Glenn Doty

Glenn Doty
Contributor since: 2012
Company: Doty WindFuels
First of all, you're welcome.
Thank you for asking, rather than telling people that you understand something when you do not... then going off on some rant about a subject you don't understand (something that is far more common when discussing anthropogenic global warming -AGW).
Second, it must be pointed out that you are doing a disservice to the incredible research and progress that has been done in the past 50 years when you allude to "maybe 100 years of accurate measurement". Ice core studies, ocean floor composition studies, etc... have provided astounding detail of climate trends dating back hundreds of millions of years, and have high accuracy for thousands of years. We know far more than "a hundred years" worth of data. In some cases - such as the Milankovitch cycles - we can very accurately model the behavior of the planet for the past several billion years. Climate is many orders of magnitude more complex, so we cannot do nearly so much or so well, but we have a tremendous amount of data at our disposal... We know a lot, and we understand a lot.
Third, the theory (correctly defined, a theory is a summation of all known data concerning a specific field of study) of AGW lies in physics and chemistry, not based on observation. It's a simple energy balance equation:
The Earth/atmosphere is an isolated body. It receives energy from the sun (and produces an insignificant amount of energy from nuclear fission in the core). Some of the solar energy is reflected, while some of the energy is absorbed. At the same time... we are constantly emitting energy into space as a blackbody radiator. The frequency of the energy we are emitting lies predominately in bandwidths that can be absorbed by H2O, CO2, CH4, CFC's, NOX, and other GHG's. If we increase the concentration of those gasses, then some of our emitted radiation will be re-absorbed, and we will be in a state of energy imbalance. Energy imbalances result in a change of the energy state of the body in question.
This is not subject to dispute. If we are receiving more energy from the sun (and the tiny amount of energy from core activity) than we are net radiating, then the body's energy state will increase. As the energy state increases, the body will emit far more blackbody radiation, so even though some of portion will be re-absorbed/re-conducted back into the body, enough radiation will escape that we once again achieve energy balance.
Increasing CO2, CH4, or other gasses will therefore increase temperatures, which will cause more H2O in the upper atmosphere, further increasing temperatures... until a new balance is achieved.
This is fact. There's nothing to dispute here, there are no questions as to whether this will happen. It is as certain as the fact the sun will rise in the East tomorrow. The difficulty is trying to figure out the rate of change in the energy state of the planet, and the nature of the change in the energy state of the planet, and the ultimate extent to which the energy state must change before a new balance is achieved.
But no-one extrapolated observed climate trends and then postulated that the Earth will warm. In the 1800's it was noted that we were increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere... and as a result we UNDERSTOOD that the Earth MUST warm. That is the basis of the science.
Fair enough.
I hope to find time to start a series on that eventually. We'll see.
I'll try to check in more often, but it's been total chaos.
I hope all has been well with you.
Hi John,
It's been a busy summer... so I haven't had time to play.
I wanted to say that I appreciated the tone in this article. You are - of course - correct in pointing out that little to nothing is accomplished by switching to electric cars in terms of climate change mitigation (especially in America), and it costs a fortune.
The one thing I wish you would have brushed up on is the relative economics of funding 15 vanity cars vs building a wind turbine or improving efficiency or other much better purchases. The 15 Tesla's MIGHT - in extremely rare circumstances - result in a maximum mitigation of ~300 tons-CO2 over the course of their life. A 1.5 MW wind turbine put up in a class 4 wind zone would abate ~3500 tons-CO2 every year for 40 years. So there's a ~470-fold difference in the effectiveness in mitigating climate change between the best-case for the ridiculous Tesla-S vs a standard wind turbine...
Many investments in efficiency improvement would show far greater advantage than the wind turbines. It's clear that those of us who ACTUALLY care about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) would have no cause to support the funneling of funds to electric vehicles.
If you are actually interested in the science, the reason for the ~20,000 year climate cycle is because the Earth's orbit has a slight "wobble". The axial tilt gradually shifts from ~22 degrees to ~24 degrees, and that tilt gradually rotates - so that the winter and summer solstices of the Northern and Southern hemispheres can correspond to the points in the Earths orbit where the Earth is closest to or farthest from the sun (perihelion and aphelion)...
These wobbles of the Earths orbit lead to extensive periods where the the Northern hemisphere (where most of the land mass is) is subjected to longer durations of winter corresponding to cooler summers (summer is at aphelion), so ice starts building up in the Northern latitude, and carbon starts becoming sequestered under the growing permafrost... This is a period of thousands of years, but as the carbon sequestration continues, the carbon levels in the atmosphere drop, cooling the planet, allowing the ice to slowly trend south, engulfing the conifers that had been shedding needles into the permafrost for hundreds of years... and creating new regions of permafrost with more carbon sequestration...
This continues until the Earth wobbles back to a point where the northern hemisphere is getting longer, hotter summers... After a few thousand years of continual longer, hotter summers in the North, the permafrost starts to thaw, releasing billions of tons of stored carbon, which starts heating things up and thawing more permafrost - releasing more carbon. etc... - until the winters are long and the summers are cool, and the cycle starts reversing itself again.
Google "Milankovitch cycle" if you want to know more.
Your linked article uses assumptions of grid-mix... which basically means that the authors of said study are imagining that more rain will fall and more wind will blow, and Plank's constant will shift within nuclear reactor cores as a direct result of plugging in an EV (basically the authors of the study in question are showing deliberate manipulation/extreme perversion of facts in order to make the numbers work for them, but the numbers that they use are bogus).
Your setup is not burning fossil fuels, other than the embodied carbon of the setup... But had you chosen to tie into the grid you probably would have abated more carbon overall, as you would have lowered the fossil generation during periods of your home's overproduction and taken power during periods of zero production; and the net effect would be less fossil generation overall... (from which point the EV would then increase that generation)... By choosing the truly separated option, you reduced the potential impact of your home's system, but created a micro-grid that has spare renewable capacity, and by so doing eliminated the carbon consequence of the EV.
Regardless, you seem to have a truly carbon free setup. Congratulations.
I don't understand the hydrogen... Are you just using an electrolyzer/fuel cell cycle as an alternative battery? The fluid reservoir has some uses that I could imagine... but in a simple home what do you need hydrogen for?
Anyway, I will acknowledge that the setup you describe does indeed sound like it's carbon neutral, and you've devised a setup that renders your EV carbon neutral. Seeing as you've done this... you should recognize how rare such a system is.
If your isolated residence has a micro-wind setup then in your case you have wind power, the fact that you cited a hydrogen generator means you have ample money and are less concerned with cost effectiveness.
As for the wind on the grid in upstate NY... No. There's a little wind on the grid (possibly ~5% of the upstate's power), but mostly the renewable power source is hydropower up there. The hydropower works as balance power for the wind and insures that there's no spare capacity whatsoever. Rainfall determines how much hydropower there is (no spare capacity, it's all used), and natural gas makes up the majority of the rest of the supply (plenty of spare capacity).
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you have a completely grid separated system then I hope you live in an extreme remote environment... Otherwise you wasted a lot of money on your battery.
I assumed that you meant "grid neutral" rather than non-grid tied (something like 90% of the time people who produce their own renewable energy make such a mistake).
If you actually are completely separated from the grid, then any day you don't plug in your additional demand load the extra energy is wasted, I assume you just run any additional energy through a resistor bank or something?
As far as wind in upstate NY goes... There is wind. There is NOT a lot of wind. NY generates >3% of its energy from wind, and once again we're talking about a grid-tied model, which caused you so much angst to begin with. I assure you that I am VERY familiar with the growth and distribution of wind power, it's rather important to me.
There is no "stretching it" here. In order to understand something you build a model and test it. That's basic for anyone with even a rudimentary interest in engineering.
So we build a model of your system: You state your place is renewable powered. I would assume you must be purchasing "renewable energy" from the grid (NY would be a very expensive place to power your house by solar). When you purchase "renewable energy" from the grid, there is no actual gateway that differentiates between renewable-sourced and fossil-sourced electron impulses... You're just giving the power company a little more money to purchase renewable energy generators as a form of carbon offset. This is good, I've got no problem with it, I even practice it... But it's just a carbon offset system.
So, in working with our model, where we have generators and demand loads, when a load suddenly goes offline, what happens? Clearly some generators have to tamp back some of their generation. Would it be the renewable generators (in your neck of the woods this is basically all hydropower, so tamping that back would be represented by allowing water to bypass the turbines, or spilling the water), or fossil generators?
If the fossil generators are tamped back when your car is no longer adding a demand load to the system, what is ramped up when your car begins adding a demand load to the system again?
Think about it. (I'm not guessing here, and I'm not wrong.)
I don't "miss" these statements, I merely understand them to be incorrect.
To illustrate this fact... go through this exercise with me:
Imagine your EV gets into an accident and goes to the body shop for a week or so... What do you think happens regarding the electron impulses that you currently designate to your car?
Answer: They are designated elsewhere. The net amount of renewable energy on the grid is constant, because there is near 100% utilization of renewable resources (outside of the West Texas hub, and some regions of OK, IA, ND, SD, MN, NE, and KS)... So taking your car offline for a few days doesn't reduce the amount of renewable energy on the grid... yet the amount of energy on the grid will reduce, as there's no longer the same amount of demand.
So what is tamped back when you aren't charging your car? Fossil generation sources.
What then is ramped back up when you plug your car back in? Fossil generation sources.
I'm not interested - in this discussion - in whether you offset your carbon. I applaud you for it, but that's not of interest here. The fact you offset your carbon doesn't change the nature of the portions of your lifestyle that generate carbon.
The interesting thing about Obamacare is the fight over "administrative burden" - the combination of profit and overhead that the insurance companies gain from shuffling people's money around. Obamacare capped large business plans at 15% administrative burden, and small business plans at 20%... The insurance companies went nuts.
Medicare, on the other hand, has never had more than 2.5% administrative burden.
That's the most high-profile case, but there are hundreds of instances where government is more effective and more efficient than the private industries.
There are, of course, hundreds of cases where the reverse is true as well.
I can absolutely state with absolute certainty that if someone makes an absolute statement concerning all government policy, that statement is going to be wrong.
Fair enough - I'll amend that to taxpayers lose money. But Government provides many useful services. There are some elements within government that are clearly inefficient due to cronyism or incompetence, but in many other places government is more efficient than private industry, and there are many critical services that government provides which I wouldn't like to do without.
The libertarian mentality of "all government is bad government" is not helpful. Conservatives will never cede ground on the necessity of providing a common defense or providing justice and order; while liberals (such as myself) will never cede ground on the necessity of providing opportunities for good education for all, common-use infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, power grids, water, sewage, etc...), and some regulation in which protection is offered to consumers and workers from the worst excesses of private business overreach.
It would be better to analyze the services that government provides and seek ways to make them more efficient or effective - proving real suggestions that would appeal to the liberal or conservative mentalities that seek to ensure that government provides those services - rather than just saying "GOVERNMENT IS BAD". We won't let go of most of the services government provides... what we need to do is work on making them more efficient and more effective.
My arguments stem from a foundation of facts and familiarity that typically exceed the foundation of whoever I'm debating with, so a forward-moving argument would in that sense often move towards "my direction". I know what I'm talking about, and in prior discussions I myself have moved towards the more rational argument over a period of more than a decade of study and more than half a decade of focused work. So I am less often on the wrong side of an argument.
When I do find myself in the wrong, I MOVE FORWARD. It's what I expect of anyone who I believe is worth discussing anything with.
Note my long-standing discussions with JRP3 have dated several years, and I still enjoy debating him. The fact that one must cede ground when they are wrong is crucial to having an adult dialogue - something that is sadly lacking in most political discussions.
But you don't get to ignore a valid argument just because you don't like it.. and if you digress into ad hominum or tangential straw-man argumentation to distract the discussion it gets tiresome quickly.
Regarding a 500 mi race.
What you have to understand is that the distance the battery can go is inversely proportional to how much power the motor is drawing.
If you try to drive a Tesla at top speed, the 85 kWh battery will be drained completely in 23 minutes (simple math - 225 kW max power, 130 mph max speed, no governor on the speed).
The battery pack is a 550 kg monstrosity that is plugged into a high-voltage, high amperage circuit. The danger inherent in trying to fast-swap such a thing every 50 miles is ludicrous, and the idea that it could be done in 12-14 seconds is equally ludicrous.
Also ludicrous is the idea that a vehicle that must stop more often then the pack can still keep up with the pack. It just doesn't work that way. That would require handling the corners at a far higher speed than the rest of the pack... the Indy cars are not limited by power as they round the corners, they're limited by physics... they do not have sufficient coefficient of friction to corner faster than they do in their extremely lightweight vehicles. Trying to do the same in a 2.5 ton lumbering monstrosity is a nice way to meet a wall.
An EV will simply never be able to compete in anything other than a drag race.
The only way that your "closed room" example is valid is if the electric generator is also enclosed in your room... as you say - the atmosphere is a closed room. You aren't getting any cool points by having the coal power plant down the road emit your pollution instead of having it expelled out of your tailpipe. It's all pollution going into the same atmosphere.
In defense of Al Gore:
Gore has always offset his own footprint. The offsetting idea seems a little hokey at first, but once you really break it down you realize that it works. For example, I probably emit close to ~20 tons of CO2/year. I don't live in a region that has good wind, nor good sun. For me to set up solar or try to put a wind turbine in my yard would be a perfect way to waste money and bury me in debt... But I can invest in wind projects in the Midwest, which will offset far more than my 20 tons-CO2/year... The net impact on the planet is just as good as it would be if I fanatically worked to eliminate my own pollution, but it works out to me spending less than 1/4 as much. The planet probably doesn't care how I work to reduce carbon emissions... only that carbon emissions (and other toxic emissions) are reduced.
Gore doesn't use a bicycle-powered oven or anything, but he invests heavily in large scale renewable projects. He's doing more good than harm.
Sorry I missed this, it got lost in the very long thread about hydrogen fuel cells - which I believe we agree are without merit (I don't spend much time on them because government has largely stopped investing in them... If private industry wishes to waste it's money that's not my business - just as I would not consider it my business if a private person wished to buy a Tesla... It's only when government comes in with subsidies and special privileges that I get concerned... or infuriated).
As for your suggested interpretation. I feel you're cheating the numbers here, but you feel I'm cheating the numbers here... So fairness probably will find some result that lies in the middle. Perhaps there will be a more exhaustive study of the Tesla pack specifically so we can leave the speculation to rest.
By your result, we would get somewhere ~9 - 10 tons-CO2 - depending on the speculated mass balance in the 197 kg remainder - above and beyond the embodied carbon for a regular car. By my method - equally valid using the same incomplete data set - we get 17 tons...
So let's call it a truce and say the figure is somewhere between 9 and 17 tons above and beyond a regular ICE vehicle... and table this until more exhaustive data is made available.
I've found that to be true of very few of them.
Most environmentalists are simply honest people who want a better world and are trying to find a way to bring that about. But within every group there are a few who are - for lack of a better description - a$$holes.
I tend to respond politely when people ask questions or politely bring up honest challenges or disagreements; I respond aggressively when people aggressively challenge a stance that I have, etc... But I respect them as long as one thing remains true:
The conversation moves forward.
In very few cases, a person will knowingly repeat a complete lie long after that lie has been refuted; and he/she (usually he) simply pretends the earlier discussion didn't happen and continues to assert what he/she (usually he) knows is not true. In very few other cases the person will simply be extremely nasty and not respond in a form of logical discussion, but simply repeat earlier attacks in the way one would expect from a child's toy: 5 possible phrases could result from hitting the button, regardless of what you say, one of those 5 phrases is randomly repeated...
But I've had just as many encounters with such people when debating climate change against the denialists as I do when debating the functioning of the electric grid with EV zealots.
It's not because they're environmentalists (I'm an environmentalists), it's because they are what they are. For what it's worth, I've had a great deal of fun debating with most of the people in this forum... and even found out (to my dismay) that I was the a$$hole in a conversation with oldpartsnrust, as I had misread his name and not noticed I was calling him the wrong name.
Don't hate on "greenies", most of us are worthy of respect. Reserve your spleen for those who earn it, regardless of where they fall in any given political affiliation.
It would be nice if you didn't choose to misrepresent what I have and have not stated. There has never once been a suggestion on my part that the net efficiency of WindFuels consumed by an ICE rivals the end-use efficiency of an electric motor. That would be absurd, and has not been suggested.
What is suggested, and in fact stated, is that in all current and near-term foreseen applications the EV uses almost exclusively fossil power - in most cases this is coal-sourced. WindFuels is designed to used wind-sourced power. That's one difference.
The more significant difference is the relative costs. A Ford Focus costs $15,000.
WindFuels would be profitable in most instances as long as the gasoline sold for more than ~$1.80/gallon, so in the present market price of $3.20/gallon it would do fine. At $3.20/gallon, the Ford Focus driver would have to pay ~$10,700 in fuel (sourced by WindFuels). The WindFuels plant would receive ~$9000 of that, ~$3000 or so of which would be profit... while most of the rest went to local taxes for infrastructure building and maintenance. That's $~26,700 for capital purchase and fuel for the first 100,000 miles, providing ~$1500 in taxes for infrastructure.
For the Ford Focus EV, on the other hand, the cost is ~$38,000 up-front, of which the Federal government is burdened $7500. Then fuel costs for the first ~100,000 miles would be ~$3200. So fuel plus capital costs would be ~$41,200; of which $7500 is REMOVED from tax coffers that could have gone for infrastructure...
Considering the Ford Focus EV is running on coal, and the WindFuels option would be carbon neutral... The dollars and sense work out to the following:
WindFuels option yields +$1500 for government, , and the driver pays $26,700 total for fuel and capital;
EV option yields $-7500 for government, and the driver pays $33,700 for fuel and capital.
Government loses $9000, and driver loses $7000 ($16,000 total loss to society); all so a much greater amount of CO2 and other toxic emissions can result from the act of transporting the exact same vehicle.
A third reason that WindFuels is preferred is the fact that, of the total volume of petroleum processed in the world, gasoline makes up less than 35%. The rest of the petroleum products are needed by society, in many cases moreso. But the act of refining petroleum would yield a large volume of gasoline whether it was used or not. So if - in the unthinkably implausible future that EV advocates envision - we didn't use gasoline; we'd still have to process nearly the exact same amount of petroleum for our other needs (plastic, rubber, diesel, jet fuel, industrial chemicals, solvents, cleaners, waxes, asphalt, fertilizers, etc...). Carbon neutral synthesis of ultra-low contaminate PETROLEUM yields all of these products, and allows all of these products to be provided for society with very low emissions. Eliminating the need for gasoline still requires all of these other products which would still require similar amounts of petroleum, and merely result in large quantities of leftover gasoline - which would then have to be burned off. It sounds foolish - but that's what I think of the "vision" of eliminating the need for gasoline without dealing with the rest of the petroleum needs of our society.
Gasoline from tar sands has a life-cycle emission of ~14 kg-CO2/gallon. Diesel from tar sands rings in closer to ~16 kg-CO2/gallon.
Those are the numbers. The UPSTREAM emissions are roughly triple that of the traditional oil super-field, but the final values really aren't that far off.
Coal-sourced electricity run through an EV has far higher emissions/mile than tar-sands sourced gasoline burned in a relatively efficient ICE.
Actually, I just misread your handle. I thought I was assigning you the handle you had chosen, and was baffled when you declared I was insulting you.
Sorry about that. I cannot afford to take more than a few minutes (while a simulator is running in the background), to both read and respond... so I'm skimming here. I truly apologize for misreading your name.
I don't see why I should be pitied.
I have a bunch of people continually throwing incorrect numbers at me (some of whom I don't bother to read), and I correct those numbers if I happened to have read the post.
As for that, I seem to remember having corrected the 14% figure before. It would have been your post, if I recall correctly (11 jun, 11:11).
But as for the question: It is far more beneficial to all to use otherwise curtailed wind-sourced electricity to create fuel which can be competitively sold for regular vehicles on the road today; then it would ever be to use coal which would otherwise not be strip-mined and burned to produce electricity exclusively for absurdly priced vehicles that weigh a ton more than regular cars on the road today. This should be obvious, and I cannot imagine why it is not so.
You are rapidly getting to a point where you will have designated yourself as "waste of time", which means I don't read your posts as they do nothing but harass and annoy.
There has never been a single statement that I've made that indicates I'm anything other than a fan and advocate of carbon offsets. I've fought harder for government cap-and-trade laws than anyone in the forum, and was a very early advocate for carbon offset programs.
I just don't lie to myself and others about what carbon offsets mean concerning the activities and purchases that one has to purchase the offsets FOR.
If you continue to harrass, bully, and flood the thread with blatant lies about where I stand, then you will simply be ignored henceforth.
I don't have time to bother trying to reason with the dog humping my leg.
If you are curious, the casual nuisance of Neil earned that dubious honor a few months back, and I haven't read a post he's written since.
Further deliberate attacks and misrepresentations on your part about me or my business will be the very last post from you I'll read. It seems like a small thing, but it's what I can do, and choose to... I cannot see myself ever being small enough to go whining to the SA moderators, so I simply stop reading the garbage you choose to spew.
Again, we're talking pack, not cell. The Tesla pack has a specific energy of ~154 Wh/kg (85 kWh, 550 kg).
But the Argonne report was largely indifferent to the distinction between EV and PV installations, instead just giving broad averages. My suspicion (and I acknowledge that I do not have verification of this suspicion) is the EV packs have higher embodied energy/wh than the PV packs.
My reasoning is this: EV packs must be designed for minimal weight and volume, which means more aluminum must be relied on for non-load-bearing structure, as it offers orders of magnitude better thermal conductivity and it weighs less so long as strength is not required. So to make a lightweight, compact system, less steel and more aluminum would be required... but aluminum has ~8 times the embodied energy of steel.
So while I used a factor of ~500-fold, which is consistent with several of the systems analyzed in the Argonne Labs report, it's probable that the EV packs would have fallen on the high side of the scale - at ~650-fold.
If you really want to delve into the minutiae here, you are welcome to... but most of my estimates were made generously because I recognize I don't have the expertise to really squabble over the finer details; which means we'll have to consult some of those who do have expertise in battery manufacture in order to take this much further.
Do you truly believe that loopholes aren't intended?
You have less confidence in the competence of Congressmen (and their advisers) than even I do. That's saying quite a lot.
The Hummer subsidies are gone (thank God). That was during the time that I was so impassioned that I quit work to devote roughly 90 hours/week to political campaigning/lobbying, and we shouted about that subsidy until we couldn't speak. That subsidy no longer exists, nor does the civilian version of the Hummer or the "H2".
No-one is saying that the Tesla subsidies pollute as much as the 3.5-ton+ subsidy of the mid-2000's. But if that's all you can say to support your subsidy "Well it's not as bad as one of the worst things passed during the Bush presidency", then you have to realize that you're standing on some pretty weak advocacy.
The Hummer subsidy is gone. It's time for the Tesla subsidy to join it.
Table 2 gives a cradle-to-grave energy estimate (Ectg) ranging between 125.3 and 224 MJ/kg of battery PACK (read the report) that they were studying. Note if you wished to look at the same findings you could turn to page 35 and have the exact same studies of the exact same battery packs converted to MJ/wh.
That works out to ~1.5 - 2.35 MJ/wh, or 417 - 653 wh embodied energy/wh specific energy. I used an easy estimate of 500, as I don't know the specifics of the Panasonic cradle-to-grave system (by far the most important factors lie with the lithium mine: specifically the quality and concentration of the raw ore), and 500 lies somewhat close to the middle of the range.
As far as the improvements in battery technology go, there really hasn't been much focus other than increasing the charge cycle life. No-one is working to make a more efficient mining process, or a more efficient process of extracting the lithium from the salts... No progress has been made in making plastic, or copper, or aluminum, or steel any more efficiency. Other than machining and assembly - which is a very small portion of the overall embodied energy - there's nothing to improve in reducing the embodied energy, and no improvement has been made nor even attempted since the Argonne study.
Sorry, I overlooked that.
Here you go:
Pg 22, figure 4.
I stand corrected. Most Li-ion batteries are manufactured in China, but if these are not, then that's that. Thank you for the correction. Japan has a grid carbon intensity of ~440 kg-CO2/MWh.
The only portion of the equation that would change would be the final manufacturing/assembly step.
I assumed/guessed that would be ~15% of the energy required. That would reduce the total carbon load of the battery by ~2.3 tons-CO2. That may help a little, but it won't help a lot.
Of course, I acknowledge some of my estimates may be off with respect to the percentage of energy of each upstream step - but again the differences will not result in large changes to the overall result.
I live in the real world.
In the real world metals are mined by heavy diesel equipment.
In the real world goods are distributed by trains, boats and trucks that also all run on diesel.
In the real world chemicals and plastics are made from natural gas condensates (NGLs) at plants that are powered by natural gas.
In the real world metals are smelted by heat produced by coal furnaces (this is especially true in China, where the batteries are manufactured).
This discussion thread is not about some future world where everyone gets synthesized food and we are boldly going where no man has gone before... We live TODAY. Cars that we purchase today are made in factories today that are fueled in the exact manner that they are fueled today.
If, in some distant future, we no longer burn fossil fuels to get energy, then I will no longer be concerned about the emissions resulting from energy consumption - my opinions might change.
(I feel quite comfortable in boasting that I have almost certainly done more than anyone else in this forum to bring about a present and a future that has more renewable and nuclear energy than would otherwise be the case.)
But right now this is where we are. We have to deal with that, not tell ourselves stories of where we might be if every decision henceforth is made according to what we would prefer.
On the question of carbon offsets. I'm a huge fan of the principle... but carbon offsets do not change the environmental profile of the activity or purchase that you are offsetting. Otherwise, a person could claim their stretched Hummer was a "carbon neutral environmentally friendly" purchase, because they invested heavily in a wind farm... Does that mean we should have taxpayers foot 10% of the bill for every stretched HumV because there's a possibility that the purchaser MIGHT choose to spend money elsewhere to offset their carbon load? Does that make any sense at all?
4. I hadn't done this on the Tesla S. I had only done this before with the Leaf... and then I extrapolated forward to make a very conservative guess for the Tesla. So, since you called me on it, we'll work this out for the Tesla S.
It takes roughly ~500 times as much energy to make a Li-ion battery pack as the pack can store (thank you Argonne Lab). So a battery pack that is 1 kWh would require roughly 500 kWh of upstream energy to make. Included in this is the energy used to mine and separate the metals, distribute them, extract/smelt/alloy them, make plastics and chemicals, and then manufacture/assemble the pack.
I don't know the actual breakdown, so I'm assuming roughly 25% for mining and base separations (petroleum), 5% in distribution of materials, (petroleum), 40% heat for extraction/smelting/al... (coal), 15% for plastics and chemicals (natural gas), and 15% for manufacturing/assembly (electricity - Chinese grid mix).
(Please note these numbers are guesses on my part)
For an 85 kWh battery pack, we then have 42.5 MWh of embodied energy. That energy would - based on my guesses - comprise of 12.75 MWh of refined petroleum products, 17 MWh of coal, 6.38 MWh of NG, and 6.38 MWh of Chinese electricity.
For the petroleum, it's pretty easy. Assuming ~14 kg-CO2/gallon of diesel, and ~37 kWh/gallon, then we'll see ~4.8 tons of CO2 from the petroleum's share of the battery manufacture. (This obviously includes all upstream emissions from drilling, pumping, piping, filtering, refining, and distributing).
For coal, if we assume ~330 kg-CO2/MWh of thermal energy, then 17 MWh of coal would result in another ~5.6 tons of CO2. (Of course, this ignores the CO2 release from mountaintop removal, distribution, and pulverization of coal, which would likely be another ton of CO2).
For the NG, we will be generous and assume no leaks in the system. For every MWh of natural gas we see ~180 kg of CO2, so the NG portion of CO2 release here is ~1.1 ton CO2. (If you factor in upstream drilling, piping, scrubbing, and separating, you get another ~.2 tons or so).
Finally, Chinese electricity has a carbon intensity of ~800 kg-CO2/MWh, so this portion is another 5.1 tons-CO2. (again this doesn't cover the mining, distribution, or pulverization of the coal).
The embodied carbon in steel is always given with an assumption of average recycled content, and is listed at ~1.4 kg-CO2/kg-steel. The idea of the EV is specifically selecting a vehicle that has MORE steel than normal, so I don't know that it's fair to include recycled steel into the equation, but that's a fight for another day... If we assume 300 kg more steel at 1.4 kg/kg, then we add another 0.4 tons-CO2.
So, the battery and the increased steel mass would account for an embodied carbon of ~17 tons steel (before considering upstream emissions for coal and NG), before considering the rest of the vehicle.
The average straight ICE vehicle has an embodied carbon load of ~5-7 tons (a Prius has an embodied carbon load of just under 9 tons). So just the battery pack and additional frame support for the Tesla S triples the embodied carbon of an ICE. Once the rest of the car is added in, there will be more than 21 tons of embodied CO2 in the Tesla S, as opposed to 5-7 tons in a straight ICE and 9-11 tons in a hybrid car.
5. I've spent my life advocating for more money to renewable energy. As it stands, a very large plurality of the money is being wasted on corn ethanol (a program I once supported - when we were paying farmers to leave their land fallow - and now oppose since we're plowing under seemingly all agriculture to force out more and more corn for ethanol). I've paid my dues, some years quitting work entirely to get paid next to nothing in order to work 90 hours a week on lobbying/grassroots campaigning efforts for various efforts to fight global warming. It doesn't help, we're likely to see the amount spent drop over the next 3 years rather than increase.
One of the reasons we're losing the battle is because we are spending money so STUPIDLY. When the opposition comes at you saying that it's all kickbacks and corruption, and bring up monstrously stupid "investments" like algae-oil or hydrogen fuel cell cars (or subsidies for rich people to buy luxury cars that pollute more than half the new cars on the road).... it's hard to defend the programs. If WE don't care about actually fighting global warming, and instead just back whatever nonsense "neat" gadget that caught our fancy... then how do we successfully argue to spend more money? We can't. We lose... and funding is further slashed.
If we went for the low-hanging fruit. Seriously funded projects that delivered the most environmental "bang for your buck", we might be able to raise the amount spent.
I don't see people rushing to do that here.
I thought you were in California. I don't know why I had thought that... but I was certain you were in California.
We need funding.
The biggest problem with having the DOE present as a first-round investor in technology is it conditions venture investors to wait for the DOE to do the early pilot-level investments. Then the venture capital groups come in once the engineering risks are largely eliminated. That's a great deal for the venture capitalist (sort of), but if you don't have the blessings of the DOE, then you have trouble recruiting investment.
The DOE apportions grants based on its programs, and the needs/desires/goals of the program managers. So they release "funding opportunity announcements", and you can apply for grants based on how well you fit those FOA's. There's no "renewable oil synthesis" program, and the program manager in the traditional oil world wants a better field exploration technique - that's what he's funding... and the hydrogen fuel cell program manager (still) is praying for a miracle 2-order-of-magnitude cost reduction in a fuel cell, so they have dozens of FOA's trying different sputtering techniques or whatever the latest hype might be... Algae program wastes money on algae related stuff, etc... But no-one is going to go outside of their program and offer an FOA to a new technology (one that has not been around since the 70's), and the venture capitalists all say they are excited about coming onto the team once we have our pilot plan up and running, but they don't fund energy ventures at the bench scale.
catch 22.
Eventually someone will fund us, and we'll be the biggest IPO this century. Until then we're limping along with funding from the profits off of our small scientific instrumentation business, and making some progress in the lab.