EVs Are 61% Cleaner Than Gas In Minnesota – Well To Wheels Analysis

2 years ago by Mark Kane 34

GHG Emissions: Gasoline vs Electric in Minnesota (Source: Argonne National Laboratory; MN House Research Dept.; Xcel Energy; MISO. Figure authored by Great Plains Institute. April, 2016.)

GHG Emissions: Gasoline vs Electric in Minnesota (Source: Argonne National Laboratory; MN House Research Dept.; Xcel Energy; MISO.
Figure authored by Great Plains Institute. April, 2016.)

State of Minnesota

State of Minnesota

According to the Great Plains Institute’s (GPI) recent analysis, electric cars could provide large GHG reductions in Minnesota.

GPI estimates (using Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET Lifecycle Model), that EVs reduce GHG by “at least 61% in most cases (Xcel Energy electric mix) and 95% in many cases (for vehicle charging on renewable energy subscription programs)“.

“Gasoline vehicles in Minnesota emit an average of 465 grams of GHGs per mile (g/mile) when accounting for the full fuel lifecycle, which includes energy used for fuel extraction and refining. In comparison, full lifecycle accounting of an electric vehicle (EV) in Minnesota results in only 183 g/mile of GHGs on Xcel Energy’s 2015 fuel mix. It is interesting to note that because EVs have no tailpipe emissions, all emissions take place upstream, aka at the power plant and during vehicle manufacturing. And although it currently takes more energy to manufacture an electric vehicle and its battery than to build a gasoline automobile, as you can see in the above graph, the emissions from combusting gasoline vastly outweigh those from vehicle manufacturing.”

The largest benefits will of course be achieved when EVs are 100% powered via renewable energy. In these scenarios, GHGs emissions from electric vehicles, would average about ~21 g/mile (or 95% less than gasoline vehicle).

source: Great Plains Institute

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34 responses to "EVs Are 61% Cleaner Than Gas In Minnesota – Well To Wheels Analysis"

  1. sven says:

    “Gasoline vehicles in Minnesota emit an average of 465 grams of GHGs per mile (g/mile) when accounting for the full fuel lifecycle. . .”

    It looks like the study cherry picked the 465 gram figure, by including very old cars, big honking SUV and pick-up trucks. They should have stated which EV they used in the analysis along with its MPGe rating, and compared it to a competitively-sized ICE car and HEV currently on sale as a brand new car. This way you get as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as you can, and reduce the possibility of the study authors manipulating the numbers to reach a preordained conclusion.

    When the Union of Concerned Scientists did analysis using 2012 power plant data, they calculated that a 43 MPG ICE/HEV would have the same well-to-wheels emissions as a BEV charged in Minnesota.

    Why the difference in the two studies?

    – Do Minnesota ICE really fuel up with gasoline made from 75% Oil Sands crude oil?

    – Are the Xcel mix and MISO mix CO2 figures for the electricity that each local utility generates? If yes, what are the CO2 figures for the electricity coming out of a Minnesota consumers’ outlet? Is it the CO2 figure for the regional (multi-state) grid mix or the CO2 figure for the mix of electricity that the local utility generates? I believe the proper figure is the CO2 figure of the regional grid.

    – Did GPI use more recent power plant data? It appears the Xcel mix is from 2015

    – The GPI study includes vehicle and battery manufacturing, but the UCC analysis does not include it.

    – Why is CO2 emissions for “fuel refining” so high for Xcel and MISO electricity, and significantly lower for “fuel refining” Oil Sands tar? By “fuel refining” they must mean the CO2 from burning mostly coal and some natural gas to create electricity at the power plant. GPI should relable it to something more descriptive, like power plant emissions.

    http://insideevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/177.png

    1. Jeff N says:

      Good questions. Sadly, the Great Plains Institute does not disclose the key underlying assumptions in their “study” so it reads like propaganda that can’t be independently validated.

    2. RexxSee says:

      It seems that you spend all your days looking for some negative points about EVs.
      Cherry picking is your specialty.

      1. sven says:

        At least I spend all my days owning an EV, and part of my days driving an EV. Can you say the same about for yourself?

        1. RexxSee says:

          Of course you own an EV… 😉

          1. sven says:

            So your answer is no?

            1. RexxSee says:

              My answer is that we cannot know for sure if you really own a BEV or if it’s only a part of your deceptive fake profile to add some green credibility to your character.

              My answer is that back in 2007 I made a better ecological choice in choosing a Prius. A good choice is also to not waste another car and using this one at least for a decade, while I pile my cash in order to buy the best cleanest, affordable car on this side of the galaxy.

    3. ffbj says:

      Sven said:”by including very old cars, big honking SUV and pick-up trucks.”
      And just what do you think people drive in MN?

      1. sven says:

        So they won’t be buying a Volt or Bolt to replace their SUV or pickup truck that they currently drive?

        I just think if you’re going to do a study/analysis of CO2 emissions between EVs and ICE/HEVs, then they should be vehicles in the same class size and new model year vehicles, otherwise the study/analysis results are misleading. This study is garbage.

        1. Nick says:

          We replaced a Sienna Van with a LEAF.

          We did this because there are no electric vans available.

          Driving the LEAF is so much nicer than driving the van that we had to put a battery tender on the van since we basically stopped driving it.

          I suspect we’re not alone.

          1. Michael Will says:

            We replaced our second car, a Volkswagen Jetta, with an electric VW Golf January 2015. Our primary car was a Honda Oddysee 2014 model that my wife used to take 40 miles round trip to work every day, sometimes twice because of meetings plus runarounds with the kids. I used to drive the more economic Jetta locally to the train station. She always insisted that the Van makes more sense for her to drive than the Jetta but that quickly changed once we had the eGolf, suddenly 5 seats are enough and I get to drive the shorter distance with the van. We put 20k miles on the electric Golf so far.

          2. Jake Brake says:

            Chrysler pacifica hybrid now comes with a plug.

        2. ffbj says:

          It’s a reasonable point, and I was going to mention it in my response.

      2. sven says:

        How is this study helpful to a Minnesotan who is environmentally conscious and is trying to choose between buying a LEAF vs. a Prius? The study would mislead her into thinking the LEAF is the hands down winner, emitting much less CO2 than a Prius. But the truth is that Minnesota electric utilities burn a lot of coal to generate electricity.

        1. Nick says:

          The data seems to show that’s not the case.

          All gas cars have the triple whammy of refining emissions, in use emissions, and poor efficiency. It’s very hard to get ahead, even for the Prius.

          If people make the hard to believe claim that the crazy inefficient gasoline fuel cycle has fewer emissions than the very efficient battery electric cycle, better triple check the math and assumptions.

        2. przemo_li says:

          If that’s true then switch You energy provider or energy plan.

          Both Xcel varia ts used real world stats as of 2015.

          You can buy renewable power. More people buy it more demand there is more incentives for supply to provide such good energy.

          So Leaf + that energy plan. Prius have not a chance.

        3. floydboy says:

          What??! A Leaf DOES emit less CO2 than a Prius by default! Its a BEV, so its emission of CO2 is automatically less than a car that burns hydrocarbons!

          If you add in the fuel paradigm, the gap gets worse, as the gasoline car requires a more substantial fueling infrastructure.

          The gap will not close if both vehicles use the same source of electricity.

    4. no comment says:

      one of the things about minnesota is that nearly half of all electricity is generated by burning coal. i don’t know what assumptions were used in the cited study.

      the good part of the story is that minnesota could reduce the carbon footprint for electric vehicles by switching to cleaner sources.

      of course that does get into the issue of incentives…

      1. floydboy says:

        Any car that can run on battery power independent of its ICE motor, or any car that runs on pure battery will emit less CO2 than a pure ICE car, regardless of the electrical source.

        If you clean up your electrical source, then you’ll derive even greater benefit from PHEVs and BEVs.

      2. Trace says:

        I watched Fargo. 🙂 It seems that with the flat terrain and the high wind cold fronts coming from Canada, Turbines would be ideal up there.

    5. Djoni says:

      You could say that, but then you would be avoiding the reality that people unfortunately drive mega cars and truck just for the pleasure of riding big.
      This is just one side of humanity that also prefer to blind the fact that they use much more thing than what they really need to be healthy and happy.
      So comparing apples to apples only work if people hate the same number of apples.
      Just to say that wanting SUV, even electric, is most probably, no more coherent if it’s just to move one soul butt.
      Still, I agree, this study doesn’t show much detail, but 2015 data is not old data BTW.

      1. no comment says:

        the problem of people driving cars that are way too big in the U.S. can be solved by: 1)taxing gasoline more heavily to make it more expensive to drive their mega trucks and SUVs; and 2)impose annual carbon taxes to make it more expensive to own mega trucks and SUVs. then people would start to realize that those mega trucks and SUVs aren’t so “necessary” after all. but whether that actually happens is ultimately a political question (which means it’s not likely to happen).

  2. Mxs says:

    It looks like one of those paid for studies …. Seems like one cannot get hands on a truly independent study these days. Someone always has their hands in “it”.

    1. ffbj says:

      Yep, anything that diverges from your particular opinion just can’t be right.

    2. przemo_li says:

      Study may have been prepared to showcase Xcel…

      But that is good, after all next “fresh” data is 5 year old.

      If we can compare both we would know how fast grid mix can change, and weather regulations that took effect in last five years where successful.

  3. georges says:

    I’d predict the same results for Az. It’s not tar sand oil but guaging by the number of diesel pick ups on the road with one person in the cab it’s probably close to the truth.

  4. Nick says:

    Next study: water is wet, and sky is up.

    In all seriousness, I’d like to see a study which looks at well to wheel emissions for Texas refined gasoline. They use the worst brown coal fired refineries down there.

  5. Jeffrey Songster says:

    Yet again we see positive EV nums… even in coal and natgas electricity areas. And places like my house… predominantly solar powered… with 2 LEAFs… the nums are even better.

  6. David D. Nelson says:

    These studies should use a gas Kia Soul and a Kia Soul EV since the exterior is nearly identical in size. This would give the best comparison between ICE and EV with as many things as possible equal.

    1. super390 says:

      But the chart promotes a Windsource by Xcel plan option as being much better. If you check their website, that is shown as 100%, with this note:
      “For comparison, the current average mix of resources supplying Northern States Power customers includes: coal (34.6%), nuclear (27.0%), natural gas (14.8%), wind (13.7%), hydro (7.3%), biomass (2.0%), and other (0.6%).
      [Source: Xcel Energy’s 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report, 2016]”
      So the more people who get that plan, the higher the % of wind overall. But right now Xcel is using more coal than nuclear.

  7. Speculawyer says:

    Nice to see a Utility pimping EVs! And not just EVs, EVs + their wind power!

  8. Joe Friday, the Fact Guy says:

    If the comments here are accurate that MN generates half of its electricity from coal, then a BEV emit about 1/3 less CO2 per mile driven than an ICEV.

    I am closely familiar with the details and could deconstruct the inflated claim, but EV enthusiasts tend to cling as bitterly to their illusions as, say, people in Pennsylvania cling to their guns and religion (to quote a phrase), so I’m not sure there’s any point in taking the time to paw through it.

    A sure-fire way to tell that the claim is propaganda is the further claim that an EV owner who pays for electricity generated by wind would cut his CO2 emissions by 95%.

    That’s laughable on its face, given that all electrons are the same. The only intellectually respectable tally is to use the statewide mix, no matter what option anyone picks. It doesn’t take much brainpower to realize this — only integrity.

    There are numerous other logical problems with the ”analysis” presented in the article, but — again — they’re preaching to the choir.

    I can tell a snake-handling preacher in Eastern Tennessee that he’s eventually going to be bitten and that the Earth is older than 6,800 years. That, too, will go in one ear and right out the other.

  9. Vulcanalex says:

    If you control the assumptions you control the result. Not believable at all.