Electric VS ICE and which causes more Co2 ultimately

Electric VS ICE and which causes more Co2 ultimately

Some good articles out there on on Co2 emissions, Internal Combustion vs Electric cars.

Sounds like if your electricity is all coal generated, Co2 cost per mile in an electric car isnt much better, or worse, than what your average gas powered vehicle produces, whereas that improves with natural gas, and ultimately becomes zero with solar, wind and nuclear.

This leads me to wonder if everyone switched to electric cars, would wind and solar alone meet the demand? I'm thinking realistically nuclear is going to play a big part in becoming truly C02 free once electric becomes the norm.

pyrofer | 7 April 2016

Even with coal fired power stations BEV has a lower total cradle to grave carbon cost than ICE.

When people push the FUD about electric cars causing more carbon in the end because of production costs or coal powered power stations I want to punch them in the face.
I have to breath the air in a city, we need real facts and real change.

Time to ban diesel cars outright.

pyrofer | 7 April 2016

Just noticed your question seems mainly related to cost per mile. Nuclear is essential here. Renewable energy is heavily funded by government. If we want real cheap clean electric Nuclear is the way to go.

lock123 | 7 April 2016

Well, debates on exact Co2 costs for given sources aside, its obvious that taken as a whole electric cars are going to produce much less. Anyway, fossil fuel generated electricity will be going away at some point, so whats next?

I guess my main question is whats it going to take to become completely Co2 free in the long run. It will be interesting to see if current renewables - which technically include biomass, wind, solar, hydro and geothermal - will be enough to power a few billion peoples vehicles without additional sources like nuclear or yet to be determined technology.

acuoio | 7 April 2016

It will take the ability to store energy that tips the scales. Solar and wind are great, however you can't store them in a feasible way. Hydro and nuclear are great options if you can persuade the enviro-geeks to allow it. Big batteries are what need to be invented - we already have the little ones (coal and oil). | 7 April 2016

It's also interesting to note that an usually high percentage of EV owners also have solar power and use little if any net grid power. This fact is often left out of the EV charging by fossil fuels debate. Most studies just look at how electrical power is generated (at power plants) and don't even consider rooftop solar.

The second issue is EVs can charge at midnight to 6am, when the electrical grid has excess power from non-CO2 sources such as wind, geothermal, nuclear, and hydroelectric. These sources are always running, so if the power is not used, it just goes to waste. It's one reason the costs in this time period (for time-of-day metering) is usually less than 25% of the daytime rates.

carlk | 7 April 2016

~6 kWh of electricity is used for each gallon of gasoline refined. Case closed.

carlk | 7 April 2016

Then again EV and renewable energy have to go hand in hand. EV's on the road can eventually use 100% renewable energy but ICE cars have to use 100% fossil fuels forever. There is no arguments here.

Tropopause | 7 April 2016


Exactly! Elon essentially said with the electricity we'd save by not refining oil to gasoline, the world would have enough electricity to power BEV's without any grid expansion.

He's a smart man.

flight505 | 7 April 2016

As Elon Musk pointed out, an area of 100 miles by 100 miles in solar panels can power the entire United States. Many of these panels can be on roof tops. The energy is distributed. The more panels they build, the lower the cost.

Wind energy? In Texas, wind provided 45 percent of Texas’s electricity for 17 straight hours one windy day in December of 2015. The potential is there.

The sun is a giant fusion reactor in the sky from which we can harvest energy, no need for nuclear power plants, which are dirty.

carlk | 7 April 2016

Op I did not see you follow up question. Here is your answer by Elon. He has said electricity used to refine gasoline in this country alone is enough to power all cars on the road if they are EV. All the burning of fossil fuel for ICE is for nothing. How funny is that if you think about it.

The electricity source is already there. All we need to do is to make it clean/cleaner.

BTW if you could not figure out how this could be it is because EV is 3~4 times more energy efficient than internal combustion engine vehicle. ICE is basically a heat engine where most energy is wasted as exhaust heat.

carlk | 7 April 2016

EV advantages:
*** Instant torque-- No "engine" hesitation whatsoever under any driving conditions.
*** High efficiency and high efficiency that is not sacrificed by high power output capability. (You checked mileage of Hellcat and those AMG's and M's lately)
*** No toxic gas emission while doing it.

Aren't those goals ICE car companies spend hundreds of billions and tried hard to reach for decades but still hopelessly failed in comparison to EV. Is there still any doubt that it's game over for ICE?

flight505 | 7 April 2016

...electricity used to refine gasoline in this country alone is enough to power all cars on the road if they are EV.

Very interesting!!! Thanks for bringing this statistic to our attention!!!

JAD | 7 April 2016

@carlk, while "...electricity used to refine gasoline in this country alone is enough to power all cars on the road if they are EV." I believe is true, I also believe the oil and gas companies create most of their electricity themselves in the process, so that can't really be used to power the EV fleet without burning oil. We do need more solar, wind, etc, but we are starting down a path with a positive end in site. Oils path always had a negative end in site, where eventually, it would run out or get too expensive, or kill us with pollution, or war.

Red Sage ca us | 7 April 2016

The Great State of West Virginia has something like 95.5% coal fired power plants as their source of electric energy. There are about 1.8 million people who live there. You could probably find more people than that within a five mile radius of my house here in Los Angeles.

FelixMendeldog | 8 April 2016

Nuclear is not the way to go. Rooftop solar, smart grid, stationary storage like the tesla power wall— these are the way to go.

Solarwind | 8 April 2016

$10000 in solar produces all i can use in car plus most of house. bill went from $325 down to $110 per month.

kaffine | 8 April 2016

Nuclear, hydro, and geothermal do not produce electricity unless it is being used. All of them can throttle back when demand is reduced. Nuclear they have control rods that reduce the chain reaction lowing the heat output from the core thus reducing the power output. Hydro they control the amount of water flowing through the turbine using large valves.

PV solar can not really be controlled (pole mounted could be turned away from sun but a great way to throttle it). Other forms of solar can be controlled some however it doesn't make much sense to throttle it back when you are not paying for fuel. Wind there is some ways to throttle them depending on windmill design again not much reason to throttle it back since the fuel is free better to throttle back other sources to compensate. This is one reason power companies don't like renewable power sources is they are not as reliable or controllable as traditional power plants. If utility scale power storage becomes a reality then it would help a lot.

The grid does not readily store electricity (at this time) so if the electricity is being generated it is being consumed otherwise you would get voltage fluctuations.

Chunky Jr. | 9 April 2016

Which is a more efficient use of energy?
1) generating electricity, storing it in a battery, and then use that to power a very efficient motor
2) generating electricity, using that to refine gasoline, and then burning that gasoline to power an inefficient engine? | 9 April 2016

@kaffine - Good points and makes it a bit clearer how power is generated and controlled, but the capital costs of these non CO2 producers means that producing more electricity (as needed) in off hours costs very little, while using coal, diesel and natural gas costs about the same no matter when it is used to produce electricity. Sorry for the simplifications I made earlier.

aroyston | 9 April 2016

We've recently installed rooftop solar, a good sized battery pack and two home car charging stations. We'd love to give our excess back to the grid, but because Hawaii changed the net metering policy a week AFTER we applied, we still don't know where we stand with that.

phition42 | 9 April 2016

Storage is being created as we speak in the form of car batteries. A plugged in car will more than likely become part of the national energy grid. It's been talked about already and IMHO it will be coming.
Nuclear may not be totally clean but give me nuclear everyday of the week over the current form of hydrocarbon based power generation. It's potential damage vs inevitable damage. I think everybody needs to be realistic about the ability to produce renewable energy, if it's possible it's a long ways away and in order to live lives in ways that have become acceptable to us and is becoming more desired in places where its only a dream,
a source of power needs to come to the fore that replaces the current forms and renewable is not even close.

Johnn_hardy | 9 April 2016

I live in Arizona and put in a solar sysrem in December of 2012. I took the recommended size and increased it by 50% because I knew I would be buying a BEV. My Model arrived at the first of the year and for the first quarter I used 1mWh of power. I know because I put a meter on my 50 amp NEMA 14-50 circuit. So, my usage is 100% carbon free. The solar system produces about 13mWh per year and the house uses about 8mWh per year.

Red Sage ca us | 9 April 2016

If 1% of the 1.8 million people in the Great State of West Virginia were to adopt fully electric vehicles as a means of transportation, that would be a whole 18,000 cars. Something tells me that will probably take a while in those parts.

Interestingly, there are 7 Cadillac, 8 Lincoln, 36 Ford, and 26 Chevrolet locations in WV. A grand total of ZERO Tesla Stores/Galleries, though. I wonder why?

lock123 | 10 April 2016

Super interesting info on solar, would be great if it could meet all our needs.

@Solarwind- we had checked into solar with the local supplier and was told to cover our rural $200-250 a month electric bill would require $25000 of panels. This is without having an EV yet to charge.

Would like more info on who you used, where you are located, etc.

Also eager to hear more peoples experiences with solar.

archvillain | 10 April 2016

Power storage is nice for renewables, but soon won't be all that necessary. In the old grid system (that we still use) power generation had to be matched to whatever the load (demand) was, so powerplants where the output can be controlled are critical.

But we're heading towards a future where the big load on the grid will be recharging cars, and the thing about recharging cars is that for the most part no-one cares if the car take 8 of its 14 hours overnight in the garage to charge, or if it takes 3, or which time of night it charges in, and soon that can be controlled remotely by the utility. So instead of controlling supply to match demand, the future grid will timeshift demand to match supply. (Or more accurately, will constantly tweak both supply and demand for maximum efficiency)

archvillain | 10 April 2016

(There is at least one trial programs in CA for shifting demand to match supply. People who allow the utility some leeway in when to charge are getting paid by the utility, and at any time can override the utility (in exchange for not getting paid for that day) should there be a day when it's important to them that the car be charging Right Now!)

acuoio | 10 April 2016

I'm surprised folks who are worried about too much CO2 are not more so worried about too many batteries...

David Trushin | 10 April 2016

This particular thread has been tossed around ad infinitum on the forum. But I will add what i've said already 5 times. Evs concentrate pollution at a small number of sites. You can convert a coal generating plant to a clean source(you choose your favorite to fill in here) and immediately all the evs that charge from that plant are cleaner. To get the same result from ICEs you have to convert them all. Much more efficient.

As far as batteries are concerned, at end of life you can reconvert them to raw materials and use theses to build new batteries in a matter of weeks as opposed to millions of years to convert the output of gas powered cars to new energy storage..

Solarwind | 10 April 2016

@ lock123 You may not be to far off on cost estimate commercially installed. I ordered my panels from DIY solar out of CA. I am in central MT. I did all my own installation of 37 panels, however I also have wind and 10 panels are tied into the wind inverters so I didn't have inverter expense included with them. 27 panels use Enphase inverters which make the price with panel a little over $1.5 per watt, 250 watt panels. My installation cost was less then $200.

I have never made anything on wind, of 5 or 6 different windmill I have tried, they have all flew apart or burned out before they earned 1/4 of there cost, not to mention my installation work.
You will have to drive your EV a lot to exceed $40 per month.

dnland | 10 April 2016

We installed an 8kw system in 2009. We were paying $325/mo for power on average, now our annual power bill is $300-400. The economics have completely changed today vs 7 years ago since each state/utility may or may not have a rebate and the price of solar has dropped significantly. I believe there is still the 30% tax credit for solar installations and many utilities offer very low rate loans-I think ours was 2-3%. System paid for itself in 5 years, has a 25 year warranty and expected life of at least 40 years. Think I'll add on when the Model 3 comes. $0 maintenance cost to date. If you own and plan on staying put for a while, it's a no brainer. Plus adds value to the home if you decide to move on.

bb0tin | 11 April 2016

Already, new nuclear plants are more expensive than new wind and solar, even without subsidies.
The cost of wind and solar continues to drop, while the cost of nuclear continues to rise.

danielpf | 11 April 2016

Nuclear energy is heavily subsidized indirectly by the general population since if they had to be insured for risks at the cost that insurance companies would find correct, the cost would be so high that economically this kind of energy production would not make sense.
So in the case of accidents, like Fukushima, suddenly a small part of the population pays the high price that has not been payed by the rest of population for a long time.

bb0tin | 11 April 2016

It is also the government who pays for the resulting mess. Nuclear also gets large financial aid from governments. Nuclear is simply not economic, compared to wind/solar, on a level playing field.

topher | 18 April 2016

1) Nuclear is not cheap. If it was companies would be building nuke plants. No one is, even with massive government subsidies. And no, don't blame it on eco-people. If they had the power to stop nukes, they would stop fracking. Wind is cheaper unsubsidized then nuclear is subsidized.
2) There is plenty of power in renewables. The Sun shines more on the Earth in a day than all fossil fuels combined. Current increases in installed solar PV in the US put us at 100% (if we want) by 2030. 1% now, doubling every 2 years.
3) Estimates are that we could have 2 Million EVs before they would begin to impact the grid negatively at all. Currently they are helping the grid (when charged at night).
4) Plenty of ways to store large quantities of solar and wind energy. They are correspondingly massive projects, but not technically difficult.
5) PV Solar is EASY to control. Put a panel out in the sun, and see what happens (hint: nothing).
6) Don't look at the total cost of solar PV panels. Look at the monthly cost of servicing the loan for the solar panels, and compare it to your electric bill. Then you can consider, not the payback time, but rather the time until free.

But really, that is all irrelevant. We will run out of oil, uranium, coal gas, and atomospheric carbon carrying capacity. If we want to continue on the planet, we need something that won't run out. And as Elon says, why run the stupidest experiment in the world, if there is no possibility of a successful outcome?

Thank you kindly.