Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret:
Pretty interesting set of facts and analysis. It will be interesting to see the responses from "scientists" here. Might be worth Elon Musk chiming in. This could do significant damage to EV case if not shot down.
I didn't waste my time reading the entire article, but its not a secret and its not that dirty.
If you haven't read this paper, you should: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-globa...
Living in Michigan, I know that my wife's Prius has lower emissions than my S, but the grid is getting cleaner and her car is getting less efficient. And the S is amazing and much cleaner than my previous car.
You'd think someone writing for the WSJ would understand investing, but sometimes investments don't have immediate returns. This includes investments in technology and innovation. Over the next century, we'll be better off that somebody did something disruptive.
It fails to take into account those of us who live in places that are heavily nuclear.
Ok, I read the article after my last post. Full of bad and selective math. A one point he mentions a 6 to 12 oz comparison, then later says EVs use 15 oz.
I grabbed a napkin and tried to make sense of it. He says an EV was built with the equivalent of 80,000 miles.
Using his numbers, 6 x 80,000 / 16 = 30,000 + 30,000 which is what he cites as the emissions to build. 60,000 lbs or 30 tons total.
What about the ICE? 12 x 80,000 / 16 = 60,000 + 14,000 is 74,000 lbs total. Not interesting enough to report.
Lets just say something about 15 oz and coal even though he already said "While electric-car owners may cruise around feeling virtuous, they still recharge using electricity overwhelmingly produced with fossil fuels. Thus, the life-cycle analysis shows that for every mile driven, the average electric car indirectly emits about six ounces of carbon-dioxide."
So didn't we already account for coal? How did we get to 15oz?
For those without napkins handy, using his numbers the break even is 42,667 miles, but I don't really trust his numbers.
Until is starts raining solar powered, biodegradable cars, driving will have a footprint. I'll never suggest otherwise.
There's so many assumptions in this article that he makes to prove his point, which is a shame because it could have been a decent article.
1) What car only gets driven 50,000 miles in its lifetime?
2) A Model S does might take 30k in CO2 emissions to build, but certainly not a Leaf. He doesn't compare apples to apples all the way through the article.
3) Who says the battery dies after 100k miles? If I get 20% less range after 100k miles, then I'm at 212 miles of range. Big deal.
I could go on. All I am learning from article such as this one (and the NYT article) is to never, ever believe anything that you read. All I know is that my S is fast, smooth, energy efficient, and a bargain at twice the price. My next one will be too.
Not that WSJ needs it, but could this have been published to spark a controversy ala NYT ? Even false info sells papers. - Or nowadays, causes website hits which generates more ad revenue.
I looked at the abstract list for the journal article he cited. the only thing that I could find that was close was an article for measuring the emissions of mining operations. I don't have access to the articles. Maybe someone here does and can find it.
I thought that the Lithium in Lithium Ion batteries was reusable in new LIion batteries. that should decrease the lifetime emissions of the Lithium (but perhaps not in the fabrication of the battery itself. In any case, I wonder if the ICE cost takes into account the "minihg" of the oil, the electricity to refine it and the emissions of transporting it to a gas station. I'm willing to concede the cost of pumping gas into the car as negligible.
On Tesla's website, you can see where the majority of your electricity comes from. 56% of the electric energy in the U.S. is produced from sources OTHER than coal.
But who cares about accuracy, let's just make sure we sell papers.
Go to the Book of Knowledge, Bjorn Lomborg is a sound sceptic in many ways (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjørn_Lomborg) and he has a good point in this article IF the carbon footprint is the issue. I think not.
I suggest we disregard the "Church of CO2 & Carbon Footprint" and focus on what is really important for most people; local and regional pollution! That is a concrete issue that is understood by most. Airborne soot and grime creating smog and stink to become a vague memory will be appreciated by all. Clear air to breathe is not controversial.
I live in Taiwan since late 90-ies and work in China and know what local/regional pollution is all about. Trust me. To reduce that particulate matter in the air that we breathe has to be the focus for the wellbeing of most. And it has to start somewhere. Inour case, the MS is for me a great start.
Believe it or not, but Chinese authorities are heavy handed on EVs and LNG vehicles as well as photovoltaic energy. There is things happening despite all the misery reported. It will change eventually. Recall the stories about the London fog. It killed people on bad days, a 100+ years ago.
As for the global gloom and doom including ice bears and melting ice caps, I'll attribute that to the sun, solar flares and ionisation of the atmosphere. Heresy with some I know. No intention to start that discussion. But in fairness, too much of the CO2 mumbo-jumbo is too conveniently creating too much money on too few hands. Check it out. Cap and trade? What bull. If you are serious about carbon footprint it is all about Cap. Period! No trade.
So - keep it simple; enjoy the MS (the lucky few of you that can...) with no emissions, the quiet and the insane motoring experience.
Det mener nå jeg :-)
About the author:
Expect this kind of thing. The ICE paradigm is deeply entrenched and those that profit and control it will NOT go quietly into the good night. While I know many here are very green in philosophy and many here bought the S because of that, imo, if Tesla survives and thrives it will be because they build a far better car that costs less to operate. This is what will persuade most people to make the switch.
Getting into the weeds about pounds of carbon will not sway the masses. When I tell people that I am driving for less than 3 cents a mile, THAT strikes home. If Tesla can survive long enough to put that cost of driving into a 40K car nobody will care squat about this kind of data mining.
I am thrilled to help that in the small way my buying the best car on earth did. The very, very best thing we can all do is continue to proselytize and DELIBERATELY target the people in our spheres that can actually buy one NOW.
Tesla MUST survive long enough to bring in GenIII. Nothing else matters.
Wow DocJay- I think you've been drinking the same flavor of KoolAid as I have. +1
Hey - the WSJ article is spreading to Norway too: http://www.hegnar.no/okonomi/politikk/article722409.ece
Coincidence that this has headlines in the two largest Tesla markets just like that, ? I think NOT!
Let's check where this pops up over the next few days. Will be interesting to see what lobby has launched the campaign and the consequences that maybe the reaction. My guess is that the US tax breaks is in the line of fire. I see similarities to the ethanol discussions....
"It fails to take into account those of us who live in places that are heavily nuclear."
Agreed. The article cherry picks results.
This is from my province. We are almost entirely done with coal. I believe the last two plants are about to be taken offline as well. In other words, we're fairly green in Ontario. I think our mix is a realistic example of what some other states or provinces could accomplish; base load using Hydroelectric or Nuclear and with renewables to augment. (Our use of gas plants still needs work though...)
I believe the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch. A man that has no need for facts. 'Nuff said.
@Hogfighter But who cares about accuracy ... sad, but true.
The dirtiest part of making an EV is the battery (and how to recycle), which can be, and should be under controlled by the government and manufactures. It doesn't matter what way you look at it, EV is still cleaner than ICE car overall. There are many ways to generate electricity and many utility companies offer mix-source (or 100% wind) as an option. Unless all ICE cars can run on petroleum-free bio oil, their cons still greater than EV, needless to say many wars can be avoided because of petroleum.
For a more balanced view:
You have to think and distinguish between local, regional, global issues. Big differences. For sure the battery is a significant contributing factor but making aluminium from bauxite through electrolysis, just as steel is made out of oxide out ore, is not at all negligible. Even wind is not clean. Far from carbon neutral that everybody like to tellus. 100% wind means tons of CO2 from steel, copper, coatings etc. Bio-oil is at best carbon neutral as the CO2 is returned (photosynthesis) to the hydrocarbon rich material such as trees, switch grass, stover, straw etc. Actually not really carbon neutral as factors contributing has to be factored in, but better as you won't liberate the mineral oils from deep down in the ground or shales. You are of course right, EVs despite it all are a much better proposition for local and regional pollution. The key.
But if you go into the "Church of CO2" we are all doomed and sinful and Beelzebub as long as we breath.
So sad that bias and bad science are so prevalent in the media. True, if you decide to keep the lifetime short and the electricity production dirty, you can tweak the numbers into looking not-so-good...and you can also do the opposite. How about some unbiased realism?
Here is another study that seems much less biased http://www.environment.ucla.edu/media_IOE/files/BatteryElectricVehicleLC...
It shows lifetime BEV at under half the CO2 cost of ICE using a longer lifetime and actual electricity production mix now and projected. And, from what I've seen, we EV owners are MUCH more likely to have solar on our rooftops...while gasoline production is getting dirtier (tar sands, etc). Remember, most of these studies also look at total lifetime *energy* use and calculate emissions from means of producing the energy. This is a little different than looking at emissions directly and it does *not* include *all* emissions. Figure 5 in the UCLA report shows this clearly - no contest.
I, for one, am thrilled that Tesla set up shop in the USA. The government spends money on much worse things (uh, like oil exploration subsidies!) than spurring a new industry here instead of letting enterprising folks elsewhere take another bite out of Detroit.
In fairness, Lomborg doesn't just say coal, and refers to fossil fuels, which, with natural gas and oil, make up a lot more than the 45%+ of our electricity, on average, that does come from coal. I agree with the comments above about why we own these cars. Although I have 111 solar panels and use no net electricity at our homes, business, or to drive the S, I own the car for its great technology, speed, etc., not because its make the world a better place. It doesn't. An EV may be slightly better in terms of environmental impact than an ICE (apparently at least debatable), but they still make an owner's carbon footprint a net cost, and way more than that individual's fair share of environmental resources. They are still rich guy's toys. Perhaps that will change with Gen III.
To the point about investing in the future, that may be relevant in the big picture, but not to this analysis. His study looks the individual vehicle cost in carbon, not the long term, or the fact that electricity will increasingly come from renewables. That's probably a legit approach, especially given the smug superiority and sanctimonious attitudes held by some greenies and EV owners. Lomborg has a pretty decent reputation, except to some very extreme warming science critics, and putting aside quibbles about which statistics one chooses over what time frame (and all of the numerical responses above have have disqualifying errors too), it is sobering that the analysis is even close.
Interesting factoid: Tesla Motors owns many more Ford F-250 and F-350 3/4 and one-ton diesel pickups with roll-back bodies than it has EV's in its entire demonstrator inventory. Every Service Center has a small fleet of those heavy trucks (six in Rockville) for the road rangers. It was jarring to see the Powerstroke Diesel insignia next to the Tesla logo on the pristine white trucks that TM just bought with our money. For those of us who dream of an all-EV world, or even significant market penetration, remember that our cars could not exist without bunker-oil-fed ships to bring the batteries, tires, etc.,18-wheelers to take the parts to the factory, and diesel-belching car carriers to deliver and service them.
Next time we feel all pleased about our cars' clean-world bonafides, we should also remember the ICE technology and support without which our toys would not be possible.
It is a valid point, but the WSJ article does itself a disservice by not presenting an apples to apples comparison, It just cherry picks disconnected facts and trys to make a point about of non sequiturs. In the end, it doesn't matter. People will buy what they want to buy, and the case of the model S there are so many other compelling reasons to buy it other than global CO2 levels. Personally I think the strongest environmental reason to buy the model S is to cut down city pollution levels. People are so used to city smog they don't realize that are marinating in crappy air. And the point needs to be made that you are not, in fact, just transferring where the pollution is made since there are many pollution free ways of making electricity and ICE cars are only 30% efficient while electric motors are 85% efficient. A look at the EPA MPGe ratings shows that clearly.
WSJ used to be a balanced, well reported newspaper which I subscribed to for years. After purchase by Murdoch it became notably right leaning and no longer balanced. I stopped reading and subscribing to it for this reason some time back. The editorial agenda at the paper should not be overlooked when reading its articles.
The math doesnt work for those of us in 75 to 80 percent renewable electricity states, e.g. Washington. Just drive behind one of these infernal combustion contraptions. Who you gonna believe? The WSJ, or your own lying nose?
A quick look over the article Cliff pointed to and the WSJ article - the only real difference is the going in assumption of the lifetime of a car... WSJ 90K, Cliff article 180K. The 3rd paragraph of the WSJ article is in line with Cliff's article (see figure 1).
Overall, the WSJ article isn't *wrong* -- there was a time 100K was the end of your the line for your car. People may hold on to cars longer now, but do most of them keep it for 180K? I know I keep mines fairly close to that - I doubt those who daily commute is 30 miles will - given that (accounting for only the daily commute) it would take 25 years to get to that number. BTW: my commute is closer to 120/day -- so the math is totally different.
So, the author presented his opinion (and like my dad always said, "opinions are like *@!holes, eveyone has them and they all stink") -- with data that supports it. We just differ on some of the assumptions used to come to the conclusions.
I agree totally with Docjay (and others) and I’ve sadly come to expect this type of yellow journalism going forward. Clearly the author isn’t letting reputable research and established facts get in the way of his world views and his desire for attention.
BTW, in this country alone we have 120 to 150 thousand gas stations. Remind me again - gas stations, gas pumps, etc. are powered by??
Don't waste your time posting the real facts here, go post on the WSJ article comments. We need to fight this type of disinformation by getting the truth out.
There's truth, and there's tilt. This article blends both.
That every car manufactured has a carbon footprint, is truth. To suggest that this wipes out any EV benefit is tilt.
Like Peterson's articles, this too is selective about what to compare, to achieve the tilt. Peterson for example, suggests that the electric motor takes as much co2 to build as its gas equivalent. This is false. Look at at mass and complexity of these two machines side by side - a gas motor takes much more energy to manufacture.
These "so what" comparisons also tend to ignore the electricity used to produce gasoline. (3kWh per gallon or so).
What I think is unassailable:
1. EVs allow us to use non-carbon energy. Gas does not.
2. Lithium batteries can be recycled. So the steady-state mining cost will drop significantly.
3. Electric drive trains last much longer, so the steady state replacement cycle costs are much better than gas vehicles.
If you are fair, you know there is some nonzero cost to switch to EVs. But in the steady state, it is far more efficient, and has the potential to supply all our driving with no continuing co2 footprint.
My point about the battery building process being dirty was to stress a primary area where an EVs manufacture differs from an ICE. Both use steel, plastic and a million other common components so the primary gain for the ICE, at creation, is with the battery. Over the life of both cars though, the EV has a far greater chance of reducing that footprint than the ICE. The amount of gain would be impacted heavily by the source of the electricity but even if it stays as it is today, controlling pollution at a factory/reactor level is much more feasible than trying to control it at the individual car level.
The fact is, every answer we have to this problem at the moment has flaws but that should not stop any of them from being explored. EVs represent one possible solution to the question and one that I personally believe in. The manufacture and support of EVs is in its infancy and, though there will be bumps in the road, I am excited by
the possibilities they represent. If bio-oil, fuel cells or pixie dusts comes down the road with a better solution though, they'll have my support as well. The end goal is, after all, not about which technology is used but which provides the best solution
Where in href="http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf" http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf is the issue of electric vehicle construction discussed?
I did not see that anywhere. Did I miss something?
I don't think Lomborg is irrationally hostile to EVs. Anti-carbon emission fans of EVs need to look at the emissions in the battery construction.
Newspapers should be barred from drawing conclusions. Our local paper says stupid things about economics all the time. Difference is I can shout them down.
In this article the WSJ asserts that the tax credit is a bad deal for taxpayers because of the math in the article. First let's assume its correct, but then we have to imagine that every plant used to build car parts doesn't wash their output. And then we have to agree that carbon emissions are the only pay-off.
For my money getting the country out of the oil import business is job #1. Not spending trillions on wars in the middle east will be a big win. Every time we burn coal or use nuclear or even wind and solar, we get closer to that.
I fail to see how continuing to buy ICE cars helps that important goal.
It reminds me of that Frontline that shed some light on how global warming was dismantled.
Anyone familiar with Lomborg should know that his writings are to be taken with a lot of salt.
Full life cycle assessments of EV's have been done by far better informed people and universities. The usual outcome is that EV's are overall a little better wrt CO2 emissions than ICE's. Say in the order of 10-30%. Google for "electric vehicles life cycle assessment" and you will see that various independent reports come up with similar results.
But that is now. We also have to look at the future. Things can only tilt in favor of the EV. The electricity supply is being cleaned up at a rapid pace. Large scale manufacturing of batteries has only just started. It will not only only lower costs, but also increase the energy efficiency of the production processes. Otoh, the decline in conventional oil means more oil from tar sands and shale deposits. The EROI is getting lower and lower. Gasoline is getting dirtier by the day. The lithium and other materials in batteries and motors can be recycled over and over again. Oil can not be recycled, you can burn it only once.
Also this, just to fit his agenda:
"In addition, more than $5.5 billion in federal grants and loans go directly to battery and electric-car manufacturers like California-based Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors."
Completely inaccurate, says "grants and loans", while Tesla (and Fisker) received loans, relatively small. Then Ford only took $5.9 billion in loans from the same program, but why mention that...
Most of the article focused on lack of charging stations nationwide.
Tiebreaker - completely inaccurate? Tesla receives significant direct government credits in cash for EV battery production in addition to the discounted loan. TM also benefits directly from a government subsidy in the form of a $7,500 payment to discount the purchase price of each car sold.
We can debate the merits of these programs, but TM could not exist without actual and real government OPERATING subsidies, plus the loan.
The program that Ford used was a completely different program (a bridge loan during the crisis) AND they have fully repaid it. Just to get the facts straight.
To those who say that WSJ has a bias and "newspapers should be banned" from stating an opinion - did I really read that here from an otherwise seemingly sentient person? - now we are going to repeal the first ammendment? Wow.
To be clear, the piece appeared on the op-ed page. It could just as well have been in the NYT. It wasn't written or edited by the newspaper or a journalist of any kind. It was written by a scientist - one who believes in manmade global warming, but who has some different views on priorities and solutions than the orthodox warming science community typically accepts/demands of its accolytes. He is still welcome at global warming conferences and is respected by those who differ with him, except non-scientific reactionaries, and a FEW of his colleagues who refuse to acknowlege any views that vary from thiers.
So please stop with this media consipracy nonsense. I believe the NYT Broder article was a hit piece. But it wasn't funded or incented by big oil as some here have alleged. To say otherwise is uninformed speculation at best and conspiracy theorism at worst. Either is unbecoming. Today's piece probably does reflect the general conservative and skeptical view in the WSJ editorial room, but it is based on a real study, prepared independently, by academics in the field, and written outside of the WSJ. It wasn;t just bad journalism by a foolish reporter, as was the Broder piece. Recent articles on the same WSJ page were authored specifically for the WSJ by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and numerous other Democrats. Obama has written oped artciles for the WSJ several times, so apparently HE doesn't see it as an illegitmate outlet, albeit one with a different world view, but one that is respected enough to participate in the exchange of ideas.
Facts and opinion can often be confused. Opinions drove the following headlines, both of which are factual, but misleading. On the very same day in the recent campaign:
Declared the New York Times across the top of Page One:
“Top Corporations Aid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign”
Declared the Wall Street Journal across the top of Page One:
“Campaign’s Big Spender. Public-Employees’ Union Now Leads in Independent Election Outlays”
P_D - are you sure ? Ford received the 5.9B from the same DOE program Nissan got a 1.4B , Tesla 465M and Fisker 525M. Bridge loans were given to the other 2 but not Ford.
This was discussed briefly at the top of the following thread:
Where I posted a link to some articles including:
To make a fare comparison, you need to consider the CO2 produced in transport and refinery of the fuel.
I have seen it said that battery operated cars using coal power produce less CO2 then petrol, if you consider the entire process.
Not because there is anything good about manufacturing batteries or burning coal, but because mining, shipping, refining, and burning petrol is a very inefficient process.
His logic is missing two major points.
How much fossil fuel does our military have to use protecting us from the oil money profits we send to the middle east.
The majority of charging is done at night. The power plants can not turn off at night so if the power is not used it is wasted. In fact many times in the middle of the night power companies have to pay to get rid of their extra power!
iholtzman, Point one may have been valid in past decades when wars were in the middle east were fought over oil control. However, within a few years, North America will be a net energy exporter due to huge reserves that keep growing as new discoveries and extraction techniques emerge. The U.S. alone will surpass Saudi Arabian and Russian oil production by the end of this decade. We will still have to worry about world access to oil and the related security issues, but the OPEC states have waning power already, and it will soon be much less.
From the NYT: "The International Energy Agency reported this week that the United States was poised to become the world’s biggest oil producer thanks to new drilling technologies in shale fields across the country. With oil production going up each month, not only are imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries going to drop, the energy agency predicted, but the United States will also become a net oil exporter by 2030. " The known but untapped oil reserves are bigger today than at any time in history - and the new sources are not in the middle east.
First of all, Tesla's scientific analysis shows that the manufacturing of the Model S is 50% less CO2 output than the standard ICE vehicle.
Second, since a BEV changes the source of the CO2 emisssions to a single point source, instead of millions of vehicles (hopefully, Tesla's manufacturing can ramp up to these kinds of numbers down the road) the emissions control is easier to clean up there than for every ICE vehicle, adding thousands of daollars to the cost of each vehicle. Right there, this means its more cost effective to produce a BEV than ICE.
Third, add a PV system to you household and you further help in the overall reduction of the CO2 emissions to charge the BEV for the life of the vehicle.
This affords the people the best of all worlds when choosing to buy a Model S and my $$ will be on Tesla to come through. Both in stock and the Model S!!
Could you provide a link to the Tesla statement about the Model S taking 50% less CO2 output than the standard ICE vehicle to build? I'm sure a number of us would love to be able to show how clean our Model S is, as we do our mandantory show-n-tell...
P-Dave - Did you mean to say "Mr. Lomborg is a "political" scientist", as he has no degrees in the true science field. His opinions are just that - his opinions.
There are two major areas why EV's are better.
1.An EV is the ultimate flex fuel vehicle. It does not matter where we get the energy from, it can be easily converted to electricty. This frees us to use more enviorenment / political / economic friendly energy sources as an when they become available.
2. It is the most efficient means of converting stored energy to motion that we have.
To me these amount to the best insurance for the future. It will allow us to keep the oil for more important things like plastics and other chemicals that are difficult to make any other way.
Fracking for oil is just another way of using up limited resources. It is better not to use it all up by burning it. Think about our great grand children...
Forget the great grand-children. When, in all history, could a generation have "preserved" resources for progeny that they actually cared about? It is arrogant madness to imagine such a resource could even be identified. Could someone in 1900 have known what we use and need now? Could they have "saved" some for us?
@Pungoteague_Dave - hats off to your professorship and most of your opinions, but here I don't see the facts. The quote deals with "grants and loans", while Tesla only got a loan, and repaying it early. Ford got a $5.9 billion loan from the same DOE program, but nobody seems to care.https://lpo.energy.gov/?projects=ford-motor-company
The $7,500 tax credit (not payment) was discussed elsewhere in the article, not subject of the quote.
Aside from whales, of course, because we now like whales, not because they're "useful", much less vital resources.
When are we going to hear a response from Elon on this?
In BC where I'm based, we have 90% of our power from hydro projects... and I'm involved in a company that's building wind farms to contribute to that mix. The energy mix certainly plays into the Model S greeness and I'd hope that with recycling of these cars, now that their components are in the system, will make future EVs even greener.
At some point in the future I look forward to a Model S stripping/recycling process as well.
What a pathetic attempt at journalism. I did not see any data in it that included the other things, besides the fuel, that go into operating an ICE. How about the oil, transmission fluid, coolant and oil, air, fuel filters etc. that has to be refined/manufactured and transported to service the ICE and then hauled away to be disposed of or recycled. What about all the trucks that deliver the fuel to the gas stations and all the associated energy etc. to manufacture operate and maintain them. And on and on.
In fairness you would need to do the same for BEV's.
My reasons for geeting a Model S (got my delivery button 3/8) was for fun, to awake each morning to a full charge, never needing to stop at a gas station, and to stop being ripped off by big oil.
If being geen was my priority I would have purchased running shoes.