizing issue if the EV in every garage in a neighborhood begins drawing power at precisely Midnight. This type of behavior would result in an unusual demand curve unlike anything that exists on the grid today."

    The grid is designed for max power usage, i.e., noon-3 pm in hot weather when AC is running in every office building and homes.

    Night usage is a blip in comparison to the day's requirements. Plus, EV's will take quite a few years before there is one in every garage on every block. Personally, when I get my 3, I don't know that I'd plug it in every night anyway. My RT commute is <50 miles, so I could charge every ~third day.
     
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  20. Topher

    Topher Energy Curmudgeon

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    The easy way to do this is to use those 'smart meters' they got us to put in, to transmit the current price to our charger. The charger then waits for the right time. And if the price gets really high, the charger sells power from the battery back to the grid for a profit...

    Thank you kindly.
     
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