New German Study: E-Car Climate Benefits Based On “Great Miscalculation”…”Actually Exacerbate Global Warming”!

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The German online Business Insider here reports on just how climate (un)friendly electric cars really are. It concludes that e-cars in Germany are “far from being climate friendly”.

As much of the public already suspects, the electricity coming out of the German outlets today is still largely produced by fossil fuel plants. And so e-cars indeed leave a large carbon footprint.

Moreover all the mining of raw materials and the massive amounts of energy needed to produce the batteries in the first place means it takes a very long time before the electric car ends up with a better carbon budget than a comparably sized internal combustion engine.

And never mind other disadvantages such as long charging times, high vehicle purchase price and low range.

The claim that electric cars on Germany protect the climate is based on a “great miscalculation,” Kiel Institute for the World Economy finds. Image: here

“Actually exacerbate global warming”

A new study by Ulrich Schmidt, researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, concluded that electric cars do not contribute to climate protection, and in fact “actually exacerbate global warming if the current electricity mix is taken as a basis.”

The study found the point when electric mobility can contribute to climate protection is  still”far off”.

“Based on false assumptions”

Climate activists like insisting that the future of mobility belongs to electric cars, but the Kiel Institute for the World Economy researcher says that this is not so given Germany’s current power supply mix, which still relies heavily on coal. Claims that electric cars are clean are based on false assumptions, says Schmidt.

Business Insider writes:

As Schmidt points out in his study, a complete switch to e-mobility would increase electricity demand by almost 20 percent in the German automotive sector alone. This, in turn, would require more electricity generation from fossil fuels. Provided that availability is the same in both cases. This would considerably worsen the climate balance of e-cars.”

Schmidt adds: “Regardless of what you fill up your electric car with; from a macroeconomic perspective, it runs de facto on 100 percent electricity from fossil fuels, nowadays even 100 percent from coal. This means that electric cars do not contribute to climate protection, but actually make global warming worse.”

“40% fossil fuels in 2020”

This, Schmidt says, will remain true as long as the share of fossil fuels in the electricity mix remains above 20 percent. Business Insider points out that even the “EU Commission estimates that the share of fossil fuels will still be around 40 percent in 2050.”




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21 responses to “New German Study: E-Car Climate Benefits Based On “Great Miscalculation”…”Actually Exacerbate Global Warming”!”

  1. Georg Thomas

    This finding is immaterial in that the fundamental problem is gullibility.

    The complete lack of interest in questioning government/media “facts” by the population during the Corona scam underscores that any nonsense will be accepted by the German population. People are eager to act as the Gedankenpolizei (thought police) of their masters. When I make critical (not polemical) remarks in the public, I tend to get angry responses.

    People cherish their “heile Welt” (a world where things are as they should be), and the “heile Welt” is a place where government is infallible, gives you orientation, unfailingly protects and rescues you from any (government-invented) danger.

    Most Germans adopt this stance either because they are religiously committed (deeply believing in the political correct nonsense) and/or they (the hangers-on type) develop a psychological defence mechanism that cuts out the possibility that the powers-that-be may actually be cheating them. You might want to call this a modified Stockholm syndrome: people identifying with the problem, thereby making it go away (in their perception). They identify with government propaganda so as not to get embarrassed by its mendacity.

    Government-cum-media propaganda has been so effective in Germany that politically correct content is now embedded in social conventions (to denigrate Trump e.g. is like saying “Guten Morgen” in this country), you cannot refuse to play along without endangering what everybody wants to enjoy: social acceptance. So the modified Stockholm syndrome is for those not particularly activist but still wishing to be socially accepted (“normal Germans”).

    The country has completely lost its capacity for rational self-control. It has become a popular theocracy.

    The shocking thing is not only the irresponsibility of the government and the media but also the high demand for deception by the authorities and establishment folly among the population. “Führer befiehl, wir folgen dir” (“Führer tell us what to do, we are eager to follow your commands”.

  2. Georg Thomas

    This finding is immaterial in that the fundamental problem is gullibility.

    The complete lack of interest in questioning government/media “facts” by the population during the Corona scam underscores that any nonsense will be accepted by the German population. People are eager to act as the Gedankenpolizei (thought police) of their masters. When I make critical (not polemical) remarks in the public, I tend to get angry responses.

    People cherish their “heile Welt” (a world where things are as they should be), and the “heile Welt” is a place where government is infallible, gives you orientation, unfailingly protects and rescues you from any (including government-invented) danger.
    Most Germans adopt this stance either because they are religiously committed (deeply believing in the political correct nonsense) and/or they (the hanger-on type) develop a psychological defence mechanism that cuts out the possibility that the powers-that-be may actually be cheating them. You might want to call this a modified Stockholm syndrome: people identifying with the problem, thereby making it go away (in their perception). They identify with government propaganda so as not to get embarrassed by its mendacity.

    Government-cum-media propaganda has been so effective in Germany that politically correct content is now embedded in social conventions (to denigrate Trump e.g. is like saying “Guten Morgen” in this country), you cannot refuse to play along without endangering what everybody wants to enjoy: social acceptance. So the modified Stockholm syndrome is for those not particularly activist but still wishing to be socially accepted (“normal Germans”).

    The country has completely lost its capacity for rational self-control. It has become a popular theocracy.

    The shocking thing is not only the irresponsibility of the government and the media but also the high demand for deception by the authorities and establishment folly among the population. “Führer befiehl, wir folgen dir” (“Führer tell us what to do, we are eager to follow your commands”.

  3. John F. Hultquist

    electric cars do not contribute to climate protection,

    The words “climate protection” imply what?

    I think he has studied CO2 production, so he can say the research shows there is no advantage to E-cars over the ICE-cars.

    The influence of CO2 on temperature in the atmosphere is not known.
    Climate should be plural — climates — and I guess “protection” means they ought to remain the same forever.
    Next Thursday let’s discuss weather protection. Where to start?

  4. pochas94

    I have always estimated that electric car efficiency in delivering power from fuel to electric power to battery to road is about .3 * .9 * .9 = .24 (24 percent) while fuel to road via IC engine is about 15 percent. So batteries are not too bad once you have paid for the batteries and are willing to put up with long recharge times.

    But why not skip batteries altogether and go right to the good stuff, and that is hydrogen?

    “Petroleum use and emissions are lower than for gasoline-powered internal combustion engine vehicles. The only product from an FCEV tailpipe is water vapor but even with the upstream process of producing hydrogen from natural gas as well as delivering and storing it for use in FCEVs, the total greenhouse gas emissions are cut in half and petroleum is reduced over 90% compared to today’s gasoline vehicles.” See below for the reference.

    IMHO, that last sentence is a bold one, but wonderful if true. And you do have to pay for the fuel cell.

    https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-natural-gas-reforming

    1. dennisambler

      “the total greenhouse gas emissions are cut in half ”

      No they are increased. Water vapour is the main “greenhouse gas”

      https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/global-maps/MYDAL2_M_SKY_WV
      Water is constantly cycling through the atmosphere. Water evaporates from the Earth’s surface and rises on warm updrafts into the atmosphere. It condenses into clouds, is blown by the wind, and then falls back to the Earth as rain or snow. This cycle is one important way that heat and energy are transferred from the surface of the Earth to the atmosphere, and transported from one place to another on our planet.

      Water vapor is also the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Heat radiated from Earth’s surface is absorbed by water vapor molecules in the lower atmosphere. The water vapor molecules, in turn, radiate heat in all directions. Some of the heat returns to the Earth’s surface.

      1. pochas94

        If you check your stoichiometry you’ll find that the same water that reacts with the methane to produce hydrogen and CO2 is released when the hydrogen is combined with oxygen in the fuel cell.

  5. Jeremy Poynton

    Similar here. Planet has not sufficient resources for starters…

    https://www.thegwpf.com/britains-electric-car-strategy-is-doomed-to-failure/

    “Turning to the raw materials needed to produce batteries, Kelly claims: “If we replace all of the UK vehicle fleet with EVs, and assuming they use the most resource-frugal next-generation batteries, we would need the following materials:

    207,900 tonnes of cobalt – just under twice the annual global production;
    264,600 tonnes of lithium carbonate – three-quarters of the world’s production;
    at least 7,200 tonnes of neodymium and dysprosium – nearly the entire world production of neodymium; and
    2,362,500 tonnes of copper – more than half the world’s production in 2018.”

  6. Peter Davies

    There is a huge flaw in the study, because it is assuming either no expansion of renewables on grid at the same time as EVs, or that further renewables on the grid would always displace fossil fuel generation in the absence of EVs.

    In fact, neither is true.

    For the first assumption, Germany, in particular, has plans to continue to install more renewables, at least as offshore wind farms. Most recently some of this offshore has been been bid subsidy free, and the rest with very little subsidy nowadays. And onshore wind and solar installations are ongoing, though more controlled than previously.

    For the second assumption, offshore wind will be dispatched ahead of coal whenever it is available, but not necessarily if there is not enough load to require all the offshore wind power. In that case some renewables generation would be curtailed.

    Most EV charging is highly flexible in when it can take place, and that isn’t mentioned in the article. A vehicle range of 300 miles, and average daily commute of, say, 40 miles, would give at least 5 days of flexibility in recharging. That excludes the small minority of vehicles which are recharging at the beginning, or in the middle of long journeys. Flexible charging is the basis for smart charging, which can provide cheaper electricity for travel.

    The net effect of all this is that, with smart charging, if additional variable renewable energy is installed at the same pace as the EV switch, at renewable energy will preferentially be used for charging, and not additional fossil fuel generation. Probably 10% of power for charging will come from fossil fuels, at times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. The rest of the time it will come from new renewable generation – provided smart charging is implemented.

    With the availability of sufficient storage, most charging could come from renewables, even with no smart charging. But in fact, not only will there be smart charging, but many EVs will be subscribed to “V2g” or vehicle to grid, in which the storage on the EV is also used to reduce times of peak fossil fuel generation provided sufficient new renewables are installed.

    In other words, the switch to EVs acts as a kind of “force multiplier” for renewable energy, enabling higher levels of renewables on the grid with more efficient use of it, prior to dedicated grid storage becoming cheap enough to do this without flexible loads.

    Since the article doesn’t mention smart charging, flexible loads and V2g, it is reasonable to call it flawed. And that is why, for all the impressive equations, it reaches the wrong conclusion.

    1. Nial

      “Probably 10% of power for charging will come from fossil fuels, at times when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. The rest of the time it will come from new renewable generation – provided smart charging is implemented”

      So you come out to drive to work in the morning and find your battery is flat because it’s been drained to support the grid.

      ?

      And HTF are you supposed to keep the grid stable with 100’s of thousands of cheap inverters feeding back into it?

      People talk about ‘smart’ grids in a hand waving ‘isn’t it brilliant’ sort of way, but when you look at the practicalities it’s unworkable.

      1. Yonason

        If they were capable of feeling shame at making stupid assertions, your comment would elicit it. Sadly, they are not. Still, very nicely done!

  7. cementafriend

    As a chemical engineer with experience in thermodynamics and heat transfer I know that AGW and the so-called renamed “climate change” is a scam. CO2 in the atmosphere can not heat the Earth’s surface and this is shown by CO2 level changes lagging temperature changes. I also know much about electricity generation via electro-chemical equipment (including solar), motive sources such as IC engines, turbines (gas, steam, water) and nuclear generation. E-cars are not financially viable (without government subsidies and incentives)until on board generation is available. This could come in another 30 years time with small nuclear reactors which are now used in submarines and ships like ice-breakers.
    Note with diesel-electric rail locomotives, electricity comes from a IC diesel driven generator.

    1. Yonason

      No disagreement from me.

      ASIDE – I posted a comment to your website, which you didn’t acknowledge seeing. If you have, sorry for pestering. But if you haven’t, I think you’ll enjoy the video I linked to in support of your article.
      https://cementafriend.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/pyramids/#comment-95

      1. cementafriend

        Sorry, Yonason I did look at the video but I think there were some wrong conclusions. One the composition (or chemistry) of the limestone. There are marker in most minerals eg Ca/Sr ratio, the Mg/ca ratio, the SiO2/Cao ratio etc. I have looked at analyses of excavated polished concrete floors in Isreal dated around 7000BC. It is clear that the concrete was made with lime and a crushed limestone aggregate. My belief is that to harden the concrete a fire was lit a one end of the building and drawn across the wet concrete mix so that the lime was carbonated. The unknown is if the lime was made from impure limestone so it had some hydraulic properties from calcium silicate. Similar concrete floors of similar age have been excavated in Turkey. There it is possible that a pure limestone used for the lime but volcanic ash was added to give some strength and result in the higher silica content. I have found that knowing some geology on top of chemical engineering helps in identifying what may have occurred in the past.

        1. Yonason

          Thanks for your observations on that.

          Sounds like you and Dr. Barsoum could have an interesting and possibly productive conversation, if he still has any interest in the topic.

          If you have any online-accessible refs, could you post them on your site. I’d like to see them.

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  9. pochas94

    Whether its batteries or hydrogen, let’s not depend on windmills to get you where you’re going.

  10. Yonason

    A little (a whole lot, actually) of perspective…

    A Canadian engineer recently ran the numbers involved in the switchover to electric vehicles and concluded that in order to match the 2000 cars that a typical filling station can service in a busy 12 hours, the filling station would require 600, 50 watt chargers at an estimated cost of $24 million and a supply of 30 megawatts of power from the grid which would be enough to power 20,000 homes. Unlike home recharging stations, these would be operating at peak usage hours where the rates are the highest. Can you spell brownout and blackout. Basically new grids will need to be built at the cost of billions._________
    https://www.cfact.org/2020/06/19/energy-density-and-the-electric-car-charging-dilemma/

    H/T – John Ray’s GreenieWatch blog
    https://antigreen.blogspot.com/2020/06/greens-promote-child-slave-labor-and.html

    If that isn’t insane, I don’t know what is.

    1. Yonason

      P.S. – the above seems to me a bit of an overestimate, but perhaps not much more than about 2 to 4 fold, which would still be an enormous indictment of the folly of the EV mandate the govt promises to impose.

      Can you imagine a mass evacuation to escape a hurricane under such a mandate? Most people would never make it out, and those that did would probably still not get far enough away. Nearly everyone would be caught on the road without shelter, food or water. It would not be just insanity. It would be criminally insane – like forcing COVID19 patients to nursing homes where they would infect and kill the elderly there, …isn’t that right, gov., Cuomo?

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