42 Comments

I’ve read recently that the cost of removing CO2 from the air is about $600 per ton and that this cost is projected to go down significantly, perhaps to $100 per ton. So I asked myself what is the trade between an EV and an ICE with equally clean air. At 7,000 miles per year as assumed in this article I think an ICE produces about 3 tons of CO2 per year. An EV produces about 5 tons more CO2 to manufacture than an ICE and costs more, say $20,000 for arguments sake. If I’ve got this right then the break-even cost for equally clean air takes about 12 or 13 years at current CO2 clean up costs.

Acquiring and improving clean up technologies could help with other sources of CO2 such as a rocket launch which produces as much CO2 as 395 transatlantic flights.

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Based on the two carbon capture facilities, we have here in Canada, this has been a flop. Their carbon footprint has been neat the amount of carbon captured, so the net gain is a fraction of what was projected. There is also a lot more pollution than CO2 that needs to be removed. If fact CO2 is really one of the milder concerns.

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Unfortunately people completely miss this. CO2 is a small part of the problem. Toxins is the really big problem.

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Bob, carbon capture and storage has also being pushed by the FF industry for decades and we have ZERO implementations of the tech.

EVs are a mature and proven technology that is already ramping up. No need for some magical tech that has zero working models but will magically drop 6 fold in price and be globally deployed at hundreds of gigatons capacity in short order. In 20 years there will be very few gasoline cars in the world. The problem is solved.

Besides the CO2, what about all the other toxins being emitted by ICEVs? That is the BIGGER problem. People focus much on CO2 instead of the real poison problem. Just not polluting the air w these toxic emissions alone is why we should stop burning gasoline.

Also, when we stop consuming oil for land based transportation we will reduce the need for destructive oil drilling by about 1.2 billion tons. We only need to mine about an extra 200 million tons of material to build enough batteries annually to make all cars run on electricity AND remove coal and gas from electricity production. Once the grid runs on solar and wind stored in batteries (bcz solar and wind is not available 24/7 in any one place) we will also remove 6.5 billion tons of destructive coal mining.

EVs and renewable energy will reduce not just car emissions but also about half of ALL global mining. Oil and coal alone amount to about 12 billion tons of mining/drilling a year (1.2 billion tons of coal is used for metallurgical purposes and won't stop. And most oil will still be consumed. A 100% BEV fleet drops oil consumption by about 25%). The next biggest material being mined is iron at 2.6 billion tons. Whatever we mine for batteries is insignificant. And all lithium-ion batteries (just like all lead-acid batteries today) will be recycled so even that extra mining will eventually be reduced to just growth and waste (maybe about 5%) once enough materials are above ground (probably 35-40 years). Currently estimates in the US (which is behind on all things batteries and EVs) are that already by 2037 we will create more batteries from recycled materials than from new mined raw materials.

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Thanks Johan.

I guess I’m still thinking we would be better off if there were a way to have the two technologies remain viable and competitive. You point out a number of valid reasons to go all EV but there are concerns as well.

As to the maturity of clean-up strategies you are of course correct. However this is true of all evolving technologies. We shouldn’t close ourselves off to other opportunities.

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I understand the benefits of non-fossil-fuel alternatives but don’t we need to consider the realities of where these resources are located? A large majority of the alternative energy market is currently controlled by China. I understand that other sources of these resources are being explored but there is also significant push-back from environmental factions to exploiting these resources (e.g. the not-in-my-back-yard thinking). The US interior department recently blocked the twin metals mining project in Minnesota for example. I’m concerned about ignoring these realities hence my support for not giving up fossil fuel alternatives. We don’t live in a world where we are all working cooperatively to a common end. China the largest emitter of CO2 by far, for example, has doubled down on its plans for for using coal wanting to see if the alternatives will work. It’s not inconceivable that China and the west will be in conflict in the near term.

I’ve heard that sources of raw materials in other parts of the world (other than China) are talking about creating cartels like those for fossil fuels to control the resources needed for these alternative energy sources.

Shouldn’t we also consider slave and child labor in other parts of the world that are currently necessary to support current alternative energy sources? Also, what of the disposal/recycling scenario.

This is a complex issue and we need to think through all of the realities as we decide on our course of action.

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Feb 28, 2023·edited Feb 28, 2023

Thanks Bob.

China has a strong coal lobby that is as bad as the power of the oil lobby in the US. It is a double standard though to say you can't burn coal because it's bad now but when we did it, it was OK. The coal problem will go away as we transition to renewables over the next 20 years. Coal is dead. On China it's just being abused as a jobs program. Well maintained coal plants lasts about 40 years. The avg coal plant in the world is about 20 years. New plants being built are a fraction of what is getting shut down and in another 5 years building coal will be a no go virtually anywhere in the world. In 20 years they woll be gone. 10 years ago EVs had 0.1% market share. In 10 years it will be 100%. Same with FF electricity vs renewable electricity.

Child labor is a problem in many places. Just like racism unfortunately it will never be 100% eliminated. Clean and cheap abundant energy will enrich the world and child labor will be reduced because of access to energy leading to more kids getting access to education. The world doesn't develop equally. Child labor was a normal accepted thong in Western culture and the developed world just 100-150 years ago. The rest of the world will catch up as they become wealthier. The world is not perfect and don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

The IRA was developed to bend supply chains (specifically for battery materials and making EVs and renewable energy products) back to the US. It's OUR failure to let China get in a leading position on renewable energy manufacturing capacity. Thanks the oil lobby and corrupt politicians for that. At least the powers to be have realised that batteries is the new oil and we might as well get on with it.

So much more to say but I accidentally lost what I typed TWICE now.

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Thanks for good exchange of ideas. I’m afraid I took things off track from the article Hannah wrote but it was worthwhile for me.

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Thanks Bob. Fossil fuels as an energy means will go away. It is wasteful. Over 62% of all primary input energy in the US goes to waste because of combustion. Think about that. 2/3 of all fuels are wasted during combustion.

You get 100% of the pollution for 1/3 the work/energy.Withh a renewable system (which is busy happening) you cut out over 80% of this waste.

Wells to wheels NOTHING beats renewable energy and BEVs. Over 70% efficient. Oil to gasoline to ICE is around 20% efficient.

BEV is now a certainty. It took 5 years from 2012 to 2017 for BEV adoption to increase 10 fold and go from 0.1% to 1% of the auto market. From 2018 to 2022 it grew 10 fold again. 3% to 5% is the inflection point for ANY new technology. In 7-8 years BEV will be 75% to 90% of auto sales. The fleet of 1.5B ICEVs will get turned over in 15-20 years from 2030.

The same is now happening w solar and wind (the battery piece is solved bcz of EVs). Bcz of it's intermittency, solar and wind requires batteries. All these pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Solar surpassed 1000 GW of installed capacity globally last year. Our global electric capacity it about 7000 GW. However we will need to install 20,000 GW solar and wind (and about 300 TWh of batteries) to go all renewable (we will still have hundreds of GW of nuclear and hydro to support this).

All these technologies have known cost declines of 14% to 22% per year and has been occuring for over 50 years for solar and 30 years for lithium ion batteries since it's invention in 1990. BEVs and solar+wind+batteries are basically baked into reality now because of the declining cost curves and adoption hitting an inflection point.

ICEV and electricity adoption happened regardless of two world wars, a major global pandemic AND a global great depression between 1920 and 1945. We are going through a similar change now as then. But like we adopted coal electricity and oil/gasoline transportation then, we are now adopting renewable energy/electricity and electric cars.

Any regulations to clean up the air or to outlaw ICEVs are ridiculous because it will be TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. You cannot fight the economics.

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Very well said. You nailed it IMO.

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EVs and renewable energy will reduce mining? Solar cells, wind generators, electric motors and batteries all require minerals like Li, Co, Cu, Se and rare earth metals which are much more destructive and toxic to mine than petroleum wells or gas fracking.

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All those materials you mention are part of 200 million tons of metals being mined annually. The battery materials is a small part of that 200 million tons.

Even if it is 20m tons and scales up 20x it's only 400m tons. Coal use of 6.4b tons will go away. As well as 1.1b tons of oil. And at least 1b tons of NatGas used for heating and electricity generation (over 2b tons but not all of it will go away). +400m tons battery materials -8600m tons fossil fuels equals -8200m tons. Not that hard.

Also, we mine 6.8b tons of materials (includes oil, gas and coal) per year to sustain the lifestyle of the avg US citizen (40,000 pounds PER person).

If you have a problem w an extra few hundred million tons of material mining you need to first complain about the other 20b to 30b tons of mining globally for everything else.

The 'but the battery materials mining' argument is a FF sponsored mainstream media pushed sound bite. Go look up global materials mining numbers and realise you have been misled.

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Also. Batteries can last 10-20 years in a car and then 20+ years as grid storage. And can then be infinitely recycled.

Solar panels last 40-50 years. And recycling them can also be readily accomplished ONCE there is enough demand for it. There is no demand currently bcz most solar panels in the world are only 10-15 years old.

Also. We need to recycle all the oil, coal and natgas we consume. Yeah, I didn't think it was about recycling 😉. As well as all the powerplants, oil drills and refineries when we stop using them. Please start complaining about that.

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Plus after 10 years the EV will require a new expensive battery replacement.

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Actually current EV batteries can outlast the rest of the vehicle, as typical cycle life is up to 800,000 KM (500,000 Miles), with million mile batteries under development. Most people don’t put anywhere near this mileage on a vehicle. How long will that engine, transmission, timing chain etc. last on a gas vehicle? Tesla advises their drive train is designed for 1M miles.

Battery warranties are 8-10 years, but they should last for 15-20 years. At their end of life, they often still have 70% of the original range remaining.

The EV battery cells themselves, are typically designed for a minimum 1500 empty to 100% full charge cycles ( NCM chemistry ), more for LFP chemistry. The larger the battery, the less full cycles you will use for the same distance, so the longer it lasts.

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Why do they only warranty a 500000 mile battery for 8 years or 100000 miles? Maybe they don’t want to put their money on their words.

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Why do internal combustion engines only get warrantied for 3 years and 36k miles??? Because they stop working at that point?

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Battery materials are infinitely recyclable. 99% of all lead-acid batteries gets recycled today. Lithium ion will be the same.

90% or more of a battery pack can be recycled (not the plastic bits maybe at this point). To mine and refine the same amount of materials will require much more energy than refining it. Batteries are highly refined ore already. Just re-use it.

Now please recycle all the oil, Natgas and coal we consume. If you care about recycling, then you have to care about the fact that no FF can be recycled. Obviously people don't think about that because it is not convenient to the FF narrative.

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Saw YouTube video of cold performance and how much Tesla trip planner really alleviates this concern. I have a 2014 PHEV with tiny battery and lack of triplanner is noticeable as it is too much mental effort to try and keep battery charged when running errands (current 10 mile range with over 100,000 miles on the car) It is amazing to me that some cities charging infrastructure is getting so good and range is so good even someone who has an apartment could realistically have an EV without much inconvenience.

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I live in Hamburg, Germany in a densely populated neighborhood with tons of on-street parking and some neighbors regularly park their BEVs on the street, from small Fiat 500e to big Hyundai Ioniq 5. They might have charging at their employer or use one of the 200 private and public charging points in the city, but they seem to be doing just fine.

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Great article. I imagine that range *anxiety* is inversely correlated with (super fast) charger availability.

Many gas cars don't have great ranges, but no one is anxious because gas stations are plentiful.

The market will eventually figure out the balance between long-range vehicles and charging networks. I'd expect average sold ranges to increase at first given scarce available charging (true today for all non-Teslas in the USA), but to level off, or modestly decline as charging becomes abundant. All depends on the cost of EV batteries vs building out available widely compatible charging networks.

It's important to remember that most car trips in the USA are <3 miles, but people still purchase for the extremes.

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Being in an apartment I’d feel most comfortable with Lucid-level range. Will be interesting to see if/when that becomes affordable. Hope you don’t mind me sharing this recent piece. I thought it made some cogent and neglected points on EV range and charging…

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/02/electric-vehicle-tesla-ford-f-150-expensive-cars/673024/

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Charging time is a factor for those who cannot charge at home or work, and generally a car with a longer range battery will take longer to charge. Shorter range cars will charge faster and use less energy since the batteries are less massive. I would like to see more variety in EVs to address differences in usages. For instance I mostly drive less than 30 miles a day , can charge at home, but every few months take long 8 hour road trips, so an ideal car would have a range of around 100 miles but would have an accessory battery pack or small fossil fuel generator like BMW i3 had that could be attached for long distance use. I also think there won’t be enough highway charging stations available, and wait times will make charging take over 30 minutes, they should combine these more with dining, shopping or entertainment to make the waits more bearable.

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Here in Australia a good quality petrol car, like a Hyundai Kona with most of the extras, cost A$27,000 brand new. This was 2021 I think. I looked for prices on electric cars and couldn’t find anything below A$50,000.

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Good work!

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In the commentary and article I see all kinds of numbers thrown around: 99% recycling on batteries, hundreds of thousands of miles on EV batteries prior to exchange (outlasting the chassis?), average range 220 miles for EV, price of "refueling" for EV meeting and then beating gasoline, CO2 being a relatively small part of the problem of emissions, mining of battery elements a small part of global mining...

It would seem the argument here is that EVs are good things, and that ICE is on its way out. This presupposes the fast charging infrastructure being built as well as the transmission network to support it, on the road and at home.

I see rules in California banning ICE sales by 2035, and the EV lobby saying the USA will be there by 2050. Less than 1% of the 250 million cars on the road now are EV. 46% of those polled say they won't consider EV when buying, and 36% say they will. Government subsidizes $7500 to $120000 of the purchase price (???), but those EVs are still $10,000 more to buy than ICE.

And the whole reason behind all this... CO2 in the air? That is what bugs me... we have a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. CO2 concentration does not contribute to global warming or climate change, and there is the rub.

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Next time, please put the last paragraph first, so we don't have to read all the rest from a climate change denier. I do appreciate the transparency, so thank you for that!

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nobody can deny climate change. because... climate changes. always has, always will. I think what you meant to say is that I am an anthropogenic atmospheric warming denier. Specifically what I advocate is that CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has, without doubt, risen since 1940 (which the tree huggers term the beginning of the industrial age of anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases... corresponding to the large scale use of ICE (internal combustion engine) devices and the burning of natural gas and oil and such for heating and energy. You can see that from the Mauna Lau long term measurements of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. A rise from 280 ppm to 408 ppm... a 45% increase. However it is proven both in temperature measurements as well as in the lab (e.g. Heinz Hug) that an increase in CO2 concentration does not result in an increase in thermal energy in the atmosphere, just a reduction in the height above the Earth's surface where that energy is absorbed. It is called saturation, and is true of ANY greenhouse gas interacting with the black body re-radiation of absorbed heat by the Earth from incoming solar radiation. AND... the greenhouse effect of CO2 is dwarfed to the extreme by the greenhouse effect of water vapor. It isn't even close. Heck, just the change in relative humidity on a day in South Carolina (you know... mugginess) puts CO2 to absolute shame. So... if you are comfortable in believing what you think you know about something you haven't studied... well that's the great thing about living in the USA. You are free to believe and say what you will.

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What taxing method would replace the lost gasoline taxes attributed to EVs? How much more electricity is needed to recharge EVs, the generation of witch would produce more emissions?

I haven't seen any articles addressing these problems attributed to an EV changeover.

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What taxing method would replace all of the lost gasoline taxes from EV's to support road infrastructure? How much more electricity needs to be generated to charge the EVs, witch would produce more emissions? I haven't seen any articles that address these problems created by EVs.

Joe Mielnicki

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Yes, it is so much better now. I got one of the first Leafs. By the time I traded it for a Volt 5 years later it was no good for maybe 60 miles range. Before it got that bad I tried a 100 mile each way trip a couple of times. Mistake. The only mid-way fast charging station at the time was too far away to finish the return trip. It ended up taking hours longer than it dues to a couple of extra stops at slow charging stations. My 2020 Bolt is much better, though it's range is limited until the battery gets replaced.

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We're all going EV,whether anyone likes it or not.Otherwise,you'll be driving your old ICE car.I'm looking forward to buying,when my current ICE car needs replacement.Should be more choices and better EV's in the future.Looking forward to riding my bike in a cleaner air environment.

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Is there any data on the correlation between public transit development and EV usage? Perhaps looking at the number of EV charging stations & metro stations within a urban centers in different cities?

I'm all for EV adoption, but I hope to have it evolves a sort of synergism to transit (as opposed to the antagonistic alternative gas-powered cars currently present to transit).

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Very nice piece. Setting aside comical situations like this F-150 "Lightning" (first video shows the pickup sitting on side of road being charged by a gas-powered portable generator in the bed of truck;

second a car enthusiast testing one for towing range) we have grave concerns about where this is all going from an environmental standpoint.

https://twitter.com/RileyMooreWV/status/1626956027160629248?s=20

https://www.motortrend.com/reviews/ford-f150-lightning-electric-truck-towing-test/

Our concerns relate to the mining aspect of EVs. Whether that's cobalt in DRCongo or aluminum in Brazil or any of the other necessary multitude of metals that will be required. Since most of those will be mined in developing countries, our applied industry experience has shown us how risks to human health and the environment are managed in the mining industry overseas (vs. the West). https://twitter.com/climate/status/1630243309707997185?s=20

We have also written on the sheer magnitude of metals that would be required to convert all present fossil fuel-based energy to wind, solar, biomass (and nuclear, realistically). https://envmental.substack.com/p/sustainabilchemy

We applaud EV deployment strategically. We know many people for whom they are a perfect fit (distance, lifestyle, etc.). But we're realistic about the resource and environmental implications related to mining. It was not lost on us either when Argonne Nat'l Labs found that all EV miles driven on US roads in 2021 displaced only 700 million gallons of gas, equal to about 1.8 days of US gas consumption or 0.50% of US gas consumption that year.

Can we realistically displace maybe 20-30% of the US vehicle fleet in a reasonable GHG/resource-related environmental tradeoff? Probably. But let's make sure and show the tradeoffs. What Siddharth Kara and others are showing can't be swept under the rug in all this.

Keep up the good work, Hannah.

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Depends on where you live I guess.

Government rebates, plus fuel & maintenance savings come into play when looking at costs. In Canada combined provincial & federal rebates can save you up to $13k CDN. Then I save $3k a year on fuel, or $21k over 7 years.

Tesla is expected to give some idea this Wednesday on where they are going with a lower cost vehicle. They kicked off the year with price cuts up to 20%, starting a bit of a price war.

US EV battery subsidies of 30-40% will have a big impact next year, on cars made there. Lower cost EVs will likely destroy the resale value of ICE vehicles, over the next 3-5 years.

It’s mostly the Japanese car companies that have fallen behind and cannot yet produce a competitive EV.

Here faster charging, & lots of chargers has also helped end range anxiety.

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Aren’t government rebates a distribution of costs to others rather than a cost reduction?

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Unfortunately, governments subsidize many things. One of the biggest is the oil and gas industry. If they stop subsidizing this, there would be no need to subsidize electric vehicles, and their infrastructure because gasoline would be so much more expensive. The move would be obvious for most.

An increase in pollution taxes on gasoline would also be more effective. However, governments prefer carrots, rather than sticks, as it is more acceptable to the public.

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Thanks Kevin.

My bias is that government intervention in the marketplace creates unintended consequences that can’t be politically/economically engineered away. I’d like to see some good discussion on eliminating all government intervention in the automobile industry so that we can really see how EV’s and ICE’s compare after considering all costs including the cost of environmental impacts and risks of energy dependence on other countries.

If the two technologies were able to compete on an equal playing field we would all be better off than we would be relying on a single approach.

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I don’t think I would call that bias. Sounds like common sense to me. You do realize without these subsidies & bailouts, GM & Chrysler would not currently exist. Stronger more innovative companies would have taken their place, & we would be better off.

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Doesn't the fuel tax vastly outweigh fuel subsidy in most regions. cost of gas pays for roads and EV's get a free pass on paying for roads through fuel tax. road maintenance is big deal as some states have crumbling infrastructure. I wonder how Norway does this for instance with such a high rate of ev adoption they could tap their sovereign wealth fund for road maintenance I guess. maybe ICE holdouts will end up paying brunt of the roads for next 20 years!

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Until there are better charging networks, especially in urban areas where overnight charging is difficult I don’t think EVs are going to replace most ICE cars even with the extravagant taxpayer funded EV subsidies. I think the Japanese manufacturers have the right idea.

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In north America charging stations seem to be coming pretty quick. We’ve done really well in Canada and now the US has the IRA funding for fast charging expansion.

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