July 28th, 2021

The case for electric vehicles losing its charge


By Kenneth Green on July 22, 2021.

 I’m not a climate skeptic. As an environmental scientist/engineer by training, I think climate change is real. But it’s like every other environmental issue: a more-or-less routine engineering challenge, rather than a world-altering disaster justifying the fever-dreams of the radical greens.
 I am, however, an electric vehicle skeptic. Or, more broadly, I’m skeptical that electric vehicles, adopted either voluntarily or via government mandates (increasingly the norm), will do much of anything to address the risk of climate change or to significantly reduce any other environmental problem that one might point out.
 I’m solidly convinced that shifting away from the internal combustion of hydrocarbons to battery-stored electricity (generated from pretty much any source) will likely make environmental problems worse, not better.
 Along the way, the push to force EVs onto the public will come with a bunch of social injustices that will only compound the environmental challenges society faces.
 A blog post by natural resource investment firm Goehring & Rozencwajg Associates breaks the story down (from some proprietary research not available to your humble correspondent). Without getting into the weeds, the question they answer is simple: In a head-to-head comparison, are electric cars likely to produce fewer greenhouse gases per kilometre travelled than a comparable hydrocarbon-powered vehicle?
 The short answer is: No.
 Why not?
 As my doctor explains when I ask why my feet don’t work as well as other people’s feet: “It’s about the mass, dude. The mass around your waist, and the extra work your feet have to do to move it around with you.”
 With electric cars, the problem is also about the mass: it’s about the added mass of greenhouse-gas-intensive steel and battery components that electric cars need, versus the mass of greenhouse-gas-intensive materials that regular internal combustion-powered cars need to do the same thing.
 G&R observes that electric vehicle power systems are “50 per cent heavier than a similar internal combustion engine, requiring more steel and aluminum in the frame.” That means that more greenhouse gases are used to make that EV than your comparable Honda Civic – up to 20 to 50 per cent more than an internal combustion engine.
 The batteries in electric cars lose efficiency pretty much from the minute they’re manufactured, as all batteries do. G&R points out that an extended-range Tesla Model 3 “has an 82 kWh battery and consumes approximately 29 kWh per 100 miles. Assuming each charge cycle has an approximately 95 per cent round-trip efficiency and a battery can achieve 500 cycles before starting to degrade, we conclude a Model 3 can drive 134,310 miles before dramatically losing range.”
 And that’s a problem because it isn’t until the Tesla has hit that distance that it has “worked off” the extra greenhouse gas debt used to build it in the first place.
 Based on real-world performance data developed in real-world application in recent years, with the best our technology has to offer, even if every passenger car were switched to an EV tomorrow, there would be no reduction in CO2 output.
 What remains behind is not the technical question. It’s the big-picture, net-benefit question of whether forcing the replacement of internal combustion cars with electric cars really matters. And given that it’s taking the massive application of government coercion and subsidization to make that change happen, I would conclude that the answer to that big-picture question is a resounding: No.
 The verdict is in: switching to electric vehicles won’t avert climate change, which is really the only legitimate rationale that governments would have to offer for trying to force them into the transportation sector in the first place.
Regular old internal combustion engine technology has already abated the conventional air pollution problems of the past, so that excuse is dead.
 It’s time to get government fingers off the steering wheels of our automotive sector and let people choose the transportation pathway they feel is best for their lives, not for the lives of would-be green crusaders living in electric dreams.
 The raison d’être of vehicle electrification has lost its charge.
 Kenneth Green is a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
© Troy Media

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Southern Albertan

Well, when we were in Amsterdam two years ago, the number of vehicles parked at plugin stations on the streets was impressive. The switch to EVs in Norway, literally happened, seemingly, overnight. I don’t think the ability of the human race to adapt and invent new energies should ever be underestimated. These other global economies will be basing themselves on renewable energy. Will Canada fall behind?

Seth Anthony

What does any of that have to do with the arguments the author presented?

Citi Zen

Electric cars are not a good fit for Canada. The need to periodically heat the car uses approximately half of the energy stored in the battery, thus significantly reducing your driving range.
But they work great in warmer climates, such as California.

Seth Anthony

Range loss due to heating and cooling isn’t a big issue for 99% of the population. Drive it in the day, and plug it in at home in the night. Heck, for most, it wouldn’t even have to be charged every day even when you take into account the heating and cooling range loss. Reason being, the average person drives 40 km a day, and the average EV range is 10X that at 400 km.

Last edited 5 days ago by Seth Anthony
Socrates

Kenneth Green makes a lot of good points. Here is one more that re- enforces his conclusions:
Every time we convert energy from one form to another we loose some. When we burn fossil fuels to produce electricity we loose about 60% to 70% of the energy in the fossil fuels and end up with an average of about 35% in electrical energy. If instead we burn that fossil fuel in an internal combustion engine we get a 80% to 90% of the energy for propulsion.
Here in Alberta we produce electricity mainly using fossil fuels.
This means that a car with an internal combustion engine burns 1 liter of gasoline every 10 km, an electric car burns 2.5 liters of gasoline equivalent to charge the batteries for a 10 km ride.
Again this means that EV drivers emit 2.5 times the CO2 to the atmosphere thinking that they save the planet, and still believe that human beings are an intelligent species.

byrnejm

This is such a stupid uninformed article. Recycling old myths. A realistic perspective is provided by several international agencies. The international Council on clean transportation published a report called a global comparison of lifecycle greenhouse gas omissions of combustion engine and electric passenger cars. They provide the real science and engineering; not distortions and misinformation. If you want more good science, go to the website for the Union of concerned scientists. They have a number of articles explaining why electric vehicles are so much better than internal combustion vehicles. This writer is from a climate science denial institute funded in part by the Heartland Institute and other groups that are part of the fossil fuel climate science denial program.

TonyPargeter

We don’t need armchair scientists to second guess actual scientists; they already do it themselves as a matter of course; it’s the essence of the scientific method after all. So unless you’re a bona fide scientist, STFU.

buckwheat

And what are you? Telling others to STFU says more about you than most care to know.

Socrates

byrnejm, are you prepared for a public debate of this issue and earn my $1,000 bet? We can have some real scientists to moderate.



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