Tuesday, 14 June 2011

'Face it fossil boys, the arguments don’t stack up.'

This is so good I will just reprint the article by Robert Llewellyn in full. He is commenting on a report released today by the UK Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

Electric Cars Not As Green As We've Been Told??

"There are stories that occasionally emerge on the web, they are picked up and spread like wildfire and then disappear just as fast.
They can be about anything, celebrity phone hacking, torture of ‘insurgents’ by British soldiers, or how electric cars are really dirtier than an old diesel truck.
Wait, hang on, what was the last one?
Oh yeah, according to a ‘study’ by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, electric cars are filthy polluting nightmares that will choke and kill the planet in 2 weeks. You can read the shocking report here.
Trouble is, that is exactly not what it is saying, it’s not what the people who wrote it meant to say, but it is exactly what the people who are spreading the story are desperate to ‘prove’ it said. The many 100's of blogs who've endlessly harped on about this non-story never provide links to the original source, they just call it that, ‘a source.’
I have seen maybe 5,000 tweets today with links to various ultra right wing blogs, the tweets all say ‘ELECTRIC CARS: Not so green after all?… and there’s yet another vague re-hashing of the non-story.
 There’s me stupidly thinking that electric cars were just a rather exciting alternative to the now very outdated and stagnant automotive norm. But no, they are clearly seen as a direct assault on the decent tax paying people's of the world, or to describe them another way, the neo conservative lunatic fringe in America.
What the bloggers claim the report states is that the amount of Co2 released during the manufacturing of said electric vehicles far outweighs anything that is produced by building and driving a traditional car. 
Except the actual report doesn’t say that at all. It is a discussion paper about how important it is to come to realistic, peer reviewed figures for the whole of life carbon output of a vehicle so we have some genuine ways of comparing them.
I quote: "
Ricardo Chief Technology & Innovation Officer and Chairman of the LowCVP, Prof. Neville Jackson, said “There is an emerging consensus that we need to move towards a more holistic analysis of whole life CO2 emissions in order to make more informed and better long term decisions on future technologies."
Right on Professor, boy do we need to do that.
It very clearly states that unless we start using composite materials for things like the chassis of a car, and low carbon electricity production for the power to move it, then the reductions in Co2 from using electric vehicles will not be as great as they should be.
They aren’t saying that electric cars produce more Co2, they are saying, quite clearly that they produce much less.
That’s what it’s all about. A more efficient way of using energy that is not dependent on a supply that has terrible environmental and geopolitical consequences.
It says in very clear type ‘estimated lifecycle emissions,’ which basically means, ‘we don’t know any true figures yet so we’ll have a rough guess.’
Here are my ‘estimated lifecycle emissions’ which will of course include the Co2 costs of exploration, drilling, transporting, refining and storing trillions of heavy gallons of finite fossil fuel before burning them in a complex, energy wasting, steam age lump of steel we call an internal combustion engine.
They will also include (for the electric vehicle) the constantly reducing amounts of CO2 being released from the electricity generating industry, which now includes the roof I'm sitting under.
Robert's Estimated Lifecycle Emissions
Gas car                                               CO2 released  over 150,000 km
Manufacture                                              5.6 tonnes
Estimated lifecycle emissions                    48 tonnes
Total                                                        53.6 tonnes                                                     
Electric Car
Manufacture                                             7.2 tonnes
Estimated lifecycle emissions                   15 tonnes
Total                                                         22.2 tonnes
Way less than half, and I'm being generous to the fossil burner. The figures for electric vehicles will only go down as they are produced in greater numbers and therefore more efficiently. The figures for EV's will also go down as the grid is cleaned up, whcih we've got to do anyway, regardless of which damn cars we drive. The figures for fossil burners will at best stay the same, the cost of running them, both economic and human, will go up and up.
These figures are just as valid and based on just as much ‘fact’ as the figures thrown out by the Low Carbon Vehicle partnership, who are, for your added information, mainly funded by the automotive industry, who mainly make cars that burn fossils. I'm just saying.
Currently my car is getting 80% of its ‘fuel’ from a zero carbon source. And don’t start whining on about the carbon released in the manufacture without balancing that with the carbon released in the refinery, by the ship moving the wretched sweet crude from Arabia or South America.
Face it fossil boys, the arguments don’t stack up.
When we have truly valid, peer reviewed figures for the actual carbon footprint of a gallon of fuel before it leaves the pump at the gas/petrol station, i.e. the amount of energy used and C02 released to refine it and get it there, none of these stories have any credibility.
I'll go one further, these arguments are based on a product we should be using to create sustainable power. It’s called bullshit."