Bill Gates is Wrong About Electric Vehicles

DEC 5 2015 BY TOM SAXTON 144

Plug In America Weighs In On Recent Comments By Bill Gates

Plug In America Weighs In On Recent Comments By Bill Gates

Bill Gates Makes Some Potentially Misleading Statements About EVs

In a recent interview in the Atlantic, We Need an Energy Miracle, Bill Gates made some statements about our transition to a zero-carbon energy economy and electric vehicles which need to be corrected.

On the subject of existing technology and efficiency gains, Gates said:

“But what we’re asking ourselves to do here is change energy—and that includes all of transport, all of electricity, all of household usage, and all of industrial usage. And those are all huge areas of usage. And somebody’ll say to you, “Well, hey, lighting, LED technology, is going to reduce energy consumption from lighting by over half.” That’s true; it’s a miracle, it’s fantastic. But unfortunately, there’s no equivalent in many of these other things, like making fertilizer or making electricity in a general sense. There’s opportunities to conserve that are really good. But the world is going to consume much more energy 30 years from now than it does today.”

Dirtier Than Gas Sometime? Somewhere? And Does That Even Matter?

Is An EV Dirtier Than Gas Someplace In This World? And Does That Data Point Even Matter?

Like LED light bulbs compared to incandescents, electric vehicles are over twice as efficient as comparable gasoline cars. From an energy efficiency standpoint, the EPA rates the two best selling all-electric cars, the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S, at 114 and 101 MPG-equivalent, respectively. That’s about three times the efficiency of the average passenger car in the US (36 MPG) and twice the efficiency of the best hybrid (50 MPG). It’s just physics: electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion engines.

Further, electric cars aren’t just more efficient, and thus less expensive to operate, they are actually better than gas cars. They offer smooth, instant acceleration and a quiet ride that just can’t be matched in a gas car. They are also far more convenient to fuel. Like your cellphone, you plug them in overnight to have a full charge in the morning. People don’t realize how inconvenient going to a gas station is until they experience the electric alternative.

Later, Gates mentions electric cars by bringing out a tired argument that is both misleading and irrelevant.

“People think, Oh, well, I’ll just get an electric car. There are places where if you buy an electric car, you’re actually increasing CO2 emissions, because the electricity infrastructure is emitting more CO2 than you would have if you’d had a gasoline-powered car.”

This argument has been thoroughly discredited. In their 2012 report, State of Charge, the Union of Concerned Scientists state: “There are no areas of the country where electric vehicles have higher global warming emissions than the average new gasoline vehicle.” In a more recent study, they found that over the full vehicle life, from manufacture to disposal, electric vehicles generate half the emission of the average comparable gas car.

Even if Gates’ statement were true, it’s beside the point. As he strongly argues, we need to stop burning fossil fuels to produce electricity. We also need to stop burning oil for transportation. Making each of those transitions is vital to humanity and each will take decades. We cannot wait to do one before we start working on the other.

Editor’s Note/About the Author: This article was penned by Tom Saxton, who serves as Plug In America’s Chief Science Officer, and was submitted to InsideEVs for publishing

This Is The Reality Of Driving An EV Today - The Ability To Operate Much Cleaner (and off petrol) Than Any ICE Vehicle Could Ever Hope For

This Is The Reality Of Driving An EV Today – The Ability To Operate Much Cleaner (and off petrol) Than Any ICE Vehicle Could Ever Hope For

Electric vehicles have the compelling advantage that they can run on any source fuel which can be turned into electricity. Whether we transition to a zero-carbon economy by conversion to current, proven technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal, or some new technology, electric vehicles enable efficient, zero-carbon transportation on our existing low-cost power distribution infrastructure. Regardless of the specific technology, electric cars get cleaner in lockstep with our grid getting cleaner.

We don’t need an “energy miracle” to dramatically reduce our reliance on oil for personal transportation. Electric cars are practical, affordable, available today, and getting better every year.

Categories: General

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

144 Comments on "Bill Gates is Wrong About Electric Vehicles"

newest oldest most voted

Bill Gates sounds as though he has been living in a cave for the last 5 years, a bit like Microsoft !


he could sit on his bum but he is trying.


His mentioning the incorrect “fact” that electric cars are as dirty as gas cars just throws fuel on the fire for those climate change deniers. “Well, Bill Gates said this and he’s a super genius!” (Tell that to Windows Vista, Microsoft Bob, the Zune, etc.)


Gates has some crazy ideas. None of which has panned out.


EVs do trade the tailpipe for the smokestack. In many parts of the U.S. most of the electricity is generated using coal.
That does not mean we should not use EVs, but facing facts is better than pretending it is an all renewable world.


You haven’t read the arcticle well.
Go back and do it again, and when you see this paragraph

” This argument has been thoroughly discredited. In their 2012 report, State of Charge, the Union of Concerned Scientists state: “There are no areas of the country where electric vehicles have higher global warming emissions than the average new gasoline vehicle.” In a more recent study, they found that over the full vehicle life, from manufacture to disposal, electric vehicles generate half the emission of the average comparable gas car.

Dig it, grab it, bit it and digest please.
Without that, none of what you say make sense.


Who do you think you are? Much of the country has coal fired power plants, I never said compared to anything. The point IS EVs are not completely clean.


Coal generation of electricity has been falling for years. And even where it is still the source of electricity, EVs still pollute half as much as an ICE due to ICE inefficiencies versus power plant electricity generation.

The point stands. In a coal using electricity grid, it’s better to drive an EV than drive an ICE.


Don’t be silly. It is clear to me that your comment implies that coal-powered electricity generation = EV ‘pollution’ and Djoni is saying that the article makes it clear that this is not true.

It is not Djoni’s fault that your point was not clearly made in your comment! MW

SJC said: “Much of the country has coal fired power plants, I never said compared to anything. The point IS EVs are not completely clean.” But why is this almost entirely irrelevant point brought up so often in discussions of the virtues of EVs? Why is it brought up over and over again even on a pro-EV website like InsideEVs? People don’t live distributed evenly in all areas. In the USA, population is concentrated in the East and West coast States. And the States where people buy more EVs, like California and Washington, are disproportionately those States with exceptionally low percentages of grid power from coal. Here’s an idea: Let’s compare the population of those very few areas with 80% or more of grid power from coal, places like West Virgina, with the percentage of EV owners who use solar power to offset their use of grid power for charging their EVs. I’ve seen claims in the past that as many as 30% of EV owners use solar power, but Jay Cole in this very discussion claims just 10%, so let’s use that more conservative figure. Wanna bet that solar power doesn’t more than offset the percentage of EV sales… Read more »

And the winner by knockout is Pushmi-Pullyu!


Yes, but I would call it a TKO.


You might also mention that an EV with so few moving parts will likely have a longer lifespan, and over that lifespan it will become cleaner as the grid does. An ICE vehicle never will.


I think you need to reread the article, add my emphasis:

“There are no areas of the country where electric vehicles have higher global warming emissions than the AVERAGE new gasoline vehicle”.

The average new passenger car is 36 mpg, and new light truck is 25.3 listed here:

In Michigan if I own a Fusion Hybrid, and I get 44 mpg in the city, that is cleaner than if I drive a Fusion Energi with an electrical equivalent of 38 mpg. I hope that within 5-10 years all of the US will be above the best gas only vehicle equivalent (50 mpg) but as of TODAY, you can’t say that everywhere is cleaner on electricity, only most places.

jim stack

EVen in COAL states an EV is much more efficient, charges mostly at night Off PEAK. If you know Off Peak is when even COAL plants run at full power since they can’t meet the next days load in time if you turned them down to half power as needed. So they excess power gets dumped, shunted to ground if not used.
So an EV is using the excess waste that would be dumped if not used. EVen in COAL states.

philip d

Will someone please email Bill this link:

Surely he has the 2 minutes needed to read this if he is going to throw his billionaire philanthropist hat in the ring.

Three Electrics

I used this tool and confirmed what I was expecting: in some areas of the country (try 24701) gasoline powered hybrids produce less GHG than electric cars.

Mark Hovis

I plugged in 24701, BEVs 239 grams. For a LEAF 271 grams vs 381 grams for gas. Tesla Model S 85 was 254 grams. So, even in a cherry picked zip code the answer is NO.

Now, with 1-in-3 EV drivers offsetting the electricity with solar, their grams go to zero. You can bet that a third of the Tesla owners are the first to make the change. When this data is factored, the grams are closer to 165 grams.

I only have one EV, and I offset mine with solar. You would think one that professes to own three would as a minimum educate the actual data vs the perceived error.

Three Electrics

I chose the first Tesla parameters (60) and it loses to a hybrid by about 15 grams.

Solar panels are great, but they don’t impact these numbers: if the owner of solar panels switched their Model S 60 to a hybrid in the above zip code, overall GHG would still decrease, because solar is tied to net metering–if you drove a hybrid your solar would offset the same amount of electricity at peak, but you’d be using gas rather than off-peak electricity to fuel your car, which is a net reduction in total GHG. Solar is completely independent of the car you drive until you go completely off grid.


What hybrid?

Mark Hovis

Exactly. Hybrid average compared to a single large luxury BEV. Who would make such a comparison? Someone with three electrics???

Three Electrics

The site above has a tool that allows you to make exactly these comparisons. And it is a relevant point, as it means that BillG comment can be true depending on how you crunch the damn lies–er, the statistics. Other researchers have crushed the numbers and confirmed Bill’s statement, but I don’t know which research is most credible.

Mark Hovis

Solar is not completely independent. If it were, utilities would not restrict the amount of energy sold through net metering. Your EV is an integral part of your electricity used. You are allowed to include that usage as a factor of electricity. Every renewable kWh added to the grid is useful in reducing emissions up to the point where more energy is placed on the grid than is needed by the utility. PV and EVs feed each other in adoption. If and when net metering is altered, or no longer exists, home energy storage will continue to drive emissions down for EV-PV combinations. For these applications, EV-PV will always benefit each other.

As for your example, picking a large luxury class EV (Tesla), combined with the worst of areas in electricity generation, and comparing to ICE averages is a little disingenuous don’t you think? And even given the cherry picked example, the grid itself gets cleaner every year thus ultimately making your Tesla 60 cleaner in the worst of zip codes.


What these “tailpipe emissions” arguments never mention, is there’s electricity used to CREATE gasoline. A LOT of electricity. This electricity is never factored in on the tailpipe emissions calculations. Also there’s petroleum used to transport the gasoline to the gas stations.

This video explains it.


The problem with that “Lots of electricity is used to make gasoline” argument is that no one seems to have accurate numbers on it. I wish someone did.

They do use a lot of energy but I think much of it is from burning fossil fuels to heat stuff to separate the various hydrocarbons. And in a way . . . that is even worse since they are creating a lot of greenhouse gases burning junk fuel during the refining process.


I typed “how much electricity is used to make a gallon of gas” on Google and the first result was this one:

“The short answer: 6 kilowatt hours.”


Unfortunately that 6 kWh per gallon figure has little data to support it. It’s more of a guess than a fact. The reality is that Big Oil successfully hides just how much electricity is used in the refining process, so we really don’t know. (And just why does Big Oil refuse to make this info public? I think the answer is obvious, but then as an EV advocate I’m prejudiced.)

Here is a very long and detailed article on the subject here, if you really want to dive deep into the subject:


you guys have to move with the times and forget about gallons and start talking in Litre’s.


To expand in RL’s video – multiply the number of cars in the UK (for example, currently 30m) by the 9200 mile average they do each year / 3 (miles/kWh) = 92m GWh of electricity required for the entire UK car fleet annually (all the other road-based vehicles add another ~10%).

So 5.6k GWh saved by not refining fuel to run cars is a bit of a drop in the ocean… and we get all those other by-products of refining oil as well. Hmmmm… Even more reason to install more wind and solar! MW

Three Electrics

I should say that my comparison car was the Model S, above. An i3 would do much better.


So you find the one in a thousand that fit your perception and you call that significant.

Sure, we all trust your judgment.


Three Electrics said:

“I should say that my comparison car was the Model S, above. An i3 would do much better.”

Well, “Three Oil Companies”, thank you for yet another example of how Big Oil propagandists cherry-pick extreme outlier figures to support their anti-EV FUD and lies.

Three Electrics

Let’s not get distracted. This article claims that Bill Gates made a statement which is factually incorrect, namely, that somewhere a gas powered car emits fewer GHGs than an EV. I am pointing out potential spots where his statement could be true (others have made similar claims, see: That’s all. Untwist your panties, take a deep breath, and resist your base urges to engage in ad homimem attacks. Be better than Elon.


Three Electrics continued spouting anti-EV FUD:

“I used this tool and confirmed what I was expecting: in some areas of the country (try 24701) gasoline powered hybrids produce less GHG than electric cars.”

So you’re comparing one type of EV (HEV) to another (BEV).

Rather irrelevant to the actual fallacious “long tailpipe” argument, which compares gasmobiles to plug-in EVs.

Three Electrics


Bill Gates said “gasoline powered car.”. I am posting out scenarios under which his statement could be correct. I am not attempting to jump to any conclusions, but please, be my guest.


In some places the 100 mpge is actually 40 mpge. You have to account for the energy required to generate the electricity.


And if we count electricity generation costs, then we also need to count the costs for drilling, refining, transporting, and pumping gasoline on the other side. It’s only fair.


What kind of car does Bill Gates drive?
The last photo shows interesting parking by the red Volt.


Your question has an interesting answer.

A Porsche 959, which doesn’t have a catalytic converter. When he imported it from Germany, it was impounded in a customs shed for 13 years because it couldn’t meet emission standards and wasn’t crash tested. But Bill and his rich friends eventually got the government to pass the “Show and Display” law, which exempted cars like the Porsche 959, making it legal to drive in the U.S.. It’s good to be rich.


As part of an “environmental crackdown” in Bill Gates’ home state of Washington, the Show or Display vehicles may lose their exemption. Governor Chris Gregoire is looking at ways to cut pollution and a prime target are catalytic converter-free cars like these exempted vehicles and their “gross emissions.”

Mugshot of a young rich speed demon:


Actually if people looked past the borders of the USA they would find that there are parts of the world where electric cars are more polluting than petrol / diesel cars. An example of this is the state of Victoria in Australia. With the majority of its electricity supply coming from brown coal EVs don’t currently make sense (without your own solar panels).

Google “Victorian EV trial” and


Too bad he keep spending on new stuff when what we really need is the present tech put into production.
We already have what is needed to get off FF’s, we just need the simple machines, devices to catch, make, convert natural energies, wastes into clean power, synfuels.
Until these are done, oil, FF’s can’t be replaced.
So start a revolving loan fund for equipment producers to start up, expend and for customers to buy them, EV’s, insulation, etc that costs NOTHING as it even can make a profit.
Start an X Prize for solar CSP with biomass, heat storage backup in home, small business sizes at costs under $2k/kw.
Same for home wind generators at under $1k/kw.
Order large amounts of these, inverters, etc and sell cheap to the poor.
1 US home size unit could do wonder in a offgrid village giving everyone light, cell ph charging, water pump, etc.
These will make a bigger difference than Gates Nuke reactor for a fraction of the price.


I have to disagree on the “home wind generators”.
These are a sad, underproducing, joke for most city users. The reasons are:

1. The unfortunate cube law governing power output versus wind speed (since wind speed is typically much less than generator spec. value most of the time). 1/2 the wind speed = 1/8 the power output.

2. Chaotically fluctuating wind patterns undercutting the “wind catching” ability of the generator anyway.

Both above factors unfortunately hold true in an urban environment where height limitations preclude the proper siting of the generator well clear of building-induced wind speed and direction perturbations.


In NYC, I’ve seen some vertical wind turbines on top of luxury condos. They don’t seem to be doing much spinning.


Indeed. Small wind is pretty much pointless. Considering the inefficiency and maintenance, it is not worth doing except in a remote cabin where you have nothing else.


MikeM said:

“I have to disagree on the ‘home wind generators’.
These are a sad, underproducing, joke for most city users.”

They’re a sad, underproducing joke for suburban and rural dwellers, too. Installing a home wind turbine may give someone a nice feeling about being “green”, but the sad truth is that a typical home wind turbine doesn’t produce more than about 1-2% of typical home electricity needs.

Tesla Mag

I admire Bill Gates for creating Microsoft but he has been very wrong on a number of topics which are outside the software field, like he is a big supporters of GMO and the use of chemical fertilizers.


I’m with Gates on both of those.


We do not need more GMO food and more fertilizer to keep everybody fed, we just need fewer people. Especially in the Third World. THAT is the real problem.


You will not get fewer people, you will get slower growth, but eventually there will be about 10-11 billion people.

And they will all strive for a decent lifestyle and we have no right to %$#*& up the planet so bad as to deny them the chance.

One of Bill Gates’ greatest contributions to humanity is in promoting women’s health and education in the underdeveloped world, which is the best known way to decrease both birth rate and child mortality.


Population “control” is easy.
You just educate young girls world wide.
You put them in school, till they’re college age and you’ve delayed their reproductive cycle, along with making them smarter citizens.

it’s a no brainer.


Completely agree. But even if we magically get to and stay at 2 kids per woman worldwide, you still end up with 9-10 billion people in 2050.

“s” said: “…eventually there will be about 10-11 billion people. “And they will all strive for a decent lifestyle and we have no right to %$#*& up the planet so bad as to deny them the chance.” The current human population is already far past the “carrying capacity” of planet Earth, especially if you want everyone to have a “decent lifestyle”, which means consuming far more resources per person than someone living at the subsistence level of a stone-age hunter-gatherer. We’re already consuming natural resources far faster than the Earth can naturally renew them. I’m not sure that the Earth’s ecosystem could even support 10 billion large mammals, period. What is the limit of fresh water supplies? Of the renewability of the farmland soil — especially after we run out of the oil and phosphorus used to make fertilizer? How fast can forests regrow adult trees which are cut down? Maintaining a good lifestyle for everyone, yet maintaining sustainability — that is, using resources at a slow enough rate that nature can renew the forests, the land, and fresh water supplies — will require drastically reducing the current human population. By how much? I dunno… this is a subject where… Read more »

Surely the main problem is that the human race is so appallingly inefficient at using and recycling resources that is the main barrier to sustainable human expansion? If we dealt with water like the ISS does, we wouldn’t have anything like the water shortage problems that exist on the planet.

Agriculture is another area where the most insane amount of waste goes on. Just the millions of tons of perfectly good food that is destroyed annually by farmers simply because the carrots aren’t straight enough or apples not red enough is an absolute moral scandal, let alone the hopelessly inefficient way we grow food generally;- all that smashing and bashing the ground by fossil fuel-powered machines rather than hydroponically grown and automatically harvested food using 1/10th the energy, water, land area, fertiliser etc, etc. This is the real future for feeding the human race. MW


Also, people in the Third World don’t eat tonnes of beef and don’t drive thousands of miles, and don’t fly around the world. They are not the problem. They will be (and in places already are) the first victims of climate change.

philip d

Of course they will be the problem as many of those billions will slowly begin to industrialize and use more and more energy per capita.

That’s why we need to be inventing the cost effective solutions so they can adopt those rather than the hugely energy intensive, century old solutions that are available to them.


In other words, we should be leading by example, so that when they strive to catch up to our lifestyle, it will be achievable with much less than our current emissions per capita.


We would be far better off if Gates and his friends spent their wealth buying politicians, as the fossil fuel interests have. We don’t have decades to develop an infrastructure for electric vehicles to replace ICE. We need to cap GHG emissions now. This would require action from politicians whose backbones are greatly stiffened by large infusions of money.

Of course EVs are more efficient than a comparable ICE. But a 56 mpg 2016 Prius ECO would be over twice as efficient as the SUVs or trucks that people actually buy.

Mr. Gates assumes we will be consuming more in 30 years, as do many green tech advocates. If they are correct, our fate is already sealed.


I don’t think that it is the USA or Europe consuming more, it’s Africa and parts of Asia. Dung cooking fires aren’t doing anyone a favor.


Yeah. The problem is those starving people and their damned dung.

By any measure, the developed world created the problem, and will continue to be the problem until it all ends badly.

Ordinary Guy

MPGe is a horrible comparison for energy usage versus gas, it’s an artificial calculation created based on fluctuating values and doesn’t represent any real world data other than gas prices that are almost double what they are today.

You should have talked about energy efficiency of electric versus gas engines, how much energy is lost, etc.


There are no dollar signs anywhere in the formula for MPGe

It’s based on the energy content of one gallon of gasoline, if burned at 100% efficiency.

It’s still terrible as a measure, but for other reasons – because it is stupid to talk about gallons when dealing with electricity.


Also Wind Power. EV’s can use wind power.
Wind requires no 30-50 year supply of coal or fracked gas, and the pollution, and energy resources to run an electric generator or peaker plant.

Secondly, battery storage is going on strong. We will soon be retiring half the fleet of carbon generators and the ones left will be run in a more efficient manner.

Mister G

Gates needs to be educated on BEV.

True, but Gates, and others forming the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, are really about something different with respect to CO2, Paris, etc. They are taking the arguement I’d paraphrase as “renewables and efficiencies together will not address CO2 fast enough”. This, I agree with, as despite recent successes people are grossly over-confident in the face of the numbers. If I were king, I could raise three years worth of department of defense budgets, and eliminate fossil fuels in the U.S. (2-3 trillion), using just those two methods. I’m not, and neither is anyone on this board. At that, such success would represent just one counrty (~1/5 of CO2) on the planet. They advocate continued nuclear research, more than they are out to disparage electric cars, etc. They’re “young”, yet. With EPA expecting fossil fuels to remain 60% of our electric mix in 2030 (despite efficiencies modeling and low load growth already in that projection, Tom), it is really sad to see nuclear plants closing, because they’re a few cents a KWh behind natural gas. Entire state objectives, for solar energy/CO2 such as in MA, get swallowed up by what is likely to replace single nuclear plant closures (Pilgrim 658MW Vs. 1.2GW… Read more »
Mister G

Renewables will not decrease CO2 emissions fast enough because the developed countries are too addicted to fossil fuels…for instance, you want toast at all times and you want it fast.


Actually al it takes is one and only one decision a roof tax on the roofs that are not equipped with photovoltaic. Something like 1$/square meter per year. You put photovoltaic you don’t pay it otherwise you pay it each year. After a while not much people are going to have uncovered roofs and as a result electric production will skyrocket and will be in abundance available for whatever.

@Priusmaniac in my life’s experience, taxes solve zero problems, they simply create revenue for a more powerful, controlling government. Did a single person decide “hey, I’d better quit smoking, the taxes are too high?” Besides, there’s a road tax, sales tax, income tax, property tax — do these taxes discourage anything? I’d prefer to see private industry solve the problems, driven by customer demand. For myself, I want solar, but my house is occluded in shade from some lovely, leafy mature oak trees, every month that doesn’t have an “R” in it. Mill Valley, CA is in a similar situation, only it is redwood trees, which is an evergreen. Amarillo, TX, however, if that’s where you live, you have no excuse. I used to be a huge fan of nuclear power, and I still think it has considerable value in several situations (too far from the sun, no atmosphere, etc), however from an infrastructure perspective, it is exorbitant. The SSTAR reactor from LLNL is an example of a 30MW reactor that fits on the back of a flat-bed truck: when it is used up, it gets recycled. That project dead-ended as far as I know. A similar coal plant puts… Read more »

Entertaining rant. Enjoy your trees.

Your point that evs are more efficient than ice powered vehicles is of course correct, but it is damning with faint praise. Ice vehicles are basically heaters that provide mechanical power as a side effect. Only a small portion of the ff burned does useful work, on the order of 20%. Electric vehicles do much better with combined motor/motor controller/drive train efficiency of around 75% (motor ~ 88%, controller ~92%, drive train ~ 93% over a range of operating conditions). But ice vehicle efficiency didn’t concern us because we always had an as much supply of ff (energy/time or power) as we required, and could ramp it up at will. We know we will have much less energy supply in the form of electricity for quite some time, so we will need to use much less energy for transport. I think we will be using less energy in 30 years rather than more as Gates predicts, and not because we want to. We will be using less ff’s due to the ~5% production decline rate of conventional oil fields and short production life of “tight” oil wells, and the ramp up of alternative energy sources to a significant portion of… Read more »

Reasonable assertions with which I am in agreement.

Thomas J. Thias


Sorry Bill Gates,

“Any Study Compiled, Published or put Forth on Electric Fueled Vehicles and Grid Efficiency that does not include the metric of Off-Peak Utility Over Generation is factually flawed and borders on disinformation”

Thomas J. Thias

Here’s Why-


April 30, 2015 at 8:27 am


“”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.””

Ed. Now if only there was only some way to store this massive, daily, off-peak, wasted, Over Generation of electricity, for base load peak energy demand…

Link Goes To Torque News And Full Report on US Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn)Statement Entered Into Congressional Record, 05.19.2011-


Link Goes Full Article As Published On Inide Ev’s On April 30th, 2015-


Thomas J. Thias




I hope you do realize non carbon nuclear and hydro already are consumed at nearly 100% of their peak, only coal and gas production capacity is “wasted”


I don’t know where your information came from, but it’s very misleading.

Hydro power plants, by definition, produce more power than can be used with current tech. It costs a lot of money and energy to shut them off, so they’re simply left running, even at night when usage drops off dramatically.

(Hydro works by capturing the energy provided by the movement of water, either through gravity – like a waterfall – or by creating water reservoirs whose flows can be controlled.)

In other words, until we can capture and store all the energy that’s being produced but not used, we are wasting huge amounts of energy that’s being created by these otherwise clean, efficient generators.


TJT said:
“Now if only there was only some way to store this massive, daily, off-peak, wasted, Over Generation of electricity, for base load peak energy demand…”

Hydrogen in salt caverns and in the natural gas infrastructure?


I really Love electric cars but I Will hang on to my audi a2 TDI until it dies. After that I think want a Nissan Leaf. Next week I will try 100% HVO biodiesel made ONLY from food- and meatwaste. It’s basically identical to ordinary diesel if you look at it from a molecular level. One major advantage with HVO is that I should be able to drive it until the temperature reaches -34 C Celsius. That is perfect for the Swedish winter. I’ve been told it reduces CO2 emissions with 87-90% compared to regular diesel. This is indeed the second generation biodiesel.


Don’t forget to bring it in for the emissions fix. Please.


Bill is associated with saying 640K should be enough for everyone.

His statements on BEVs seem similar…


Unfortunately people do not know everything. If you don’t interest yourself too much in bev a misconception can be that the co2 emissions are no better then a gas car.

It’s to people like us, who actually read about it, to explain that even a BEV on 100% dirty coal is still better then a prius.

Bill Gates does a lot of good things for the planet at the moment. I for one am happy that there are also billionaires out there investing in other stuff that helps our planet. He’s not investing in nonsense and someone called him out on the thing he’s not busy with. His knowledge was dated but at least he knows how to help the planet further in other ways.

One more time: nobody knows everything, even very knowledgeable people are sometimes wrong when asked questions about stiff they are not busy with right now. Cut him some slack, but if you ever bump into the guy, tell him the current state of affairs and he might change his ideas about this.


“It’s to people like us, who actually read about it, to explain that even a BEV on 100% dirty coal is still better then a prius.”

Except that’s 100% wrong.

Seems like all the reading you’ve been doing hasn’t gotten you the facts.

That’s the problem with super biased articles like this one. If you’d read the Union of Concerned Scientist reports directly, instead of having them misinterpreted via this site, you’d probably understand the nuances of EV emissions a lot better.


Here’s the latest update to the UCS study. Take a look at the map half-way down on this page.

You’ll see lots of numbers less than a Prius’s 50 MPG. (Or 56 MPG, if you wanna throw in the most efficient 2016 version)

And none of these regions are 100% coal. If they were, it’d be even worse.

Jay Cole
It is probably disingenuous to take the numbers and compare to very peak of ICE efficiency and ignore the rest, as 15.8 million light vehicles have been sold in the US, only 165k of which were the Prius…or 1 in 95. (1.04%) Past the Prius the MPG drops very fast. ie) you are taking the tippy-top of ICE and comparing to the bottom of EVs regionally There is also some other caveats to consider. In places where the grid is extremely dirty (especially in the 3rd world/developing countries), the reality of the passenger cars being driven are not 2016 Prii…they are far, far worse, huge emission spews/MPGs, usually much worse than the minimum standard allowed today for NA, Europe, etc…and the vehicles are much older and out of service. At the same time, more than 10% of EV owners also already have a PV system, so that zero-sum can’t be discounted…the UCSUSA surveys (as well as other worldwide census) DO NOT accounted for the EVs currently operating under renewable power generated directly at point of origin and the crazy high efficiency they operate at. So while US statistic (if you take it at face vale as correct and actually accounting… Read more »

Okay. I went with a European report I read a while ago. Is this cradle to grave calculations? Did we take into account the fact that gasoline takes already power to be manufactured? That it takes gasoline to bring gasoline to the gas station? I’m not going to give you the whole list of these things, and I’m also not going to read the entire report. Somebody researched this before and concluded way more positive. Perhaps this union of concerned scientists wants to make a case against coal powered plants? If so they might have lost sight of secondary goals and didn’t take ALL calculations into account. The conclusion that you want to reach is usually the conclusion that you will find. Even very good scientists fall prey to this trap.

Anyway if reports say things that do not match, we can always conclude that we are not sure..


The UCS report is a well-to-wheels CO2 calculation/analysis of the gasoline or electricity used to power car.

A cradle-to-grave calculation for ICE vehicles and EVs would include CO2 emissions from extracting raw materials, manufacturing the car, and disposing/recycling the car.

Kosee said:
“The conclusion that you want to reach is usually the conclusion that you will find. Even very good scientists fall prey to this trap.”

“Anyway if reports say things that do not match, we can always conclude that we are not sure..”

Are you saying we should question global warming?


Bill Gates views on EV’s are out of step with Microsofts. Did you know they provide the software for EV’s like Ford Focus Electric and the Nissan Leaf and they have chargepoints at their major offices.


Oh forgot to add, ABB rapid chargers themselves are also powered by Microsoft (as in software not energy!)


So, the’re easy to hack and infect with malware?

Sam C

Bill Gates view on EV is the same like Microsoft’s approach to mobile phone and operating systems.

I’m an EV advocate too, but this article to be insufferably disingenuous, misleading, and dickish. It glosses over more facts than Gates does, and does so in a far more purposely biased way. Gates’ first quote refers to changes to energy use for “ALL OF TRANSPORT” lacking a simple, quick, economic fix similar to switch an incandescent bulb to LED. OF COURSE HE’S RIGHT. And this author Is either an idiot or a disingenuous partisan for taking offense to such a benign an obviously correct statement. Also, Gates isn’t talking exclusively about light passenger vehicles, as the author seems to be presuming. “All of transport” includes airplanes, transoceanic ships, big rig trucks, freight trains, etc., many of which are not well-suited for electrification. Passenger vehicles only make up a fraction of transportation energy consumption. And pointing to MPGe rating as evidence of the relative advantage in EV efficiency is similarly misleading/wrong/disingenuous, given that electricity production efficiency losses are not included in MPGe figures. And re: the statement about electric cars potentially being dirtier in “some places”, that’s not 100% wrong, despite the author’s insistence. It depends on what vehicle you’re replacing. The UCS study used *average* vehicle efficiencies to make… Read more »

You clearly don’t know what you are talking about.


And your substanceless post shows that you do?

On which point am I wrong?


Well the general tone that the writer is an idiot is insulting, but the overall conclusions I find lacking in a even handed exploration of the question.

You say that the Mpge is unfair because they don’t include transmission losses. By the same token the oil extraction gas industry flares off millions of cubic feat of natural gas contributing to global warming and reducing efficiency of the process as a whole. You also have to include all the loses and waste. Also if and electric transmission line breaks, its a drag, but it does not spill millions of gallons of oil into the environment in the process.

Diesel/electric engines have been around since the 1990’s. I don’t if you would consider that electrification but leaving it out just shows to me a lack of knowledge and a general understanding of the subject which you are pontificating on.

I could go on, but what’s the point? You have your point of view, and I don’t think you are wrong about everything you say, but that your argumentation is sorely lacking, and unconvincing.

I am not accusing you of the following but some of what you say resembles oil industry trollish FUD.

mr. M

Typo error? They have been around since 1900’s. Not 1990’s.


Right the way it reads. I meant to say for Trains, but left out that part.
” Early diesel-electric locomotives in the United States used direct current (DC) traction motors, but alternating current (AC) motors came into widespread use in the 1990s, starting with the Electro-Motive SD70MAC in 1993 and followed by the General Electric’s AC4400CW in 1994 and AC6000CW in 1995.”
The earlier diesel electric trains came out as early as the 1920’s and by the 1940’s had completely replaced steam.
Good catch. Thanks.


Upon reflection, I shouldn’t have been so harsh and personally vitriolic in my post. I know that when you attack a person or position, it immediately makes people defensive and less responsive to new information, which is counter-productive. So sorry for that.

I just get frustrated when people “on my side” of an argument (in this case, the pro-EV and pro-environmental sides) overstate or misstate the facts, or attack a fellow ally, like Gates, for making (almost entirely) factual statements.


I can get that. We all tend to be overly harsh in our criticisms. At first I just glossed over it, but you kept hammering on the stupidity of the author. Also sorry If was a bit harsh in my above response.
Peace out.

Thanks for the pass on my earlier lack of civility 🙂 Responding to a few of your counter-points… Re: diesel-electrics: that’s not really electrification. It’s just a diesel engine paired with an electric transmission rather than a mechanical one. All of the energy is still coming from the diesel fuel and none from the grid, and there’s typically no energy storage like there is with a battery a hybrid car. Re: MPGe and upstream energy losses and emissions in gasoline production: Certainly there are also losses in oil extraction and refining. Many studies comparing EV’s to ICEV’s already take this into account. It’s a metric that’s hard to nail down with much accuracy or concensus though. But I’ve never read anything suggesting that losses or emissions in the production of gasoline or diesel approach anything near the ~60-70% losses in electricity production from fossil fuels — mainly due to power plant generation losses, but also transmission losses. Also, natural gas and coal used for electricity also have their own upfront extraction energy requirements in the same way oil does. (Although there isn’t a “refining” energy portion for those fuels.) My main point was just that saying that a 100 MPGe… Read more »

Well done for making up! A lesson to all of us.

Interesting though that as you are clearly both well informed, intelligent and lucid and yet your views often oppose – what hope is there for us all in this debate… or the implied ramifications for humanity and the planet in general?! MW


Hey mw, thanks for the comment. I am not hopeful though I think there is hope. Pushed to extremes is usually what it takes to get humanity to change, and things are starting to get pretty extreme.


I think it is true that ev advocates tout the benefits of evs ignoring some of the methods by which that electricity is generated. Though as the grid cleans up the gap between the pollution potential of each method of production widens.

Without coal as a generator I think you would agree evs are less polluting, and since coal is on the way out as a fuel used to produce electricity, gradually the grid becomes cleaner. Many of the worst, read dirtiest, coal plants have been or are in the process of being decommissioned, while newer coal fired plants are cleaner.


That first sentence is a bit confusing. I meant as the grid cleans up the gap between the two methods of motivation ice and evs widens. Evs gradually get cleaner while ice stand still.


Jsmay311 said:

“…electricity production efficiency losses are not included in MPGe figures.”

Nor are the efficiency losses of energy used during petroleum refining included in MPGe figures. They can’t be included, because Big Oil companies refuse to disclose those figures. If you’re actually the EV advocate you claim to be, then this is a subject regarding which you should educate yourself.

* * * * *

MPGe is a really bad metric, one which should never have been adopted. It’s a foolish attempt to try to rate the energy efficiency of EVs as though they were gasmobiles; as though electricity is simply a different sort of “fuel”.

The sooner we all quit using the misleading MPGe metric, the better.


Gates is correct for some parts of the world. For example, much of China’s pollution is due to burning coal (cheap). In such case EV is actually worse than gas cars. China is improving, but there are other nations up and coming.

But it doesn’t matter. What’s more likely to kill humanity (physically, mentally, socially) is not climate change; it’s oil funded nutjobs (eg. ISIS). In this regard, even coal powered EV is better than oil. Chances are, you’re directly funding ISIS when you pump gas. Black market is just that; you really don’t know where it’s going.


The chance that you are pumping gas from isis controlled oil is miniscule.
While isis is no joke they are really just a slight blip on the radar tracking the progress of humanity.

Things are not good certainly in regards to our energy consumption profile, but they are getting better not worse. I think Bill Gates is overly pessimistic in regards to energy consumption which is becoming more efficient, not less. Electric vehicles being a fine example of what can be done in this arena.


Oil from ISIS is miniscule, but tiny percent of trillion dollars is HUGE for tiny outfit like ISIS. They don’t need jets and tanks, just some Twitter accounts. ISIS is a current example; such idiotic ideology has been getting worse, not better, thanks to oil money.

I think world energy profile will get worse before it gets better. We have several billion more people to get up to speed (ie, not use cheap coal) before there’s over all improvement. I doubt it’s likely in short term. Of course, there’s the possibility for Mr. Fusion 5 to 10 years away…


Well certainly isis has figured out how to use modern technology to spread their terror, and their horrific acts are not trivial, and they get around 40% of their income from oil.
So I don’t disagree that they derive some funding from oil.

Many newer emerging economies are leap-frogging to the newer tech, just as they did with cell phones. They did not built a land-line network first, as now they are transitioning to solar without building the huge power plant infrastructure that preceded that development.

Sure its not all unicorns and rainbows, but I think things are actually looking up, at least in regards to the energy consumption profile, and the cleanliness and efficiency of such.


40% from ISIS oil is just direct funding. Indirect is far higher (probably close to 100%). For example, 9/11 morons came from Saudi, even recent SB shooter was radicalized in Saudi. One may say outfits like Hamas don’t get funding from oil, but they actually do through indirect means.

Solar is still too expensive for upcoming countries compared to coal. Sure, small scale solar is fine for villages with foreign subsidies. But when they want to fire up their industry, it will be way too expensive.

Considering many (most? all?) up and coming countries are cleptocracies, I doubt things will get better any time soon, even with foreign subsidies for solar, etc. But like China, when they wise up and see their citizens choking, only then they’ll do something. That will take time unless there’s a clean alternative that’s cheaper than coal.


I agree that for heavy industry solar is not a likely for underdeveloped countries. Though developing heavy industry is not necessarily the answer for them either.


I hate to disagree with Tom – but I think some of Gates points have merit. It may be a question of context.

I’d put it this way – EVs by themselves will not solve climate change problem. We need several other technologies. Like Obama says – all of the above.

mr. M

Gates is right, there are places where EVs make more CO2 than a comparable gasoline car, think of countries with old (think 1920) coal plants, that use no filter. Or poor countries where everyone use a gasoline generator to produce it’s own electricity.

In most of these countries you can’t buy a EV.

He should have added that in all developed countries BEV improve CO2 reductions.


Dear Bill would have just a smidge more credibility when he bleats on about what the commoners need to do regarding climate change if he didn’t have a 66000 square foot house and a Global Express. He needs to lead by example. Sell the jet and donate the proceeds to Plantabillion and then slap about 300 solar panels on that modest shack would be a good start. Only then would I begin to care what he thinks about the environment.


Bill Gates is mostly right here, but EV fundamentalists just choose to ignore reality, fanaticism blinds them. Just go to, check green house gas emissions for electric cars beyond tailpipe, and you will see the inconvenient truth. They are not better than regular hybrids in that aspect.

Using MPGe to compare efficiency is totally dumb, it shows not understanding what MPGe means. You need to compare efficiency for the whole circle power plants-grid distribution lines-charge-outlet-car battery-wheels and there is no miracles here, it can’t be much more efficient than good gas car engine, rather the opposite. Especially if you add costs of reserve power plants to keep grid stable and manufacturing costs. It may be simpler just compare total costs of ownership.


If you want to compare the whole thing starting from the power plant for electric cars, that’s fine, but when you do that, you should be comparing it to a total for gas cars that includes the costs and energy necessary for oil exploration, drilling, refining, transporting and pumping, in addition to the gas engine efficiency. does NOT take that into account, which makes the comparison nonsense.


Also remember to include all the costs of the oil wars we have been fighting. That is typically not included in these types of comparisons.

Jouni Valkonen

With renewable the whole notion of energy saving is ridiculous, because instead we need to increase energy production by at least ten fold, because increasing total energy production helps us to integrate variable renewables, because we can just dump intermittent surplus renewable electricity into very low efficiency processess, such as vertical farming, melting of snow and making synthetice Jet Fuel.

What people just do not understand, that the saving of energy is only relevant with fossil fuels and biofuels. With zero emission renewables we can overbuild energy production capacity as dearly as we dare. This can leand into outstanding abundance of resources, because the recycling of recourses is only clean energy issue.

Lindsay Patten

Saving energy is relevant even with renewable energy due to cost. Building a hugely redundant amount of renewable energy generation would be hugely expensive.


“There are places where if you buy an electric car, you’re actually increasing CO2 emissions, because the electricity infrastructure is emitting more CO2 than you would have if you’d had a gasoline-powered car.”

This is, has always been, and continues to be an argument not for avoiding electric cars, but for cleaning up the grid.

mr. M

Best post so far. +1

Lindsay Patten

Wasn’t Bill’s point that we need better technology to clean up the grid cost-effectively?


Bill Gates got incredibly rich mostly by screwing IBM. Doesn’t make him brilliant only devious.

There IS a way to produce cheap clean safe power. see:


the fight doesn’t end with buying an electric. it only begins. if you pay a bit more you can buy green power in Georgia or go roof top solar if that’s an option.


Yeah, Bill Gates has not been all that sharp on energy issues. He fell under the spell of Bjorn Lomborg and Vaclav Smil such that he didn’t think the current renewable energy technologies could do the job.

Fortunately, he seems to wising up a bit and now support renewables much more. But I’m not surprised that he got this bit about EVs wrong.


It’s normal human behavior for people to listen to celebrities as though somehow they know more about every subject just because they’re famous. That’s why celebrities get paid to endorse products and do commercials, even when the product they’re endorsing has absolutely nothing to do with their personal area of experience or expertise.

Yeah, it’s sad that Bill Gates is parroting anti-EV propaganda promoted by Big Oil, but it’s not really surprising. Big Oil has been pretty successful at spreading EV-hating lies. Clearly electric cars, and the generation of grid power, are well outside of Gates’ area of expertise.


Or we are not given a complete picture. Gates is passionate about energy and climate change. He is on our side of the argument. He is not some climate change naysayer, he is bringing the unfiltered truth about first world life. The people of OECD countries have massive carbon footprints, and some of the steps we are convinced about sustainability are not really as sustainable as we think. For better understanding, go to, you will get a better idea of his thinking.


Bill says: “Well, hey, lighting, LED technology, is going to reduce energy consumption from lighting by over half.” That’s true; it’s a miracle, it’s fantastic.

BUT – that’s not true. Lighting accounts for 10% of our US electrical needs. Not half. LEDs are good and will make a big dent in both lighting demand and AC needs in summertime when lighting used to add more heat load to buildings. But if he cannot get the lighting component right for our national grid – how is Gates trust-able on other decision-making areas?

Lindsay Patten

I think you missed the “energy consumption from lighting” part, i.e. you reduce the energy used for lighting by 50%.


The grid has A lot of excess power at night that adding cars to the load will not cause more power generation. They will just drop the voltage a bit overall and stations will not need to do as much variation in their output at night. Also, many EV owners install solar during the day assisting the grid in general.


If Gates hadn’t known about the existence of an operating system called QDOS developed by a little company called Seattle Computer Products when he heard IBM was shopping for an OS, no one would know who Bill Gates is today. He was slick enough to see an opportunity and take advantage of it. He bought the rights to QDOS for $50,000 and then licensed it to IBM for $40 for every computer sold.

Is it a surprise he knows next to nothing about a lot of other things? He says we need a “breakthrough” in energy in order to save the planet’s climate instead of rapidly building out the wind and solar technology we already have.

While he does some great things with his money, I don’t think he contributes a dollar to family planning services around the world to make up for what our government refuses to provide.

Mr. M

i am sure we need a breaktrough because solar or wind + battery is not affordable if you live in the middle of africa and want power for the whole day. The upfront cost is far lower for buing a cheap honda motor and leave it running all day, than for solar + backup battery.

Solar is reaching grid parity in developed countries, but that doesn’t mean the poor people around the world will take advantage of it tomorrow.

And we need a breakthrough, because even if we redcude carbon emission the climate will still warm up for the next 60-200 years to come. We need nearly 80% reduction (around tomorrow) to stay below a increase of 2°C, or 100% reducion in 2050. This are levels you can not reach without a real breakthrough in technology or a radical shift in poltics, which will be even harder!

See article related topic how fast we need change:

Lindsay Patten

I think people are being a little too harsh with Bill. There are places where replacing a Prius with a Leaf will increase your emissions, he just failed to add the qualifiers, such as average gas vehicle versus efficient hybrid vehicle, necessary to be precise.

His core point though was that changing consumption is not enough, we need to change generation too, especially if we are going to convert our non-electrical energy consumption to electricity. Of course one can argue over whether we need new generation technology or if the current renewables are sufficient, but a few breakthroughs in clean energy generation would certainly be helpful, even if they just drive the price of existing technologies down.

Scott Franco

The issue is not Bill Gates. The issue is that the press appears to think that anyone rich is automatically a genius, especially in the tech world.

What has Bill Gates done that would make him an expert on EVs? (hint: Operating systems don’t have a lot to do with EVs).


Right. Americans worship people with money. One party is about to nominate a candidate for president whose only qualification is that he makes a lot of money.


Shall I run a wire up three floors to my condo to plug in while leaving the door open? And what if I park on the street? The suggestion that one can just plug the car in is very short sighted.


Getting condo and apartment complexes to install recharging stations is a challenge, but people who have garages usually have an electrical outlet.


Bill Gates is made billions by locking customers in, he doesn’t understand open source, and that means, importantly, he doesn’t understand *distributed* anything. He only understands the word decentralized as it refers to millions of software licenses instead of hundreds. He missed the internet. Twice. He calls solar a ‘toy’. He is a genius at trapping people and denying competition oxygen and he is trying to get into heave now.


Watch ‘Pirates of Silicon Valley’ to see what Bill Gates does and thinks.

Grass roots solutions are not in his vocabulary. Such as Linux.

Joseph Dubeau

” There are places where if you buy an electric car, you’re actually increasing CO2 emissions, because the electricity infrastructure is emitting more CO2 than you would have if you’d had a gasoline-powered car.”

It very easy to see!

Beijing issues first red smog alert

“Schools in Beijing are to close and outdoor construction to stop after the Chinese capital issued its first “red alert” over smog levels.

The red alert is the highest possible, and has not been used in the city before, the state-run Xinhua news agency says. Authorities expect more than three consecutive days of severe smog. Cars with odd and even number plates will be banned from driving on alternate days. The alert comes as China, the world’s largest polluter, takes part in talks on carbon emissions in Paris. Current pollution levels in Beijing are actually lower than last week’s, but the red alert has been placed because of levels expected over the coming days.”



I follow, based on it, Bill Gates has very good idea around Carbon footprint and materials and how they are created. If you read his quote about EVs, he said “there are places..”, the point was going green is more than moving to BEVs etc. There are materials like Steel, Fertilizers, etc, which involves petro-chemicals and we consume those in VAST amounts. Gates knows his SHIT, and probably a handful on this board are in his league in terms of knowledge. I would recommend people to read his complete arguments before bashing him or Microsoft or Office or Clippy or any other thing. What Bill Gates is doing in Philanthropy and in some avenues of Clean energy are interesting. He is fighting the fight and throwing him under the bus is not a smart thing.


I read some part of the Atlantic interview. Bill G. is too deep for most the people. He was discussing comprehensively on this issue, if you have a chance read the interview, instead of reacting to sound bites..

This quote is for the lynch mob,
“Distinguishing a real solution from a false solution is actually very complicated.”


Good article.

Bill Gates is a good man, he’s just misinformed for now and will eventually change his position. It’s not like he really said EVs are a bad idea.

Martin Tesar

I beg to differ that Bill Gates is a good man – when his charity supporting genital mutilation of African men in a BS attempt to prevent HIV.

So I am not surprised he cannot get the facts right either on EV electricity supply.
Maybe he will wise up with age – but then again he is old enough by now ?


What’s the big hoopla guys? Gates has never been a visionary and certainly hasn’t revolutionized anything technically, save for some monopolistic business practices. He’s not worth the comments. He’s a fossil from the past and never quite got it right. Poor guy.