fridi: (Default)
[personal profile] fridi posting in [community profile] talkpolitics
The world has gone crazy about electric cars these days, it seems. At least the wealthier part of the world. They promise to provide a more technologically advanced future, and they're widely perceived to be much more eco-friendly than any other means of transportation.

Of course, electric cars do have some issues of their own, too. These are several. The biggest one is the long time it takes to re-charge the batteries, given the current level of technologies. Then, the relatively short distance a car could run with one charging. This would eventually be solved by improving the capacity of the batteries. But, because producing the batteries takes energy, it's important to do it in an energy-efficient way, and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels in the process. Because it's not like producing batteries for electric cars does not leave a significant carbon imprint.

http://www.ivl.se/english/startpage/top-menu/pressroom/press-releases/press-releases---arkiv/2017-06-21-new-report-highlights-climate-footprint-of-electric-car-battery-production.html

This is where the above study comes, which attempts to give a broader and more detailed picture of the whole process. It was done by IVL, a Swedish institute of ecology research, by the behest of the Swedish transportation administration.

The conclusions could be a bit shocking for the uninitiated. The production of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars takes an average of 150-200 kg of CO2 per kWh of battery capacity. For example, Nissan Leaf uses one of the weakest batteries on the market (30 kWh), but most models rely on batteries of a 60-100 kWh capacity. This means that for the production of a Leaf battery, more than 5 tons of CO2 are emitted. Producing a package of 100 kWh batteries emits 15-20 tons of CO2 even before the car has been started for the first time. This calculation is based on a 50-70% share of fossil fuels in the electricity production mix that's been used in the production process.

We could use another, simpler calculation to complement this one, but now with a few conditions. Let's take a 2 litre gasoline engine that emits 150 g/km. If we assume that the average annual mileage is 15,000 km, this means 2,250 kg of CO2 would be emitted. And in order to reach the minimum of 15 tons that are emitted in the production of a single 100 kWh battery, the same car would need to have run 7 years (!) on the roads. The situation looks even more shocking than the one with air transport - but no one is arguing against air transport, are they? (Well, almost no one).

Of course, the technology is developing very fast, and the above numbers only refer to the current moment. Besides, if we are to get a more precise picture, we'd need access to sensitive information from the producers. So the data tends to vary a bit, moreover there are all sorts of battery designs. The thing is, producing these cars is not exactly eco-friendly, and certainly not as energy-efficient as most people would like to believe. And I'm not just talking about fossil fuels and carbon imprint. Making electric car batteries takes lithium, cobalt and nickel. Since extracting these metals is a complex chemical process that consumes huge amounts of energy, we'd need to vastly improve these technologies, before we could even begin to speak of this technology being "green" or anything like that.

(no subject)

Date: 5/7/17 17:59 (UTC)
johnny9fingers: (Default)
From: [personal profile] johnny9fingers
I suppose it's a start when Volvo announces its new models will be hybrid or electric only. Yes batteries are a bit awful ATM, and making them is pretty horrible too in terms of energy and waste, but hopefully this will improve hugely, in the way phone batteries have. Until then it's all development nastiness, which we shall have to get over eventually.

Maybe consider it to be energy development investment costs. Use makes master, after all.

(no subject)

Date: 5/7/17 20:40 (UTC)
mahnmut: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mahnmut
It must be 10 years since I read a report that calculated that it took about 10 years of driving a hybrid (of the then current models) to save enough gas to make up for the ecological effect/carbon footprint of the production of the battery compared to the production and same use of a standard SUV (again, then current models), and that the battery wasn't expected to last anywhere near that long.

It's a 2-pronged shame: 1. That few people heard of that, meaning that this is still "news", and B) That it hasn't been fixed/solved yet.

For one thing concerning range, I've never known why electric/hybrid cars didn't come out with solar panels embedded in the roof, hood, and trunk hatch as a standard thing. That would certainly extend ranges.

(no subject)

Date: 5/7/17 20:51 (UTC)
mahnmut: (Wall-E loves yee!)
From: [personal profile] mahnmut
O hai thar!

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 08:40 (UTC)
dreamville_bg: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamville_bg
...and inflate prices.

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 00:24 (UTC)
garote: (Default)
From: [personal profile] garote
The electric car is a sideshow. The true path to the future is enabling people to live a lavish first-world lifestyle without actually owning a car.

I think a few steps to that are:

1. Self-driving car fleets owned by large collectives in suburban areas.
2. Ranks of electric-assist rentable bicycles in urban areas.
3. An increasing quantity of bicycle paths, closing down streets to car traffic one at a time.
4. Courier drones for movement of small materials in urban areas.

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 05:27 (UTC)
asthfghl: (Къде съм аз къде сте вий!)
From: [personal profile] asthfghl
Sounds like a plan!
Edited Date: 6/7/17 05:28 (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 00:50 (UTC)
halialkers: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halialkers
Is there any realistic means to have convenient energy without some kind of major price tag attached? :( I mean at least this is a *start* and the first step is always going to be rough compared to what comes after it and making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Also good to see you, Frida. Hope you've been well since we had our falling out. :)

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 07:27 (UTC)
johnny9fingers: (Default)
From: [personal profile] johnny9fingers
Pretty much.

The perfect being the enemy of the good is the aptest expression here.

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 06:19 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mikeyxw
This is something that a person should know about when buying an electric car, but this study takes a few liberties.

First, they're comparing the biggest electric car battery with a fairly efficient gas car. If you look at the list of current electric cars that Wiki has put together, you'll see that most are in the 20 - 35 KWh range. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric-vehicle_battery

This would of course mean that the average electric car, compared with the average gas car, would take one third of the time listed to become carbon neutral.

Second, there is an assumption that the fuel just appears in the tank of the gas-powered car. Usually there is an additional 20% or so added to the carbon footprint for extracting, refining, and transporting the fuel from the ground to the car. This study wanted to look at the whole process but failed to take this into account.

The real numbers will of course vary, even more significantly when you figure out where the electricity to power the car will come from. It's certainly something to take into account.

(no subject)

Date: 7/7/17 07:21 (UTC)
garote: (Default)
From: [personal profile] garote
The best advantage in an electric car is the regenerative braking. The worst disadvantage is the weight of batteries. I have some hope that battery technology will see a few game-changing innovations over the next decades, but unless that happens, these cars will hit a pretty solid size/range ceiling...

(no subject)

Date: 7/7/17 08:03 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mikeyxw
Well, as a species, we do game-changing innovations pretty well, so I'd bet that something will come up.

Right now, it might be regenerative braking, in the future, it could be that we've got a bunch of batteries to store up power from the cheapest and least impactful source to be used later for whatever and wherever we want to use power. Thinking of car batteries as things to power your car will probably seem as quaint as seeing your cell phone as something to make phone calls from. Yes, it does that, but that's not what makes us buy the newest model.

(no subject)

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(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 08:00 (UTC)
kiaa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kiaa
I don't think anybody has ever argued that electric cars are more eco-friendly than riding a bike or simply walking.

Tesla superchargers will soon be all over America and they have plans to expand their volume throughout Europe as well. (Around 7200 worldwide by the end of this year.) A charge at one of these stations will take 15 minutes. 15 minutes is not a long time. Whilst I appreciate it is probably 200% longer than you would spend refilling the toxic gas machines, you cannot say it is a long time.

Whilst I cannot argue that one charge will only get you to a relatively short distance, the Model 3 will take you from anywhere between 450 and 150 miles on a single charge (depending on your average speed). And I doubt many people will have an average speed over 70 mph. Which I don't see as a huge issue.

Reducing the number of fossil fuels burnt is exactly what electric cars are doing. Even if you charge your car via electricity produced by the national grid, it is 40% more efficient than burning petrol in your car.

But this won't even be up for debate soon, as Tesla plans to have every supercharging station to be run off 100% solar power. In addition, Tesla are building the Gigafactory which will produce more than the entire world's output of lithium-ion batteries and will do so on 100% solar power. (Simultaneously building over 500,000 Model 3's in a year still with 0 burning of fossil fuels).

You make a point about the extraction, but again you miss the bigger picture. It's not about them being 100% 'green', it is simply about reducing the carbon footprint on the world, and bashing electric cars is not helping. You cannot argue that they are more efficient, more eco-friendly and more 'green' than any petrol based car, so why try and show them in a bad light when they are helping the world become a better place for future generations.

It is up to everyone's attitude, financial capabilities, and personal example, I guess.

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 08:40 (UTC)
dreamville_bg: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamville_bg
Advertisers have to big it up because people don't take notice otherwise. And even then people will try and say they're full of hot air.

(no subject)

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(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 08:39 (UTC)
dreamville_bg: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dreamville_bg
I believe Toyota either have implemented this, or are at least planning to. But the problem is, it is not efficient. One solar panel of that size will not add much range onto the car as it is, but with the added weight it reduces the range.

As for the rest of the OP:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/hybrid-electric/news/a27039/tesla-battery-emissions-study-fake-news/

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 20:18 (UTC)
airiefairie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] airiefairie
I also cannot understand the e-car bashing or the reluctance of the big traditional car manufacturers to invest heavily.

Electric cars might not yet be comfortable for longer journeys, but for going to work every day, they would be perfect. You have plenty of time charging while you are at work, and then again overnight.

If you are not a sales guy 50K km every year, you rarely do long distances. I know from myself and from basically all my friends. My sister for example, and some other people I know do not own cars, they rent a car for the few times per year they have to do longer distances by car - and this is still cheaper than owning a car. Imo, for most "normal" people it is just a matter of status or pride or whatever not to own an electric car, but not practical reasons.

Especially for the cities, electric cars are perfect. Combustion engine cars consume a lot driving in the city, while they are not so bad at long distances.

What I cannot understand either is why not all public transport is switched to electric drive. The buses go the same routes all the time, go to the same depot every night, so you do not need many "fuel" stations.

Long time ago when I was a kid, there were still trolleybuses in some of the bigger cities. I enjoyed riding in one of these - silent and without big black clouds of diesel exhausts. At least much has improved when it comes to the big black clouds. Well, that is at least in some places. Every time I am in England though, I feel set back in time. =)

(no subject)

Date: 7/7/17 07:15 (UTC)
garote: (Default)
From: [personal profile] garote
Buses aren't electric because the energy-to-weight ratio of batteries still sucks big time. This is why you may have noticed buses and shuttles converting to natural gas instead.

I completely agree that the wave of the future is rented on-demand cars. I fully expect that a few years from now we'll start seeing pilot programs in the Bay Area for cars that self-drive from the drop-off point of one rental to the pick-up point of the next, and charge if necessary between shifts. As soon as the rental thing catches on, and we build some very complicated machine-learning-based pattern analysis software to organize all the pick-ups and drop-offs, we'll have armies of commuters riding four to a vehicle (or more) across the Bay Bridge, and traffic on that bridge will be chopped in half at a stroke, along with the concomitant pollution.

Then fleet operators will deploy eight- or ten-passenger vehicles, for use where the algorithms demand, and posh single-seat vehicles for the rich and/or introverted and/or timid.

It'll be an interesting future. :)

(no subject)

Date: 6/7/17 22:36 (UTC)
garote: (Default)
From: [personal profile] garote
"Even if you charge your car via electricity produced by the national grid, it is 40% more efficient than burning petrol in your car."

I am not sure what you mean by "efficiency" here. Just about every national grid in the world is in turn powered by burning fossil fuels, then sending the result out across huge power lines...

(no subject)

Date: 7/7/17 05:58 (UTC)
kiaa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kiaa
I'm just gonna leave this here...

Edited Date: 7/7/17 06:00 (UTC)

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Date: 6/7/17 22:34 (UTC)
garote: (Default)
From: [personal profile] garote
2040? Oh, how brave and forward thinking. Only a quarter-century and an entire generation from now... ;)

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Date: 9/7/17 02:30 (UTC)
dewline: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dewline
Infrastructure build-out that they need to keep going explains a fair-sized chunk of the delay there. And the switchover of users is already underway as it is, so...

(no subject)

Date: 7/7/17 07:29 (UTC)
garote: (Default)
From: [personal profile] garote
I'd be interested to see a similar analysis of the state of energy consumption efficiency these days. I mean, look at this laptop I'm typing on. It takes an hour on a 29w charger to reach capacity, then it runs for five more hours on that charge. Compare that to the behemoth machine I used in college - called Tin Loaf - it used most of the capacity of a 500-watt power supply, and ate a further 500 watts driving the CRT display, for the entire time it was in use. Plus it was about a hundred times slower.

That is a leap in power efficiency that is just ... flabbergasting.

Now we're switching to LED light bulbs that use 10w instead of 75w, give out the same light, and last ten times longer. That's also amazing. Have there been similar innovations in refrigeration, I wonder? In communications? Transportation? Enquiring minds want to know!

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