It is not enough to debunk lies about electric cars once. We often have to repeat them so much that it seems people will finally learn. Yet, the same arguments keep coming back, as Colin McKerracher – from BloombergNEF – pointed out in a recent tweet. Mark Linthicum was probably tired of that when he created the animation above. Its mission is massive: to spread the truth about EVs. And we will need your help to get there, as we’ll explain.
This is an open-source animation. Its first voice-over was created by Robert Llewellyn, from Fully Charged, but the idea is that this is just the beginning. The animation deserves to be voiced-over in all languages possible and reach all publics to present the data Linthicum carefully gathered to prove how wrong it is to label EVs as dirty vehicles depending on how the electricity they need is produced.
T&E (Transport & Environment) recently presented how much cleaner EVs can be due to battery recycling. In that study, the organization mentioned that even in Poland – a country that relies heavily on coal – electric cars emit 22 percent less CO2 than the cleanest combustion-engined vehicles. What the video adds to that is a calculation of how much they really emit.
Wasting 70 percent of the energy contained in fossil fuels is not the only issue with combustion engines. Gasoline or diesel production also wastes a lot of energy, either in the form of electricity or fuel.
If the oil is pumped out of the ground with pump jacks, a single one of them can demand 9,960 kWh of electricity per month. That much energy can power a Tesla Model 3 for 34,860 miles, or almost three years if you consider Americans drive on average 13,474 miles, according to PolicyAdvice.
The video states that there are 435,000 pump jacks all over the US. In a month, they demand 4.3 TWh of energy a month. That would be enough to power 15,164,100 electric cars in the same period. That’s about what the US sells in new cars every year. In other words, using the energy that goes to pump jacks, all new cars in the US could be electric in a given year.
Crude oil also comes from offshore oil rigs, which use diesel generators to pump it out of the ground. According to Ipieca (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association), they would use 20 to 30 cubic meters of diesel per day.
That’s equivalent to 20,000 to 30,000 liters of the fuel – or the metric tons the voice-over states. One liter of diesel weighs about 0.86 kg, which would mean that 30,000 liters of diesel weigh 25.8 metric tons.
In terms of energy, that’s 300 MWh, which implies a single day of operation in an offshore oil rig could power a Model 3 for 85,714 miles or 6.4 years. There are 1,470 offshore oil rigs in the world, which consequently spend 13.23 TWh per month.
You’ll see the video mentions 1.3 TWh per month. We have contacted Linthicum to check if he will correct that and he has already added a correction to the video description. Luckily, that’s a mistake that proves his point even more.
If you sum that up with the 4.3 TWh from pump jacks, all that energy could keep almost 61.5 million electric cars running for 30 days instead of powering “only” 19.5 million EVs in one month. With the improved efficiency of the 2021 Model 3, Linthicum believes 70,250,400 cars could be powered by that amount of energy. He plans to correct the video soon.
Remember that the pump jacks and offshore oil rigs only take crude oil out of the ground. It will still have to be transported and refined. The video does not mention how much energy is spent in neither of these two processes and concentrates on how dirty transporting and refining can be.
What the video tells us is that the world refines 100 million barrels of crude oil per day. These barrels represent 15.9 billion liters or 4.2 billion gallons of oil. They have to be heated to 800ºF (427ºC) to obtain gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products. That demands a massive amount of energy. If you can help us calculate how much, that will be very welcome.
When it comes to showing the pollution generated by all this, the video presents that in a way that even climate change deniers should be able to understand. Offshore drilling rigs spill oil and can cause horrible environmental disasters, such as the one with Deepwater Horizon made evident more than ten years ago.
The pollution risks continue when oil cargo ships or oil pipelines take the oil from the rigs to the refineries, at the refineries themselves, and when trucks take all the fuels to fuel stations. All that for combustion-engined vehicles to burn that and waste so much energy in the process, as we have already written.
Imagine if all the energy used to make diesel or gasoline was directly applied to electric cars. Suppose all the money invested in making oil drilling rigs, pump jacks, oil pipelines, oil tankers, etc., was put into clean energy generation. Multiple lives would have been spared from respiratory issues.
When anybody comes up with the usual fallacies that EVs can be dirtier than ICE cars, show them this video. Share it as much as you can. If you can translate it to your language, talk to Linthicum first. He'll ask you to agree to some terms to add value to the video – such as inserting local context, for example – and you may go ahead. The author is proud that translations in German (more than one), French, Dutch, and Finnish are already out there.
You may still hear that electric cars are transported by trains or trucks that use oil from people that have no clue transportation was made by horses while trucks and trains were yet to be invented. We’ll soon have electric trucks, and electric trains are already there. Just like them, there will be a day in which people will listen to all the lies as what they really are: a ridiculous attempt to prevent progress.