Electric vehicles emit more CO2 than diesel ones, German study shows

Spectre

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http://brusselstimes.com/business/technology/15050/electric-vehicles-emit-more-co2-than-diesel-ones,-german-study-shows

Electric vehicles in Germany account for more CO2 emissions than diesel ones, according to a study by German scientists.
When CO2 emissions linked to the production of batteries and the German energy mix - in which coal still plays an important role - are taken into consideration, electric vehicles emit 11% to 28% more than their diesel counterparts, according to the study, presented on Wednesday at the Ifo Institute in Munich.

Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt and manganese used for batteries consume a great deal of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 tonnes of CO2. Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.

The CO2 given off to produce the electricity that powers such vehicles also needs to be factored in, they say.

When all these factors are considered, each Tesla emits 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is more than a comparable diesel vehicle produced by the German company Mercedes, for example.

The German researchers therefore take issue with the fact that European officials view electric vehicles as zero-emission ones. They note further that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per km by 2030 corresponds to a “technically unrealistic” consumption of 2.2 litres of diesel or 2.6 litres of gas per 100 kms.

These new limits pressure German and other European car manufacturers into switching massively to electric vehicles whereas, the researchers feel, it would have been preferable to opt for methane engines, “whose emissions are one-third less than those of diesel motors.”
That's not gone well.
 

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To be a bit of a devil's advocate here and to paraphrase [I think] @Blind_Io while the amount of shit might be the same there is a difference between having a little bit of shit on your shoe vs a ton of shit at a sewage treatment plant.
From a public health standpoint it's better to have no emissions in cities and more emissions at some [relatively] remote factory, than less emissions at factory and more at each tail pipe. There is also the fact that it is easier to clean up one large pipe than many small ones. If a large portion of your fleet is electric, switching 10 fossil based power plants to say nuclear makes all the electric cars instantly cleaner.
How much CO2 is produced mining, making, and transporting fuel?
I'd wager much less, battery production is high tech, and requires a lot more equipment. Crude oil mining and refining is relatively low tech. You also can't stuff batteries into a pipe and push em hundreds of miles.
Additionally keep in mind that petrochemicals are used in many more facets of human life than just car power. Almost everything you touch in your daily life has some amount of petrochemicals in it, including say plastics that are used to make the battery.
 

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This whole study is based on the assumption that production and electrical generation is powered by coal - not nuclear or renewable energy. This seems like a pretty biased conclusion, one could also say that electric cars, their production, and their supply chain is the most easily updated to reduce CO2 emissions.
 

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This whole study is based on the assumption that production and electrical generation is powered by coal - not nuclear or renewable energy. This seems like a pretty biased conclusion.
It's not an assumption, it's the current reality where study was done.
 

Spectre

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This whole study is based on the assumption that production and electrical generation is powered by coal - not nuclear or renewable energy. This seems like a pretty biased conclusion, one could also say that electric cars, their production, and their supply chain is the most easily updated to reduce CO2 emissions.
As Priz notes, that’s actually what the German generating grid consists of in large part. This isn’t a predictive study, it’s based on the German situation as it is right now, in reality. And the reality is that much of Germany’s electricity comes from the burning of coal - not least of which because as it turns out, renewable is not all that suitable for constant base loads.

Or, put another way, if you have an electric vehicle in Germany today, what you actually have is a coal-burning car that produces more CO2 than the conventional option. This isn’t speculation or prediction, this is the cold hard facts on the ground in Germany. Said coal burning, incidentally, causes radioactives to be released in the atmosphere. Last I checked, that was a lot worse than gasoline emissions...
 
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A couple more things to take into consideration, the batteries have a useful life longer than 10 years. Then they can be reused as off, or even grid storage for a PV or wind power system.

Then there is how the power plants are used. They tend to run for days or weeks at a time. Even when one is fired up to increase power production, it is preheated by waste heat from a power unit at the same power facility. This in direct opposition to how cars are used. Each one generally starts cold, spews the most toxic stuff until the catalytic converter gets hot, gets shut down, cools off, then has to start again.
 

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It's not an assumption, it's the current reality where study was done.
Which is something that we can change. You can't ever power an internal combustion engine by anything but combustion, but an electric car can get it's energy from combustion (natural gas/coal), sun, wind, nuclear energy, or even ocean waves.

Can we start calling solar panels "Fusion Collectors?" it would make them much cooler.
 

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I see Spectre’s point but it’s only if we continue to push BPEV and FCEV technology that will force the infrastructure to adapt to accommodate.

I stand by the point I have made countless times on these boards that if we use nuclear and renewable energy to produce hydrogen in quantity to make fuel cell tech viable we can all enjoy a risk free future and breathe more easily.
 

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Which is something that we can change. You can't ever power an internal combustion engine by anything but combustion, but an electric car can get it's energy from combustion (natural gas/coal), sun, wind, nuclear energy, or even ocean waves.
I've already mentioned in my response that it is [in theory] easier to clean up energy production than individual vehicles. Wouldn't bet on ocean waves though, they aren't particularly good for how we generate power.
Can we start calling solar panels "Fusion Collectors?" it would make them much cooler.
Photovoltaic cells sounds pretty bad ass if you ask me.
I stand by the point I have made countless times on these boards that if we use nuclear and renewable energy to produce hydrogen in quantity to make fuel cell tech viable we can all enjoy a risk free future and breathe more easily.
No matter how we go with electrics we would have to have quite a large overproduction of energy, from what I remember battery storage is only about 80% efficient and hydrogen is 60% or so. It's difficult enough to imagine that we could overproduce enough to do a nearly complete switch to battery power, HFC switch is basically a non starter, maybe in some very specific applications like long haul freight.
 

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I’m not too surprised by those numbers with the materials involved in producing modern batteries.

As far as power generation, I got an idea of the raw power that lives below Iceland last year and think that they could produce hydrogen. Storing it or piping it away could be interesting though. In the long term, hacking plants to generate power for us while cleaning our air at the same time is being worked on and I can’t really see any downsides to that.
 

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Which is something that we can change. You can't ever power an internal combustion engine by anything but combustion, but an electric car can get it's energy from combustion (natural gas/coal), sun, wind, nuclear energy, or even ocean waves.

Except that right now, and in the near term, that isn't going to change. Germans will be powering cars with coal for at least the next half decade; this report will remain accurate until and unless something changes there - so that means, yes, the electric cars are big, nasty polluters!

Also, about that ocean wave thing....

Ocean wave power is hideously expensive and surprisingly impractical.

Yes, internal combustion engines require combustion. That's no different than pointing out that electric cars require, uh, electricity. But you can run different IC engines on different fuels, just as you can charge an electric vehicle from a theoretical array of sources.

Existing gasoline four stroke engines can be made to run on: gasoline, alcohol, natural gas, methane, hydrogen gas (though this one's really ugly and expensive to do) and a few more that escape me at the current time.
Existing diesel engines can be made to run on: diesel, biodiesel, kerosene, jet fuel, waste vegetable oil, natural gas, methane, used motor oil, butanol, producer gas, dimethyl ether, hydrogen and several other options.

Nice thing about burning hydrogen... your exhaust product is water - H20.
 
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Spectre

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A couple more things to take into consideration, the batteries have a useful life longer than 10 years. Then they can be reused as off, or even grid storage for a PV or wind power system.
Early reports about attempting this on a commercial scale seem to indicate that battery re-use like this is going to be less successful than previously thought. There is also the minor little problem of disposal once the battery pack is useless - which is rather important now that China has said they're not accepting any foreign recycling material.

Then there is how the power plants are used. They tend to run for days or weeks at a time. Even when one is fired up to increase power production, it is preheated by waste heat from a power unit at the same power facility. This in direct opposition to how cars are used. Each one generally starts cold, spews the most toxic stuff until the catalytic converter gets hot, gets shut down, cools off, then has to start again.
That's not how modern natural gas turbine plants work. There is no preheating required and the units are spun up and down (or even on/off) as demand dictates.

In fact, because 'renewables' are so unreliable and modern natural gas plants are near-line demand scalable and throttleable, many systems have installed natural gas generating plants to fill in when the renewables (unsurprisingly) can't provide the needed base load. The largest wind farms in the world are in Texas... and they are so good at supplying electricity needs that the natural gas plants are often running at full output to make up for the lack of production from the wind farms.

I would also point out that Texas has invented a zero carbon emissions natural gas plant:
 
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prizrak

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IMO the only real solution to power generation is nuclear*, specifically thorium based reactors that pretty much solve all the issues that we currently face with uranium. Unfortunately no one seems to be working on those as NIMBYs and other various idiots essentially killed the idea of nuclear as a workable power source.

*Perhaps with some natural gas backup for quick demand ramp up
 

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HFC switch is basically a non starter, maybe in some very specific applications like long haul freight.
Not really. The reality is that our gov't has no interest in investing the infrastructure to update our grid to support millions of BEV vehicles charging at the same time. Moreover, our current resource allocation for lithium batteries is already proving to not scale terribly well with current demands, why do we think it will get better once everyone starts buying BEVs left and right?

We can't ignore hydrogen as an option. Outside of its inefficiency compared to batteries it has many more advantages when energy density starts to play a role.
 

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Not really. The reality is that our gov't has no interest in investing the infrastructure to update our grid to support millions of BEV vehicles charging at the same time.
I wouldn't even go that far. Even in places that want to upgrade the grid to support an all BEV fleet, like CA, they can't. Not in any sensible time frame - thanks to NIMBYs who on the one hand demand BEVs but then sue to stop the grid expansions and construction of new plants. Looking at a decade-plus for any reasonable generation to be built in CA.


re: FCEVs - South Korea and Japan have decided to build out for FCEV instead of BEV now and are establishing networks of hydrogen fueling stations.
 
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prizrak

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We can't ignore hydrogen as an option. Outside of its inefficiency compared to batteries it has many more advantages when energy density starts to play a role.
Energy density means you don't have to carry as much fuel, but when you have to produce 200% of your actual energy use it doesn't play much of a role.
 

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FCEV or BEV, it's alright to have more than one solution for a particular problem. One thing that would help is to switch away from Lithium batteries for home/stationary use and move to Lead Crystal technology. They're better for deep cycles, can take more cycles, are more easily recycled, and cheaper - but they are the size of a typical lead-acid battery and heavier than lithium. We should save lithium resources for applications where size and weight are major factors and allow heavier, bulkier technology to handle stationary applications.
 

Spectre

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Lead crystal is surprisingly expensive - worse, charging an LC battery can take significantly more complex charging systems to avoid problems. They also have the problem that they tend to be extremely fragile. Even slight mishandling in shipment or installation means you have a damaged or dead battery. LC has been around since 1979 and there's reasons why it didn't take off.
 
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