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seamus26 wrote:
The answer is yes. Especially over the long haul.
Unless you live in Wyoming…
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theschuman wrote:
Unless you live in Wyoming…
Then you'd be better off with a RAV4 Hybrid at 267 g/mi.
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seamus26 wrote:
The answer is yes. Especially over the long haul.
I changed my mind about the emissions of an F-150 Lightening (in WV) vs. the Chevy Trailblazer when presented with the info from feuleconomy.gov (and not a YouTuber named GasTroll); yes, indeed the Lightening has much lower emissions than the Trailblazer.

But, based on the data from Wyoming, can some of the "EVs are always better" crowd at least concede that isn't always the case? Does China burn coal cleaner than they do in Wyoming?
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Guess I'm not doing so bad.
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theschuman wrote:
But, based on the data from Wyoming, can some of the "EVs are always better" crowd at least concede that isn't always the case? Does China burn coal cleaner than they do in Wyoming?
I can speak to this point with some expertise as I spent probably close to ten years in the last part of my career constructing Air Quality Systems (AQS) for coal fired power plants in the midwest.

The modernized American coal fired power plants can be very clean burning as they utilize a combination of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) a baghouse (which is a giant vacuum cleaner complete with giant vacuum cleaner bags by the hundreds) and a scrubber. There is a bypass on the SCR which is why it gets the "Selective" in it's name but just like a catalytic converter on a car it changes the polluting molecules to less noxious pollutants in the exhaust.

The problem with this system is that it's expensive and complicated. It also requires a lot of very expensive maintenance, usually by union boilermakers which can make 6 figures if they work year round. Many use it as a part time job and I have personally been on jobs where I worked 1,000 hours in 4 months so if you consider that a normal full time job 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year is 2,000 hours you can see where you could only spend 8 months or 6 months of the year working.

One of the reasons that the gas fired power plants have been so popular over the last ten years or so is that they require much less maintenance and the construction of a new gas fired Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) is about equivalent in cost to the retrofitting of an existing coal burner. The savings come in operating and maintenance costs for the gas burners.

I do not have any direct knowledge of the Chinese power plants air quality systems but I think they certainly have the capability to build the cleaner coal power plants as well as centralized government investment but I am pretty sure they have their share of straight run coal burners as well. I think evidence of this was the horrible pollution we all saw during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

https://chinadialogue.net/en/pollution/chinas-air-pollution-progress-since-2008/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20paper%20from,air%20cleaning%E2%80%9D%20in%20Olympic%20history.

So they are getting better as well with the pollution they generate but there is still a carbon footprint for all of that burning and the same goes for gas vs coal. They can both be set up to burn pretty clean but they are still burning.

I can foresee a not too distant future where we as a planet get much better at storage and transmission which will save a heck of a lot of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. Right now about 2/3rds of all the energy produced is wasted energy. If we could get that number down to 1/3 we would have double the usable energy for the same amount of carbon footprint we have with today's technology in power generation and that will undoubtedly improve as renewables are better utilized with advances in storage.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/visualizing-americas-energy-use-in-one-giant-chart/
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skids wrote:
I can foresee a not too distant future where we as a planet get much better at storage and transmission which will save a heck of a lot of carbon from being released into the atmosphere. Right now about 2/3rds of all the energy produced is wasted energy. If we could get that number down to 1/3 we would have double the usable energy for the same amount of carbon footprint we have with today's technology in power generation and that will undoubtedly improve as renewables are better utilized with advances in storage.

Thank you for some interesting insights.

As for energy losses in transmission, the solution, as for many things, is at the local level. Drastically reducing energy consumption and generating as much of it as locally as possible (for example on your own roof or in your own backyard) will be a big component of reducing our impact on the environment.

In the long run there is no scenario in which electric powered vehicles would be dirtier than their gas powered equivalents.

In the end will also have to re-consider our total reliance on individual transportation, as its costs are much larger than just pollution alone. Land use for example is another major factor leading to environmental impacts. An electric car will never be as clean as walking or using a bicycle.
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giallo wrote:
An electric car will never be as clean as walking or using a bicycle.
+1 (tentatively)
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That's elementary but try taking the wife and kids on holiday on the back of your pushbike!
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In many EU countries EV's are aggressively being pushed with massive subsidies.

Here in Belgium we have a tradition of company cars. Income tax rates are very high here and progressive with rising income. A company car is a bit a compensation for these high tax rates. Part of the brute income comes as a car at an interesting tax rate.

Now the government has set new tax rules on company cars making EV's extremely favourable while ICE's almost loose the tax benefit entirely.

The idea is to switch the company cars to EV, then after maybe 3-5 years these first lease contracts will end and EV's will be flowing massively into the second hand market.

I have a company car myself, it is now a BMW X1 Sdrive 18d (2 liter 4 cylinder 150hp diesel) of which I am very satisfied, it is low on fuel and very nice to drive.

But by the end of next year the lease contract ends and I will be forced to switch to an EV.

I have my doubts on the sense of this policy.

My first question is: what is the potential in greenhouse gas emission reduction when all cars would be EV.

Based on data from the EU-stats, Eurostats, I learn that 12% of CO2 emission in the EU (that is data when UK still was included) is from cars and light trucks, all vehicles below 3,5 tonnes. I expect cars will be the major part and I estimate their share to be some 10%. That is not that much and it is the potential if EV's would not produce any CO2 emission.

But of course that is not the case.

The next question is: where is the electric energy going to come from if a bunch of new electricity consumers connects to the grid?

It is not going to be nuclear, nor solar, nor wind. Nuclear runs at close to 100% already and solar and wind together do what they can but only have a share of some 15 - 17% in electricity production.
So extra demand will come from fossil fueled power plants since they are the only ones that have spare capacity.

One can say, yeah, but I feed my battery with my own solar panels, but as long as you are connected to the grid you just consume the same electricity as anybody else and considering the low share of solar it simply means somewhere a fossil fueled plant has to add extra power to the grid.

But even then the fossil fueled plants combined with electric engines will do better than ICE's, but not that much. Maybe a third, maybe 50% better? What it boils down to is that the benefit on greenhouse gasses will be modest. Maybe 3%, maybe 5%, something like that. And that is if all cars would be EV and that is not for the near future, whatever the subsidies.

In my view electrifying cars is not a priority now. It is expensive and brings little.
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Very good post Peter but I would like to point out that the electric generating capacity could be much more efficient. One of the issues with running a fossil fuel power plant is demand, in California for example they have what are called "peakers" which are usually natural gas fired single units hooked to a turbine.

Imagine a huge jet engine bolted down to the ground and fed with natural gas instead of jet fuel. They can turn these up at times of high demand and throttle down as soon as the demand weakens which is good, they are not wasting power that way.

Remember the chart I showed above, in the US two thirds of generated electricity is just wasted

These plants are not very efficient though in terms energy derived from the amount of fuel, it is much more efficient to have a heat recovery steam generator, that is a peaker plus on the exhaust side of the jet engine, the turbine the hot gasses run through a gauntlet of tubes that have water in them. These tubes are a very complicated system and close attention has to be paid in order for them not to overheat and cause damage or to be underheated and not be efficient.

This secondary part of the power plant is connected to an entirely separate turbine and in fact the typical setup is for there to be two gas fired turbines that produce electricity connected to one steam powered turbine so that you can have two units feeding the steam supply.

Now these Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG's) make much better use of the natural gas, they squeeze much more electricity out of the gas than the peakers do but they are not able to be accelerated or decelerated nearly as quickly leading to the possibility of much more wasted energy.

The coal fired plants that are very efficient have the same drawbacks although they are somewhat more flexible but all of the coal fired plants make a giant fireball inside of a huge structure of water tubes that make steam that powers a turbine for electricity.

So the idea is that with electric vehicles being charged they can run the plants in a much more efficient way than they could without the electric vehicles being charged...much of what we now waste would be utilized greatly reducing the amount of wasted energy from the chart.

Now obviously this is just a theory but my experience as a layman with how they build and operate the plants it makes sense to me once they get the bugs out of it that they could remove quite a bit of the inefficiencies in the system and greatly reduce wasted energy. It will require improvements to the grid and a bunch of other things to get right but the potential is there once it is sorted to make a big improvement. For example if they could just power all the smaller vehicles with power that would have been wasted anyway that would increase your 10% savings estimate to 20% and possibly more if they get the efficiency down.

I definitely think it is worthy of an attempt and the way to really fast track it is to make it much more affordable for the common consumer. Unfortunately I think the plan is to make the old way super expensive here in the US and the new way only slightly less expensive for those that can afford the investment in electric vehicles and home installed solar and batteries.
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Just a note on the "those who can afford to get solar installed at home" - you should never pay more to get solar installed than you do monthly to your regular energy supplier, if you get an outside company to install and manage the system. You don't have to buy a system outright - a good option if you have the ready cash of course - you let the outside company make a profit while you ensure your energy supply costs are kept pretty much constant.

In our case, we've just opted to have a company install solar. 7.5kW of panels installed (over a year that'll produce twice our present consumption), and we'll pay just over $100 a month (our mean present 'leccy bill), rising by 2.9% per annum for 25 years. OK, in 25 years we'll pay nearly $200 a month. I can pretty much guarantee we'd be paying $200 a month in 4 to 5 years' time to our current supplier, and $2000 a month in 25 years what with inflation and all...

So we'll have the leeway to use the heat pump much more rather than use the gas furnace and window A/C units, and still have the spare capacity to charge an electric vehicle or two. All for no extra monthly cost.

Win-win. I'm surprised more people don't leap on this option.
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