The only place owning an EV is actually environmentally friendly in North America is Quebec since 95% is generated by Hydro.
There are a few things in play here:
1. Big power plants are WAY more efficient than wherever tiny thing you have under the hood, I don't care if it is a V8.
2. Power plants are usually located away from population centers. This means less health problems in the population.
3. Once you replace the power plants, the ENTIRE CAR FLEET gets an automatic update. It is easier to replace power plants, than to replace hundreds of millions of cars.
4. Electric car engines are incredibly efficient.
5. All those cars idling in traffic jams are not helping anyone.
6. 30% != 100%. It does not follow that they are all "methane powered". By your own admission, 30% are.
7. You are not burning fuel trying to extract, refine and transport fuels. Electricity transportation is everywhere and doesn't require trucks or pipelines.
8. EVs don't require oil changes. This is another big pollution source that's often not remembered.
Then why not use this money to replace them. If it's so easy then the effects will be felt sooner and will be enjoyed by everyone not just people looking to buy a new car.
Coal plants (the most polluting) are shutting down and being replaced by natural gas, wind and solar simply due to cost of wind and solar dropping rapidly.
Those costs will continue to drop and economics will get even better in the (relatively near) future.
Vox often covers that topic, see e.g. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/19/164944..., https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/4/10/1721444..., https://www.vox.com/2018/5/30/17408602/solar-wind-energy-ren..., https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/5/18/1735973...
And—to your point—they get cleaner every year.
a few quotes from the pdf
"For this analysis we expected the midsize and full-size BEV to need only one lithium-ion battery pack over its lifetime." of 179,000 miles
"Excluded from the life cycle assessments are the global warming emissions from building the infrastructure (such as
factories and industrial equipment) required to do all of the processing and assembling, and the emissions from transportation of raw materials for manufacturing."
"we had limited data on the actual composition of the vehicle models"
"Comparing our results with other battery literature(. . .), the emissions (kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of battery weight) depend on the battery chemistry. These estimates are on the lower end of the spectrum for battery-production global warming emissions because they derive from process-level analyses. The alternative approach—top-down methods, which refer to how the battery production energy is assessed— results in higher estimates because the scope of the assessment is large"
and especially relevant to your point and the article you linked, which reads, "the extra emissions from making an 80-mile range EV (compared to a similar gasoline car) are about 15% higher"
from quoted report
"for this study we assumed a lifetime of 179,000 miles, both for gasoline and long-range battery-electric vehicles, based on the National Household Travel Survey (FHWA 2009) data for the first 15 years of a vehicle’s lifetime. However, we posited an exception for the 84-mile-range BEV and comparable gasoline car—that total mileage would be 135,000—75 percent of the mileage of the 265-mile-range BEV. This difference is due to “range limitations” of a car with a more modest-sized battery: its driver would likely be unwilling to drive long distances very often, given the frequent need for stopping to “fill up” "
And then there is the whole mystery meat of the supply chain that produce all of the components, which don't seemed to be very shrewdly represented if at all. There is a lot more CO2 produced than just extraction>refinement. I'm really not confident in scientists ability to gauge the resource consumption of industry.
There aren't that many clean energy options available to the end consumer right now, other than solar. You could have a wind turbine which could run day/night, but they're just not as cheap per watt, and has far fewer competitors on the market making that stuff.
If you install workplace chargers, though, you can charge at peak solar production.
But public transportation is better of course. Make it electric while you are at it.
- More than 50% of the energy source in EVs being renewable is irrelevant towards being environmentally friendly when being compared to 0% in conventional
- Renewable energy as a fraction of overall energy in California is not projected to rise in the next 5 years
- An EV using electrically from a powerplant has the same overall fuel efficiency as a conventional vehicle using fuel locally.
The first two are most assuredly false assumptions at a glance, the final one I'm not aware of. I'm not saying your conclusion is right or wrong just that I don't buy we need 100% renewable electricity for EVs to make environmental sense.
As wind generation expands with falling costs, particularly offshore, that's likely to fall significantly within the lifetime of a vehicle bought today.
Also even if the carbon emissions are the same, there is a large benefit in shifting particulate matter and NOx pollution out of cities.
Why? It shifts air pollution out of urban centers.
On top of that, natural gas burns very cleanly compared to gasoline or diesel.
You shouldn't be upset about solving several problems in parallel.
The difference is, the ICE I buy today pollutes more every year (due to wear) until it leaves service. There is no way to upgrade it or decrease its impact.
The EV I buy today might not be a lot better, but as new plants and solar come online, it pollutes less as time goes on. This will almost certainly be the case in practice.
EV is the right choice for most vehicles.
A quick check on the DOE website shows 95% of power generated in Washington is 0 CO2. And we export it to neighboring states.
Not to mention, power generation has benefits of scale. One stationary 10,000hp engine is more efficient than 10,000 mobile 1hp engines.
Even if I buy the fact that your EV car is only equally efficient, you are changing distributed pollution of cars which is very difficult to mitigate into point source pollution at the production plant which is far easier to mitigate.
In addition, the moment your car is in stop-and-go traffic at 5mph, electric becomes a huge win. An ICE is probably idling even when not moving (that is changing somewhat in newer cars as they can start and stop the engine quite a bit quicker) while an EV (even hybrid) is effectively dividing by zero when not actually rolling (no consumption at all).
But more to the point, you are right for the moment in that the source of electricity in California is 35~50% Natural Gas, but that source/dependance will most likely change. There's no reason why provisioning for this outcome is a bad idea. Especially since switching to EV has other benefits than simply not burning Fossil Fuels.
If you have more EVs running, there is more incentive to upgrade the power generation structure, because it produces more environmental benefit.
Also, come on, the minority of generation comes from gas, but you are calling it "methane powered ICs by proxy". That looks like extremely motivated reasoning (to put it charitably).
Not true. Even if it were true most of the oil industry is losing money hand over fist.
But not as fast as the phony baloney "renewable" industry is, even with its insane subsidies.
People can't wrap their heads around the fact that sane estimates of the energy supply of the future do not support cars. People will be walking and biking and riding buses. The future is a place with far fewer cars.
Or Washington, or Oregon.
Or some point in the near future as the grid transitions to cleaner generation options.