Op-Ed: The Elephant in the EV Room, Part III: In the Battle to Mitigate Global Warming, What’s EVs’ Role?

3 years ago by Assaf Oron 51

What Is The EV's Role In Global Warming Mitigation?

What Is The EV’s Role In Global Warming Mitigation?

After a 2-month hiatus, I finally complete this 3-part series. Meanwhile, thanks to George Bower for holding the global-warming fort here (and thanks the editors for continuing to provide a podium!). My Part I reminded that the current EV revolution owes much of its existence to global warming awareness. Part II waded a bit through global warming science. Here, I will examine EVs’ actual role in global-warming mitigation.

This post itself is divided into 3 parts: narrow, broader and global.

The Narrow: EV Footprint Life-Cycle-Analysis


Since EVs offer to directly displace ICE vehicles, it seems all we need is to calculate their per-vehicle “Carbon Footprint”: EVs’ average greenhouse-gas emissions – from production, via daily usage and maintenance, to decommission – compared with the ICE footprint. Indeed, per-vehicle life-cycle-analysis (LCA) has devoured the most attention in environmental discussions of EVs.

I think this focus is misplaced, as will be explained later. I’ve already paid my dues to LCA. Here’s a two-sentence summary: EVs’ lifetime footprint varies widely depending on the EV, local electricity mix and driving patterns. On average, EVs are now equivalent to, or somewhat better than, comparable ICE hybrids – but as grids become cleaner, and EV production more streamlined, the advantage is expected to grow.

Still, on a per-vehicle basis one could argue that for the coming 20 years or so, making the ICE fleet more energy-efficient offers a better CO2-reduction bang for the buck than promoting EVs. In the narrow sense, they are right. But they are missing the forest for the trees.

Before we come to the forest, I need to get a little preachy with you. Please bear with me.

The Broader: Cultural Impact, Grid Impact


EVs are criticized by many environmentalists as a trick to perpetuate the American cultural notion that every person of driving age should have a car, and everyone should drive everywhere – while providing this notion a “clean” stamp of approval.

We must admit: large-scale Single-Occupancy-Vehicle (SOV) commuting is unsustainable from pretty much every angle. Large urban areas cannot withstand everyone driving into downtown every workday morning, each in their own big private box. Moreover, if everyone SOV-commuted like Americans, we’d already been doomed just from a CO2 perspective. SOV-commute must become the exception rather than the rule.

"Unsustainable on any level, regardless of vehicle type."

“Unsustainable on any level, regardless of vehicle type.”

Even with a pure-EV fleet, massive SOV commute translates to a lot of redundant electricity consumption. It is estimated that an average US household that does all of its driving on EVs, adds some 20-30% to its overall electricity consumption. As home energy efficiency improves, if driving habits don’t improve as well our EVs will take a larger and larger chunk of electric demand, which both doesn’t make much sense, and is physically hard to sustain. True, recent progress on greening the electricity grids has been very encouraging. But getting from near-zero renewables to ~50%, is much easier than closing in on 100% renewables; that will be a truly Herculean challenge. It might become impossible, if everyone continues to SOV-commute.

Yet, we must keep in mind that in principle, EV technology itself is agnostic to “private car vs. transit”. We seek to replace ICE in all vehicles not just private ones. This year, China’s BYD and other pioneering e-transit companies are slated to put thousands of e-transit vehicles on busy city routes. Electrifying the public transit fleet has a huge impact – on CO2 emissions, on urban air quality and on firsthand public exposure to EVs.

That said, had we put all our EV eggs in the bus basket, we’d be stuck right now in most of the Western world with transit agencies crippled by repeated rounds of cuts, and certainly not able to buy fleets of shiny new eBuses. Even here in Seattle – one of the most “Greenie-Leftie” cities on the continent, whose economy is doing pretty well – there are now transit cuts, not expansions, despite soaring ridership demand. I can only imagine what happens elsewhere. At the same time, Seattle boasts a booming private EV market. It’s good that both progress options for EVs are open simultaneously.

Back to the grid: while there’s reason to worry about EVs becoming the biggest electricity hogs, EVs also stand to play a positive role in the grid. As described in numerous insideevs stories, vehicle-to-grid leverages EV batteries for short-term electricity storage, from the midday solar production peak to the evening consumption peak. Balancing electricity load can help a renewable-dominated grid work with substantially less installed capacity, and retire fossil-fuel plants earlier.

The Global: Keep It In the Ground


We finally arrive at what IMHO is EVs’ most important role in the quest to stop global warming. The end game of global warming is this question:

How much of global fossil-fuel reserves are we allowed to burn before passing the point of no return in terms of civilizational destruction and even our extinction?

The very fact this question is being asked nowadays, indicates how far we’ve come, in terms of recognizing the severity of the problem – and also in terms our willingness and ability to confront it. As recently as 7-10 years ago, it was widely considered impossible to maintain anything like the current Western standard of living, without near-exclusive reliance on fossil fuels. Except for the visionary few, for most of us the civilizational disruption due to abandonment of fossil fuels was perceived as so massive, that a little voice in our heads kept saying “Well, it’s going to be a nightmare either way. Might as well do the limited, gradual changes we can, and wait for what comes.”

Since then, wind and distributed-solar have roared into the mainstream. At the same time, the costs (economical, political, etc.) of fossil-fuel extraction have continued to soar, and society has become less and less willing to pay them. As a result, we are witnessing the fall of the first of the 3 fossil-fuel giants: coal is dying before our eyes. Yes, it still supplies about 1/3 of US electricity, and a larger share in many other countries. But the trend is crystal-clear: it’s been a while since anyone had built a new coal plant in the US, and dozens are being closed every year, at a younger age than previously. They are replaced by renewables and natural gas.

Big Coal’s big hope, China, is now also making a sharp turn towards renewables. Over the past couple of years China has led the world in solar installations, besides producing most of the world’s rooftop solar. The most populated regions in China have put in measures to reduce coal consumption, and nationwide consumption – which has approached half of global coal demand – is already flattening out. Rather soon, investing in coal mines to satisfy Asian demand will become a dead-end prospect, just like it already is in the West. This means that we should be able to leave the vast majority of global coal reserves in the ground. In particular, most of US coal reserves – estimated to be the largest in the world – are now likely to be remain untouched, Big Coal’s flailing attempts to ship them to China notwithstanding.

World coal reserves by country. Source: eniscuola.net.

World coal reserves by country. Source: eniscuola.net.

Which brings me back to that ominous question. How much of fossil fuel reserves can we afford to burn?

NASA’s James Hansen and colleagues did the math, of what would happen if we allow ourselves to burn through all known fossil-fuel reserves. It’s not pretty: CO2 will shoot up to thousands of ppm, and the Earth will become uninhabitable to most current species, humans included. Of course, it would take much less than burning all reserves, in order to finish off advanced civilization.

In short: we really must do all we can, to keep most of it in the ground. In other words, envision a functioning civilization with only a tiny fraction of our current fossil-fuel extraction rate.

"Fig. 7a from Hansen et al. 2013 (the article linked above). It shows the predicted mean temperature (x-axis) as a function of altitude (y-axis, using pressure as a proxy) and doubling or halving of CO2. Burning all fossil fuels is estimated to bring about at least an 8x increase, leading to mean surface temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius, compared with about 14 degrees right now."

“Fig. 7a from Hansen et al. 2013 (the article linked above). It shows the predicted mean temperature (x-axis) as a function of altitude (y-axis, using pressure as a proxy) and doubling or halving of CO2. Burning all fossil fuels is estimated to bring about at least an 8x increase, leading to mean surface temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius, compared with about 14 degrees right now.”

One down, two to go: Coal going down, Oil next. Ground transportation accounts for roughly half of global oil consumption. True, replacing all ICE ground transport with non-ICE vehicles – probably mostly EVs – can take many many decades. But just like with Big Coal, market victory over Big Oil can come much, much earlier, and this will grind “unconventional” oil exploration (think Tar Sands) to a halt.

If this sounds far-fetched, look up the backstory to Exxon-Mobil’s recent open acknowledgement of anthropogenic global warming. What caused this cynical mega-corporation to admit what it has worked so hard to deny? Environmentalists who bought Exxon-Mobil shares, and posted a formal investor inquiry along these lines:

Given the severity of global warming, and the critical need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, isn’t it unrealistic to value the company’s remaining reserves at full market price? What if they get stranded rather than extracted? And what steps are you taking to adapt the company to these changes?

Exxon-Mobil leadership was caught between a rock and a hard place. To continue its warming-denial facade would signal to shareholders an unacceptable degree of incompetence. OTOH, to fully accept the most logical path forward on global warming – i.e., Keep It In The Ground – means making drastic changes to Exxon-Mobil’s current business model.

So they opted for triangulation. They accepted the science, then conjured a word-salad that meant at bottom line, they see oil economics continuing business-as-usual, with global demand still modestly increasing over the coming 20-30 years or so – long after the current leadership will have all conveniently retired… Why not a flat line or a slight decrease? After all, the current rate of increase in oil consumption is already very modest? Why don’t they allow for the possibility of a decrease? I think it’s because even such relatively minor future changes are devastating to Big Oil’s business outlook.

Now, can you envision, in the not-so-distant future, an ordinary pragmatic person pretty much anywhere in the world saying “Hell, I’ve had it with gas. I’m getting an EV” – and being able to easily find an EV that suits her needs and budget? I sure can.

Can you imagine what this reality will do to the entire oil economy? To the ability of Big Oil to drill/strip/frack any piece of the Earth it sets its eyes upon? To its power to corrupt governments and destroy countries around the world? To the value of its reserves?

Here’s how Little Yours Truly has chosen to participate in this battle. Our current family policy is to lease a new BEV every 2 years, while returning the previous one (we just did our first exchange this month). In terms of per-vehicle CO2 accounting (i.e., the “Narrow View” described above), this policy increases our household footprint. We “cannot escape” the consequences of having someone produce a new BEV for us every two years – a rate of consumption we’ve never maintained before.

I am not escaping the consequences. I am embracing them. I am deliberately sacrificing a CO2 pawn, if you will – in order to help speed up the auto market’s transition away from ICE, and eventually deal Big Oil a checkmate.

Here’s a historical analogy. In the 1970s PCs were rare, unwieldy creatures meant for hobbyists only. But they had word processors, so if you also bought a printer – and those too were pretty expensive and terrible in the 70s – you could use the pair to displace that reliable default: the typewriter. There were advantages and disadvantages to the switch. It was not for everyone, not by a long shot.

"In the late 1970s, you could replace your typewriter with these babies... if you were brave and could spare a monthly salary's worth of $$ (source: oldcomputers.arcula.co.uk)."

“In the late 1970s, you could replace your typewriter with these babies… if you were brave and could spare a monthly salary’s worth of $$ (source: oldcomputers.arcula.co.uk).”

Fast-forward a decade, and market transition had taken place. The PC+printer combo now *was* for everyone, and typewriters were rapidly relegated to small niches.

EVs are right now somewhere around the late 1970s. The product already has appeal even for the pragmatic mainstream household – but perhaps not enough yet. Besides, production capacity is still barely a few percent of the market, and model variety is rather narrow. Finally, unlike the typewriter example, EVs are facing a coalition of monstrous lobbies, spearheaded by Big Oil, who will stop at nothing in the attempt to quash them before they achieve market transition. But EV *is* a better product than ICE on nearly every count. To reach market transition, makers only need to improve those remaining key aspects that are still lacking, and consumers need to provide enough demand to fund the production ramp-up. That’s the main game in town right now. Not coincidentally, it is precisely the numbers game played out in insideevs.com’s monthly scorecard.

True, there are other use cases for oil besides ground travel (air travel is probably the toughest nut to crack). But once the ground-transport default becomes non-fossil, “Keep That Oil In The Ground” will be a rather viable possibility. It won’t be as easy and quick as the typewriter-PC transition, but from a global-warming perspective the attempt is well worth it.

Ok, I think I’m starting to repeat myself. Thanks to all those who tuned in to one or more of the posts, or engaged (respectfully! cordially!) in the discussions.

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51 responses to "Op-Ed: The Elephant in the EV Room, Part III: In the Battle to Mitigate Global Warming, What’s EVs’ Role?"

  1. Mikael says:

    And to reach the goal it’s important to remember that we need work on all fronts simultaneously and with all measures.

    Improve efficiency, reduce use, add clean energy etc. etc.
    No solution will do everything but many together can do something.

      1. Thomas J. Thias says:

        Stunned that you,Assaf didn’t mentioned THIS 3,000lb elephant in the room!

        …And this Electric Fueled Vehicle Fuel Is Free As a Utility Wholesale Waste Recycled Product!

        QUOTE BLAST/

        “[…]“A conservative estimate is that we have an amount of electricity unused at night that’s equal to the output of 65 to 70 nuclear power plants between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) stated before the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee.

        “I suspect that’s probably our greatest unused resource in the United States.

        If we were to use that to plug in cars and trucks at night, we could electrify 43 percent of our cars and trucks without building one new power plant.[…]”

        “[…]U.S. power companies generate surplus electricity at night equivalent to the daytime output of 65 to 70 nuclear power plants, Alexander said, and that electricity could be charging batteries in electric cars.[…]”

        Crickets? I think not!

        Links Goes To Torque News And Forbes-

        1)Torque News
        http://www.torquenews.com/397/senator-alexander-unused-electricity-our-greatest-national-resource

        2 Forbes
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2011/05/20/lamar-alexander-uses-gas-prices-to-press-republicans-on-electric-cars/

        Night time spiking? Loving it as Electric Fuel saves me over $200.00 a month in fuel costs vs gasoline by, per unit costs.

        In addition the information provided above, $1 worth of waste Electric Fuel, off peak, that gives me 40 miles or so of average daily suburban, city driving, 1/4 or so the cost of gasoline per unit cost, and taking into consideration it is recycled waste energy!

        Best-

        Thomas J. Thias

        517-749-0532

        ps- My utility is now my Filling Station, 110V L1 EV night time Refueling.

        Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

    1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      Modern nuclear technologies like LFTR and PRISM can do all that, plus provide desalinization heat and lifesaving medical isotopes.

      1. Mikael says:

        It can be a part of the solution in the future. Hopefully the Chinese can have a full scale TMSR in 20-25 years and have it for export 30-35 years from now.

        But for the fossil fuel problems of today and the next decade or two a better solution would be to mass produce known reactors like the AP1000 (or CPR-1000, VVER-1000/1200 or a reactor like those) which would reduce the price, the building time and streamline the education of operators.

        That would be a big help. But it would still just be a part of the solution (and is a part of the solution since there are quite a few countries building nuclear reactors).

  2. Lindsay Patten says:

    I can picture a scenario in which people buy or lease an EV and a PV array and use the grid to transport, if necessary, the electricity they generate with the PV on their home to wherever they have their car parked during the daylight hours. If your car is parked at work during the day you install your EVSE at your workplace instead of home, or have one in both places. It doesn’t seem like it would require any seismic shift to accomplish and doesn’t require huge changes to the grid either as long as you charge at the same time as you generate.

    1. Assaf says:

      Lindsay hi,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      As my post indicates, I prefer the systems view over the per-vehicle, per-household LCA accounting. Moreover, with electricity pooling all sources and sinks is arguably more efficient.

      – Our EVs get their juice from the grid.
      – Those of us who have renewable production (usually PVs), push them into the grid.
      – Once we have vehicle-to-grid, our EVs can interact with the grid as consumers, storage and “producers” (i.e., the drawing from storage).

      It’s better to have everything connected to the grid, and pay/credit for usage/storage/production as they occur – rather than burden the grid with attempts to get everyone’s private electrons through to their private EVs.

      1. Lindsay Patten says:

        I’m a little confused by your reply. I’m suggesting that it would help the grid if the timing of EV consumption were aligned with the time of solar production. That if everyone were to buy a matched set of PV and EV that large numbers of people could eliminate their transport related carbon emissions while minimizing the impact on the grid. It is putting power on the grid at one time and taking it off at another that places the burden on the grid.

        The idea of private electrons is nonsense outside the context of going off-grid and I’m specifically suggesting using the grid so you can generate at home and consume at work so I don’t understand why it is relevant. Although I have nothing against installing PV at the workplace either.

        And what is the rationale for charging at night? Certainly to avoid charging at peak but on top of that to maximize the efficiency of base load power stations. Here in New Brunswick the coal plants provide a portion of the base load power so I’m not that keen on facilitating base load generation. I would rather facilitate solar by charging when solar is available thereby avoiding the concept of a “surplus” of solar generation and allowing for a lower base load that hopefully involves less coal.

        Lastly, if you charge at home and then drive to work and back the charge remaining in your battery is at it’s minimum state for the day and therefore less useful for offsetting peak usage. If you charge at work you arrive home with an extra one way commute’s worth of energy in the battery for EV2G use, you can then charge again after peak if necessary or desired. Alternatively, if you want to use your EV in the evening you have more range available to do so without having to charge during peak hours.

        So, it seems to me that I’m looking at this more from a systems point of view than you are, or am I missing something?

        Thanks for your articles, I’ve found them thought provoking.

        1. Assaf says:

          Sorry, I guess I’ve misread your 1st comment. Hopefully I’m not misreading this one too 😉

          As far as I understand, one of the great advantages of vehicle-to-grid is to use EV batteries as distributed short-term energy storage.

          There is a mismatch between the diurnal solar production peak (10/11 AM to 3/4 PM), and the household electricity consumption peak (5-9 PM).
          Wind’s peak varies more by region, but it is also not necessarily aligned with consumption.

          Now, the idea is to make the grid work smoothly with as little installed capacity as possible (or more precisely, stretch out the amount of households supported by a given installed capacity).

          So you actually want “something” that will hold the peak-produced solar until peak-demand time. Which is what everyone in clean-tech now is looking for.

          Vehicle-to-grid is one of the easiest solutions. The idea is that those EVs that are stationary around midday – whether at home, work or some park-and-ride lot – will be grid-connected and charging up from the produced solar.

          Then again, in the evening they will be connected, and able to spill that excess juice into the system.

          Then overnight, they will slowly replenish from non-solar sources (for renewables, that could be geothermal or whatever?).

          There’s a ton of material out there on the topic. Some articles were posted here on this site as well.

          Hope that answers a question you’ve asked…

          Cheers, Assaf

          1. Assaf says:

            Just re-read your comment, I guess we wrote the same thing using different words 🙂

  3. alain says:

    i bought my ev for the same reson ! it’s great to save money ,but much geater to save the co2 .i have 4 kids ,hope they have a futur.

  4. alain says:

    in quebec the grid is 90%more hydro

    1. Mikael says:

      Yet Canada is one of the countries in the world that uses the most coal per capita. What’s up with that?

      1. Joshua Burstyn says:

        Not in Ontario. Some of us are trying. 🙂

        1. Mikael says:

          Good. 🙂 I just did a quick read on that and it’s one impressive shut down. If only the rest of Canada (and the world) could do that 🙂

          Now you have the oil and gas to get rid of 😉

  5. Bonaire says:

    You can save the CO2 of all the EVs and more with one thing. Four day work week of say 10 or 11 hours. Didn’t Mexico’s Carlos Slim recommend a 3-day work week recently? It also would mean more job possibilities by allowing more people to cover jobs that require six and seven day store opening.

    But what we really need are low priced EVs. Hopefully we see that by 2020. By low I mean $25K or less for substantial miles. 150 or more.

    1. Bonaire says:

      Question for all the EV “advocates” – and this is a good one.

      How many of you thought of saving CO2 before buying an EV? Did you car-pool? Cut your drives? Did you really care or is it a new hobby to cut CO2 and save gas? Are your kids also doing it or do they think you’re nuts?

      My daughter is learning to drive in my EV. However, my son is not even close to wanting an EV.

      1. Assaf says:

        We – a family of 5 – do essentially all our commute by transit and foot. We chose the location of our home, so that there’ll be plentiful bus lines.

        At the risk of being branded as “the mean parents who don’t want to drive their kids”, we taught our older kids to use buses independently from age 10-11. As teenagers they have been teaching their friends how to do it.

        We also try not to over-consume in general, both as a personal habit and out of environmental awareness. Obviously, we still emit way more CO2 per capita than Third World families.

        Global warming was our main motivation for getting an EV in 2012. So it’s no wonder I blog about the topic here 🙂 Others have different motives, but as you can see a ton of EV drivers put up solar arrays. Since in general these arrays feed into the grid rather than into their EVs directly, it is safe to assume that global warming is at least part of the reason.

      2. CherylG says:

        That is indeed the elephant in the room.

        As the author rightfully suggests “large-scale Single-Occupancy-Vehicle (SOV) commuting is unsustainable from pretty much every angle. ”

        Driving a 4600 pound Model S solo in the car pool lane is hardly a sustainable solution, yet HOV access is one of the leading reasons cited for getting an EV in states that offer access.

        1. Spec9 says:

          These are early days for EVs . . . they make up less than 1% of the vehicles being sold. Various perks like HOV lane access are made available now to incentivize people to invest in these more expensive cars. As the EV prices drop and EVs become more popular based on their own inherent properties (really cheap to fuel), the incentives will go away.

          1. +1

            Yes, the Tesla Model S is a big heavy car. Because right now, if you want to be able to travel outside your local metro area, you need big heavy (expensive) batteries. Best to put those in a big heavy expensive car.

            Which pays the way for that smaller, much less expensive battery/car.

            That’s pretty well understood by everyone here except those that willfully do not understand, or are paid to not understand.

        2. Get Real says:

          Actually Cheryl, your shrill anti-
          Tesla propaganda is the well known elephant is this blog’s virtual rooms.

          Why don’t you do all of us a favor and go somewhere else. While your at it maybe you could go by bicycle?

        3. Thomas J. Thias says:

          Let The Sun Shine-

          The humble parking lot. Millions of them world wide.

          Cars, trucks, vans, medium duty trucks and people sheltered from the heat and rain by inexpensive solar Electric Fuel Generating Carports and Canopies.

          Work place, municipal, event properties, shopping malls, etc.

          Stand alone or grid tied, Smoke Stack Free Solar EV Fuel Refineries.

          Fuel Free Fuel Forever-

          Endless, Fuel Free Fuel with ZERO emisions.

          Electricity as EV Fuel is up to 75% more efficent per unit cost vs gasoline and diesel.

          Now realise the SAVING GREEN $$-

          $0 Coal, $0 NG, $0 Nuclear, $0 diesel Sunk Generation Fuel Costs.

          Solar as EV Fuel is sustainability wise, off the charts.

          A new gold standard, as it were, a sea change!

          Link Goes To Google: Solar EV Parking Lot Filling Stations- (Solar Parking)

          https://www.google.com/search?q=solar+parking&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=dTveU_y_KIisyASpm4DACg&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=638

          In summary, using electricity as EV Fuel, especially Fuel Free Fuel from Solar, Wind, Tidal, Wave and Hydro I can drive 40 or so miles for the grid equivelent of a $1 worth of electricity.

          In comparsion to the $4 gallon of gas taking the average car 24 miles, US/EPA, this means that for that gallon of gas, I can drive 160 miles using Electric Fuel.

          Thus, in my opinion, this author wrongfully suggests “large-scale Single-Occupancy-Vehicle (SOV) commuting is unsustainable from pretty much every angle. ”, as major solar and wind generation ramps up as it logically shall.

          Add this to my earlier points made: “[…]“A conservative estimate is that we have an amount of electricity unused at night that’s equal to the output of 65 to 70 nuclear power plants between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) stated before the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee.{…].

          It is game over for the Chicken little set!

          Best-

          Thomas J. Thias

          517-749-0532

          Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

      3. Mikael says:

        It’s interesting to see the “kids” that are not that old in the game. It’s a bit different when you’re from a country where the global warming has been a fact for 40 years, where almost no electricity or heating comes from fossil fuels and where walking and biking always has been the norm and public transport is plentiful and running mostly on renewable energy.
        10 years ago I replaced most of the low energy bulbs with LED. Oh… and 2 years ago I replaced the lawn-mover with an electric lawn-mover robot, best investment ever. 🙂

        I’ve been waiting for the EV’s and next gen. biofuels so that the road transport can get green too.
        And also those flights… I’m addicted to travelling so I would never consider giving that up. So I’m hoping for example those desert grown halophytes or the lignin based biofuels from biomass developed locally will pan out.

      4. Lindsay Patten says:

        I definitely fall in the “bought the EV to reduce CO2” camp, likewise for upcoming PV purchase. With the amount I drive it was either move or get an EV or attempt to ignore my conscience. With no incentives here neither one is going to generate an economic return.

      5. EVs for Real says:

        Interestingly, this summer Tesla (a car manufacturer mind you) starting paying employees $5 for each day they cycled into work instead of driving. And I believe they pay for public transportation expenses if you do that instead of drive.

        1. Assaf says:

          My employer – Seattle Children’s Hospital – both pays for a full regional transit pass for every employee, and $4/day for any use of a commute mode other than SOV.

          As a result, the SOV rate among Children’s workforce is some 20%-30% lower than the Seattle average.

          Besides being good for the planet, it is also cost effective (think about having to maintain parking for all those SOV cars).

        2. Really nice. I wish my employer would do that … they’d owe me a pile a cash (nearly 700 days on bicycle commuting and counting!)

      6. Francisco says:

        Walking, public transpo, biking to work, replacing ICE cars with more efficient ones, replacing applciances with more efficient ones, planning the PV project, replacing massive quantities of light bulbs with CFL and LED, home insulation projects, recycling to the max extent practical, growing and storing our own food (making our own beer…) – all years before the 1st EV in 2011 (and without really impacting lifestyle). But I’m also proud to be one of the people in that really skinny section at the 2011 beginning of the “total number of EV’s on the road” graph we saw a few weeks ago.

    2. Assaf says:

      Yup, once we have a mass offering of ~$25k BEVs with ~150 mile range and quick-charging, ICE vehicles will have reached their “Typewriter Moment” 🙂

      1. Mikael says:

        It will take more than that for a typewriter moment. I’d imagine more like a $20k 300 mile (real world) BEV with a fast charging time of less than 15 minutes to 80+% to wipe out the ICE in cars.

        But… I do think we will soon see some typewriter moments when it comes to PHEVS, where a formel ICE only model will not be sold without the plug.
        And we have almost seen a moment like that with the Outlander PHEV.

        1. Edwardian says:

          Mikael, I don’t think either a 300 mile range or a $30k price tag are necessary. The reason people think they need to go 300 miles is because ICE cars go 300 miles, and they go that far because the cost of additional range is very close to zero- just a bigger tank. When the cost of a benefit (range) is close to zero, you take a lot of it. So 300 miles should be thought of as an absolute maximum need. In BEV’s, even as electric batteries become much cheaper, consumers and manufacturers are going to have to weigh this range/price trade off. We should expect a variety of ranges to suit different consumers. The price doesn’t have to get to 30k right away either. There’s a market at all different price ranges. The beginning of the end for the ICE is when the virtuous circle of lower cost/better technology leads to larger markets and greater economies of scale and back again to ever lower prices. I think we’ve already entered that circle and the process is accelerating.

          1. Mikael says:

            I know different prices and ranges will suit diffrent people and get them into EV’s. But we were talking about a “typwriter moment” for BEV’s.

            So in other words what it would take for BEV’s to completely wipe out the ICE market. For every customer, independent on their needs, going to buy a new car and not even looking at the ICE as an option.

    3. Mikael says:

      Hey… working 40-44 hours? What do you think we are? Slaves?

      The dutch are down to 29 hours a week on average. There are plenty of robots to do manual labor when human beings can do much more important things… like relaxing 😉

      1. Assaf says:

        or blogging… which can be easily done by robots, considering the intelligence of some Facebook threads and discussion forums.

  6. GeorgeS says:

    Just got in.
    Thx for the mention Assaf!!

  7. Open-Mind says:

    Since humans are the root cause of most current and future CO2 pollution, I think those who are really concerned about climate change should consider having less children. Or better yet, the government should get involved and help make that happen. Perhaps an extra 5% income tax for each of your progeny. Or we could extend the carbon credits concept … “progeny credits” for people with no children.

    Anyone here want to buy my progeny credits? I’ll use your money to buy my next Volt. Thanks!

    1. Mikael says:

      Well, the western world has already done that without any tax on kids. You don’t have to worry about the population, there are less kids born in the world than the year before so the population growt is actually going down (even though it won’t show in absolute numbers for another 40-50 years or so because of increased life expectancy in thirld world countries).

      And the best way to speed up that process is to increase the living standard in thirld world countries… so maybe you should send that Volt to Uganda or so, filled with solar panels, school books, contraceptives, vaccines and a water filtration system. 😛

      1. Open-Mind says:

        If a reduction in growth rate solves the problem, then the CO2 problem has also been solved. The C02 growth rate has been dropping for several years now. I sure am glad we fixed that global climate cooling warming change disruption problem.

        Maybe now we can focus on reducing the skyrocketing US government debt. It’s at $300K / federal-taxpayer and growing fast.

        1. Assaf says:

          It’s nice to hear that you are glad,

          But too bad you are not a climate scientists.

          The climate scientists somehow don’t think the global warming problem is “fixed”.

          As to “The C02 growth rate has been dropping for several years now:” this statement is flat-out wrong. It’s a matter of simple measurements. The graph is shown in my Part II, maybe you want to re-read it:
          http://insideevs.com/op-ed-elephant-ev-room-part-ii-dont-believe-global-warming/

        2. Mikael says:

          Well, the population problem and global warming are two very different animals. We don’t want or need zero population, we want a stable population or maybe a slight drop in numbers.
          Over population isn’t really a concern or a problem anymore.

          Even the slightest emission on the other hand adds to the total which mean that anything but zero emission will increase the problem. So even if the emission level were stable or even dropping it would still need a lot of work to drop faster and to get to zero emission faster.

        3. Open-Mind says:

          Sorry my bad … C02 output has only been decreasing in Europe and North America.

          http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8

          My larger point … since all people use energy and exhale C02, C02 output will continue to increase with population.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

          But nobody wants to challenge that elephant.

          1. Mikael says:

            For your larger point:

            Enjoy 🙂 They are really good and interesting. 🙂

  8. Ocean Railroader says:

    I don’t care about global warming in that I don’t care if I don’t do anything to stop it or not.

    My motivations to buy a EV and a solar panel system are far different and more logical based on what in it for me in stead of worrying about some global stuff I have no control over. Such as if you save 50 pounds of coal with some gimmick someone in some other place will burn 200 pounds of coal in your place.

    My motivation for owning a EV is to prepare for $4.50 a gallon gas. And then after I buy the EV I will buy solar panels to avoid having to pay some clown $300 to $400 for power.

    1. Assaf says:

      Good for you.

      As Part I of these series reminded everyone, you still have to thank those people, organizations and governments who *do* care enough to notice global warming, for the great deals you can get nowadays on both EVs and solar panels.

      Instead, it sounds like you have nothing but derision for them at the moment. That’s a little ungrateful of you.

      Anyway, if my little plan (well, it’s not really mine, I just described it) for vehicle market transformation pans out, we might never see $4.50 gas long-term (unless the gas tax is increased, not a bad idea in itself).

      Rather, ICE vehicles might go the way of typewriters: perhaps not expensive, but ridiculously outdated for most practical purposes.

  9. shawn marshall says:

    the earth is possibly entering a cooling phase
    CO2 does not cause global warming
    Global warming may be good, if it were in fact occurring, 17 year pause
    in a grid of 100X100 basketballs there are 10,000 balls, 300 ppm = 3 balls out of 10,000; 400 ppm = 4 balls per 10,000
    Quite an astounding thermal effect for a minimal increase in a benign gas, necessary to life, to cause this great big earth to overheat.
    I am an EV fan but not a global warming kook.

    1. Mikael says:

      You forgot “co2 is plant food, the world is flat and science makes my creator laugh”

      1. Assaf says:

        Thanks Mikael for helping me do the chaperoning work on this thread 🙂

    2. Unplugged says:

      “I am … not a global warming kook.”

      Just a global warming denier kook. If you were to actually understand science, you might also understand which side of this arguments the “kooks” are standing on.

  10. Lindsay Patten says:

    Assaf, I read your linked LCA diary yesterday and just want to say how impressed I am with the way you back yourself up with documented sources. It gets frustrating reading “debates” in which both sides merely make unsupported assertions.

    The one point I don’t think you adequately back up is the idea that coal plants are producing power that would otherwise be wasted if not used to charge EVs. I can’t provide authoritative documentation to the contrary but have read several sources that load following can be and is performed even with coal plants. Here is one link that tends to support this:
    http://www.rnp.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/RNP%20Coal%20Report%2010Aug16.pdf

  11. Aaron says:

    I enjoyed my Commodore PET 8032. Easy to hack, both programmatically and physically. The analogy is correct, though. Only the early adopters and trail blazers have EVs right now.

    If EV adoption happens as fast as PC adoption, we will all be driving EVs in 40 years.