Automobile

When will electric cars become cleaner than gasoline cars?

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Detroit-you slip out quietly Tesla In your stylish new electric car showroom Model 3, Satisfied that you look great and have made your own contribution to this planet.

But keep going-you must drive another 13,500 miles (21,725 ​​kilometers) to cause less harm to the environment than a gas-guzzling car.

This is the result of Reuters analysis of data from a model that calculates life. Emissions As governments around the world promote more environmentally friendly transportation to achieve climate goals, this controversial issue is becoming the focus.

The model was developed by the Chicago Argonne National Laboratory and includes thousands of parameters from metal types. Electric car (electric car) battery To the amount of aluminum or plastic in the car.

Argonne’s Greenhouse Gas, Regulated Emissions, and Technical Energy Use (GREET) model is now being used with other tools to help shape U.S. policy Environmental Protection Agency (Environmental Protection Agency) And the California Air Resources Board, which are the two main regulatory agencies for vehicle emissions in the United States.

Jarod Cory Kelly, chief energy systems analyst at Argonne, said that manufacturing electric vehicles produces more carbon than internal combustion engine vehicles, mainly due to the extraction and processing of minerals in electric vehicle batteries and the production of power batteries.

However, estimates of how big the carbon gap is when the car is first sold and the “break-even” point of an electric car in its life cycle may vary greatly, depending on assumptions.

Kelly said that the payback period depends on things like the size of the electric car battery, Fuel economy How gasoline cars and the electricity used to charge electric cars are produced.

Norway is the winner

Reuters inserted a series of variables into the Argonne model, which had more than 43,000 users as of 2021, to arrive at some answers.

The aforementioned Tesla 3 program is suitable for driving in the United States, where 23% of the electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, equipped with 54 kilowatt-hour (kWh) batteries and cathodes made of nickel, cobalt, and aluminum, among other variables.

It is compatible with gasoline-fueled Toyota Corolla Weighs 2,955 pounds, with Fuel efficiency 33 miles per gallon. Assume that these two vehicles will travel 173,151 miles during their lifetime.

But if driving the same Tesla in Norway, almost all of the electricity comes from renewable hydroelectric power, then the break-even point will appear after only 8,400 miles.

If the electricity used to charge an electric car comes entirely from coal, and coal generates most of the electricity in the following countries/regions China And Poland, you have to drive 78,700 miles to reach carbon parity corolla, According to Reuters’ analysis of data generated by the Argonne model.

Reuters analysis shows that the production of medium-sized EV cars produces 47 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile during the extraction and production process, exceeding 8.1 million grams before reaching the first customer.

In contrast, a similar gasoline car produces 32 grams per mile, or more than 5.5 million grams.

According to Michael Wang, director and senior scientist of the Argonne Energy Systems Department’s System Evaluation Center, electric vehicles generally emit much less carbon during their 12-year lifespan.

Reuters analysis shows that even in the worst case, an electric car will only be charged from the coal-fired grid, it will generate an additional 4.1 million grams of carbon each year, while a similar gasoline car will generate more than 4.6 million grams of carbon. .

When are electric cars cleaner than gasoline cars?

‘Well to the wheel’

EPA told Reuters that it uses GREET to help assess renewable fuels and vehicle greenhouse gas standards, while the California Air Resources Board uses the model to help assess compliance with the state’s low-carbon fuel standards.

The EPA stated that it has also developed an online program using Argonne’s GREET that allows US consumers Estimate the emissions of electric vehicles Based on the fuel used to generate electricity in its area.

Reuters’ analysis results are similar to the results of the life cycle assessment of European electric and internal combustion engine vehicles by the IHS Markit research team.

According to Vijay Subramanian, IHS Markit’s global carbon dioxide (CO2) compliance director, his “well-to-wheel” study shows that the typical break-even point for electric vehicle carbon emissions is about 15,000 to 20,000 miles, depending on the country.

He said that using this method shows the long-term benefits of switching to electric vehicles.

Some people are not optimistic about electric vehicles.

Damien Ernst, a researcher at the University of Liège, said in 2019 that a typical electric car must travel nearly 700,000 kilometers to emit less carbon dioxide than comparable gasoline cars. He later lowered his number.

Now, he estimates that the break-even point may be between 67,000 kilometers and 151,000 kilometers. Ernst told Reuters that he does not intend to change these findings, which are based on a different set of data and assumptions from the Argonne model.

Other groups continue to argue that electric vehicles are not necessarily cleaner or more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel vehicles.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents more than 600 companies in the petroleum industry, stated on its website: “A number of studies have shown that on a life cycle basis, different vehicle power systems can cause similar greenhouse gas emissions.”

Argonne National Laboratory is funded by the US Department of Energy and operated by the University of Chicago.

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