Category Archives: Environment

EV Charging issues

If you live in California, you can pretty much charge any EV, nearly anywhere. About 1/3d of all EV charging stations in the U.S. – are in California.

This is not the case, though, in other parts of the country. The other 49 states have only 2/3ds of all available charging stations in the country!

I have been researching EVs since last fall. One EV I like uses the J-1772 standard plug for Level 2 charging (up to about 7 kwh or may be 25 miles per hour of charging) and the CCS/SAE (or Combo) standard for up to 50 kwh charging (up to 90 miles in 30 minutes of charging).

Looking around, I discovered in my area, CCS/SAE chargers do not exist. In fact, there are none at all in my town. There are 4 chargers at one location in the next town, 20 miles to the south, and 1 about 35 miles to the north.

If I were to head south from my house, the next fast charging station is about 230 miles down the road – which may or may not be do-able due to crossing mountains. The alternative is to stop for quite a bit at Level 2 charger. Do-able, but not a quick trip.

Continue reading EV Charging issues

Electric Vehicle Efficiency

According to the U.S. government:

Energy efficient. EVs convert over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 12%–30% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.

Source: All-Electric Vehicles

Of course, one must also include the conversion of the original fuel source into electricity but that depends on the original fuel source: oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind and so on – and can vary widely.

Regardless, gasoline engines are not very energy efficient in terms of turning the energy in fuel into forward motion, as noted above and also noted here. EVs have a slightly different problem – while they use electricity efficiently, EVs weigh quite a bit more than a similar sized gasoline vehicle.

Transportation: Congress proposing an annual Federal tax on electric vehicles

Source: Congress could make EV drivers pay – POLITICO

My state, Oregon, introduced state fees for fuel efficient vehicles, beginning January 1, 2020. These fees are added to existing annual license fees. Oregon issues vehicle licenses for a 2 year period, not one, so the fee paid when renewing is twice the value shown:

a) For vehicles that have a rating of 0-19 MPG, $18.

(b) For vehicles that have a rating of 20-39 MPG, $23.

(c) For vehicles that have a rating of 40 MPG or greater, $33.

(d) For electric vehicles, $110.

The reason they charge for 2 years is it enables the state to increase the effective rate. On average, people will sell their car with one year of their license remaining. However, when sold, there is no refund. And presumably you buy a new vehicle and pay a new license fee. Same thing if you move out of state – you lose the unused portion of the fee. Now they offer a 4-year pre-paid option – don’t go there!

Oregon has also introduced a “pay per mile” license tax and says that some people may pay less fees under this scheme. When I checked the numbers for my Honda Fit, I would pay more under their pay-per-mile scheme – and I only drive about 7,000 miles per year. Sure, that pay–per-mile fee makes sense – not!

The state increased the regular vehicle license fee by 30% in 2017, and increased the state’s gasoline sales tax, which will increase every other year through 2024. The State also increased the title records fee and added a per-vehicle-sold tax on car dealers, and added a $15 tax on new bicycle purchases.

The proposed Federal tax – amount unknown – would be in addition to State license fees.

Transportation: Congress members introduce bill to establish a government run EV charging network

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Andy Levin (D-Mich.) on Thursday outlined a bill that seeks to establish a nationwide electric vehicle charging network within five years.

Source: Ocasio-Cortez, Levin eye national EV network in five years | TheHill

They admit they have no idea what it would cost taxpayers, where charging stations would be located, and would have the government establish charging standards (versus industry standards) … they have no details on anything because details don’t matter.  They do not even have a reason as to why the government needs to run this – apparently they have not heard of PlugShare.

How did we get by without a government run network of gas stations and restaurants along the Interstates? Boggles the mind. Worse, when the government runs the EV network and decides where EV charging stations will be located – watch out  for graft and corruption as politically favored communities get this infrastructure and less favored communities are cut off.

This bill will go nowhere (pun intended).

Transportation: How EVs are more efficient than ICE vehicles – power on demand and regeneration

ICE vehicle engines, except in hybrids and PHEVs, run all the time.

In an EV, you only consume power when you need power. This makes an EV ideal for city driving. When you stop at a traffic signal, your engine stops.

When you brake in an ICE vehicle, your engine keeps running as your forward momentum is converted into heat by the brakes. This means you consume fuel all the time and the kinetic energy is basically thrown away (by turning it into heat instead of future forward motion).

In an EV, when you brake, you are generating electricity. Essentially all EVs have regenerative braking capabilities. Your kinetic energy is stored for future use.

When you climb a hill or mountain pass in an ICE vehicle, once you get to the top, you can coast downhill, but the engine is still running at idle, at a minimum. Your potential energy is translated, partially (not 100% efficient of course), into kinetic energy of forward motion – but chances are that you’ll either use braking (converting kinetic energy into wasted heat) or engine braking (similar).

In an EV, once you have climbed to the top, your vehicle generates electricity on the downhill side, adding miles back into the battery pack. This converts your potential energy back into future forward miles.

As we note below, EVs weigh much more than ICE vehicles. Consequently it takes more energy to lift them up mountain passes, but with the ability to recover some of that energy on the way back down.

Transportation: The large dead weight of EV batteries

The 2020 Honda Fit (using ICE) and the 2020 Chevy Bolt (EV) are nearly identical in capacity and general specifications – except for one very notable item:

2020 Honda Fit – image from Honda web site

2020 Chevy Bolt EV – image from Chevrolet web site:

The two cars are amazing similar with nearly identical cargo space, with or without the back seats up or down. The Fit includes a spare tire, the Chevy Bolt does not.

The biggest difference – the price and weight of the vehicles.

  • The 2020 Honda Fit starts at about $16,000 and weighs 2,522 to 2,648 pounds depending on options and version.
  • The 2020 Chevy Bolt EV starts at $37,000 and weights 3,563 pounds.
  • A Tesla Model 3 weighs over 4,000 pounds.

The Bolt EV weights almost 1,000 pounds or 38% more than the Honda Fit.

Why? The battery. The energy density of EV batteries is very low relative to gasoline. EV makers have to use large batteries to achieve a range of 200 to 300 or more miles.

When we consider the overall energy efficiency and emissions of the two vehicles, we should note the inefficiency of carrying nearly 40% more weight for a small reduction in lifetime emissions:

Update: I wonder what impact the heavier weight of EVs has on roadway surfaces? Weight has long been considered a major factor in the degradation of roadway surfaces. If we transitioned the entire automotive fleet to vehicles weighing 30-40% more, what effect does that have on roadways and what are the costs associated with those effects?

Continue reading Transportation: The large dead weight of EV batteries

Energy: Lifecycle GHG emissions from a hybrid, plug in hybrid and an EV are about the same

This graphic, from the International Energy Agency, illustrates the lifetime CO2 equivalent emissions from different types of vehicles. “BEV” is a battery electric vehicle with a 400 km range, HEV is a hybrid (like Prius), PHEV is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.  This chart assumes the GHG emissions from electricity generation plants are in line with the global average. (FCEV is a fuel cell/hydrogen based system.)

Notably, BEVs are NOT zero emission vehicles and are, in general, on par with PHEVs and Prius-like hybrids when viewing their overall lifecycle emissions.


Source: Global EV Outlook 2019 – Analysis – IEA

The IEA’s model assumes similar sized vehicles in each category, that the EVs have a 400 km range (this determines the battery size), and that local electrical generation emits the global average CO2-equivalent for electricity generation. If the EV range were to be extended by 200 km more, add in the gray zone box above the EV column.

Energy: In many countries, hybrid gas/EVs emit lower emissions than pure electric vehicles

An average battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars using electricity characterised by the current global average carbon intensity (518 grammes of carbon-dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour [g CO2-eq/kWh]) emit less GHGs than a global average ICE vehicle using gasoline over their life cycle. But the extent ultimately depends on the power mix: CO2 emissions savings are significantly higher for electric cars used in countries where the power generation mix is dominated by low-carbon sources. In countries where the power generation mix is dominated by coal, hybrid vehicles exhibit lower emissions than EVs.

Source: Global EV Outlook 2019 – Analysis – IEA

Says the International Energy Agency.

Energy: Unplugging your cell phone charger does nearly nothing for the environment

Few people have any idea about the lifetime energy usage of popular consumer products.  50-75% of the energy and green house gas emissions for many cars occurs during manufacturing. Switching to an EV (for which much of its lifetime energy/GHGs is during manufacturing) may have little benefit to the earth.

When it comes to unplugging your cell phone charger:

Moreover, charging accounts for less than 1% of a phone’s energy needs; the other 99% is required to manufacture the handset and operate data centers and cell towers.

Source: Empty Gestures on Climate Change by Bjørn Lomborg – Project Syndicate

Environment: Electronics recycling reveals huge scam

An undercover tracking program is revealing the toll of the e-waste trade.

Source: The dark side of electronic waste recycling – The Verge

People want to feel good about “doing the right thing”. Recycling is an example of a “feel good” activity and “ethical recyclers” stepped in to help people feel good about their recycling. But the recyclers were not doing what they claimed. Enormous and toxic electronics waste tonnage was sent off to China where it created an environmental mess.

Like many activities, corruption and fraud take hold. Another related area is carbon offsets, where activities having little benefit may occur and where much of the offset work is invisible (and untrackable).

As long as so many consumers want to feel virtuous without undertaking meaningful efforts, scams like this will continue to perpetuate.