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Reply #10


Response to Rain Mcloud (Reply #9)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:33 AM

10. It's complicated.

Argonne National Laboratories, through a grant from the DOE, has developed a macro-driven Excel spreadsheet called the GREET model (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation). Anyone can download it here:

http://greet.es.anl.gov/

You can get into a silly level of detail, but just playing with it for awhile gives you a pretty good feel for comparing total energy ("well-to-wheels") required to get a hypothetical car to go one mile. That's whether that energy comes from gasoline, nuclear electricity, coal electricity, and pretty much any combination. Of course it can't incorporate intangibles like national security which you bring up, and those are entirely valid considerations.

There was an article a few weeks ago here that showed why driving an EV in West Virginia, in 2012, is worse for the environment than driving a gasoline car. It raised a lot of hackles, but it's true (electricity in WV is almost exclusively generated from coal). As you know, those studies need a big-ass asterisk next to them - because coal is on its way out, because the car will be around for a long time, because the car may end up in an area where hydro is the main source of energy, etc.

I've done calculations on my electric cars (I have two of them) and the cleaner one, the Nissan Leaf, contributes about half as much CO2 to the atmosphere as an equivalent gasoline-burning car. That's living in CA with an energy mix that still includes roughly half coal. Unlike their internal combustion equivalents, both will get "cleaner" as they age and the generation mix improves.

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