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Willing to Pay Extra Tax to Drive an Electric Vehicle?

electric vehicles and new taxesA new trend in the electric vehicle industry is emerging.  Several states are proposing a gas tax on vehicles produced in 2015 or later that get 55 miles per gallon or more.  Cars like the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Toyota Prius are just some of the cars that will incur this per-mile fee.

Taxes on gasoline provide approximately 60 percent of the funding every state needs to complete necessary road projects.  With more hybrids and electric vehicles on the road today, consumers are purchasing less gas, which results in states collecting less tax money.  Consequently, new sources of funding must be implemented.

Officials believe that the solution is to charge a per-mile user fee for those who do not require as much gas.  House Bill 2453 would charge 1.56 cents per mile, which is equivalent to the amount of gas taxes the average vehicle user will pay.  At this rate, if an electric vehicle owner drives 15,000 miles per year, the annual charge would be $234.

In contrast to a traditional gas tax collected at the pump, determining and collecting a per-mile fee will be a challenging endeavor.  On-board GPS equipment and cell phone applications are two options that would track and record the miles traveled on state roads, but many feel this is an extreme violation of privacy.  One alternative is to require a mileage plug-in device on each vehicle which will not track the vehicle’s actual location.  The downside is that, unlike a GPS, it would not be able to differentiate miles traveled on state roads and those traveled on private and out-of-state roads.  A second alternative would be to simply charge electric vehicle owners a flat annual fee.  Finally, some lawmakers are suggesting all cars receive an increase in vehicle registration fee, which directly contributes to the transportation fund.

AAA lobbyist Craig Campbell commented, “You have folks in pickup (trucks) who are paying far more than their fair share and you have folks in hybrids or electric vehicles who are paying nothing to the roads systems.”

With Obama’s recent requirement of all new U.S. vehicles possessing 55 mpg or better by 2025, states will certainly come to a decision and find a way to implement some variation of this tax, but will it discourage consumers from purchasing these efficient vehicles?  A major benefit of electric vehicles is their low cost of operation, but if states begin applying additional taxes, some citizens may feel the purchase is not worth the extra fee.  Furthermore, many of these drivers charge their electric vehicles at home and already pay the taxes being charged on their monthly electric bill.  Will consumers be willing to pay a tax on their vehicle twice?

Most fuel efficient vehicles already possess a high price tag, and with the government spending millions of dollars building charging stations and offering financial incentives, officials will want these cars to sell.  Paul Cosgrove, lobbyist for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, shares his concern, “If you talk to your local car dealer, you’ll find they are not so easy to sell.  Our concern is to protect the market that we are trying to grow.”

House Bill 2453 is considered a “tax-raising measure” and will require three-fifths approval in the House and Senate.  States including Oregon, Washington, Virginia, and Texas are all pushing for this bill to pass.  But what will happen to electric vehicle sales if this bill is approved?  Would you purchase one if you knew you would have to pay an additional tax?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 3, 2013

Sarah,

The problem is one inherent with using gas taxes for road projects.

They shouldn't be. Everyone benefits from a highway system, whether they drive or not. Highways bring products to market; they provide emergency access; they promote tourism. High-quality roadways are beneficial for every aspect of commerce.

Raise gas taxes and apply them to help fund emergency care and other social services, fund highways out of the general fund (need to raise taxes on multimillionaires, but we knew that, didn't we?). Problem solved.

Geoffrey Styles's picture
Geoffrey Styles on Mar 4, 2013

Sarah,

It's a complex issue, and this is a timely conversation.  Although EVs and highly efficient hybrids are still a small part of the vehicle fleet, it's better to address this now than when their owners constitute another vast and immovable interest group.  And no matter how you look at it, one would have to drive an extraordinary number of miles annually to balance out the $7,500 federal EV tax credit and various state incentives.

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Mar 4, 2013

And all of this tax nonsense is being caused by political leaders who failed to follow the recommendations of automotive industry and people like Lee Iaccoca, Bill Ford and others back in the 80's.  They called for a gradually increasing gas tax.  Had we followed their advice we wouldn't even be considering this tax - at least not for about another 10-20 years when the sales of EV's become significant.     

Our political leaders will implement a NEW tax because they can't agree on what to do with an OLD existing tax.  For heavens sakes gentlemen, have some courage and increase the existing tax to $.37 cents and then index it to inflation.  This is not complicated.  

Members of Congress do this all the time.  They create a new tax because that is easier to pass than managing an existing tax.  And we almost never cancel anything do we.  You would think that after 200+ years we would have dreamed up or created enough laws to control society don't you think.  Of course I can't remember if we have EVER had a session of Congress to CANCEL laws which are no longer of value.  And don't even get me started on our complete failure to implement enforcement provisions in the laws we create.  Don't you think it would be wise if we funded the enforcement of the laws we create so everyone understands what the consequences of the law are.  .  

Amazing how America has survived for as long as it has.  

Steve Frazer's picture
Steve Frazer on Mar 29, 2013

What an odd perspective to hold on the world around you.

Those who use a service need to pay for the service; roads and bridges.

Actually, EV drivers need to pay a significantly higher road tax than diesel vehicle drivers as the batteries result in more weight, therefore more damage to the road.

May I suggest you review this article and catch up with our future?

http://etcgreen.com/general/ev-tech-postmortem

Steve Frazer's picture
Steve Frazer on Mar 29, 2013

The American car buyer ultimately understood the issues as the Volt production plant shutdown (though I am embarrassed for all those poor souls who spoke well of the Volt in the commercials).

When a plug-in Hybrid’s battery runs low, the liquid fuel engine kicks in and at that point, that engine has to also move hundreds of pounds of dead battery. Even worse, if the on-board computer is set to recharge the battery, then the engine is moving the car, its contents, the dead battery and recharging the battery. To apply this energy model to the Chevy Volt, the battery with structural framework and recharging electronics weighs over 700lbs. So when that battery runs out of power, the vehicle in recharging mode will achieve about 24mppg (Miles Per Petroleum Gallon). If not in recharging mode, the vehicle achieves about 36mppg. Why not drive an advanced 4 door sedan diesel powered vehicle that is engineered to run B100 and achieves 45mpbg (Miles Per Biodiesel Gallon) and never use any petroleum sourced fuel? This is more Green by some factor. ETC Green’s AWD, full-sized SUV, Jeep Grand Cherokees achieve 52mppg, provide lower emissions than a Toyota Prius and we never have to plug them in.

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Mar 29, 2013

Hi Steve:

As long as we are wishing – I wished I had a Series Hydraulic Hybrid.  The reason is that a hydraulic hybrid if they existed, would have the potential of costing about $10,000 less than vehicles with battery packs.  

Oh and did I mention that the engine I want in my vehicle would have about 45 h.p.  To explain why, please read the following link.

http://energy.typepad.com/the-energy-blog/2010/03/a-200-mile-per-gallon-...

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 29, 2013

Steve, I had to read no farther than “current generation EV technologies are still far from viable per a list of issues” to see this article is nonsense.

I’ve been the owner of three electric vehicles and they’re not only viable, they’re clean, inexpensive, and weigh almost exactly the same as comparable gasoline vehicles (Leaf curb weight 3,354lbs, Honda Accord 3,358lbs).

The only way the current system would make sense is if everyone’s vehicle was equally efficient and equally damaging to the road. That’s never been the case, and it pits fuel efficiency against highway budgets when there’s no need to do so. Not to mention there’s no good solution to measuring mileage for EVs, and EV drivers are certainly not going to put up with being tracked everywhere they go.

Tell you what: I’ll pay an annual fee, if you’ll (excuse the pun) cough up your share of the $18B in annual medical costs attributed to emissions from internal combustion engines (diesel being among the worst offenders).

Your imaginary future is a misconception that’s been outdated for ten years.

Steve Frazer's picture
Steve Frazer on Mar 30, 2013

Bob,

Speaking for my entire team of environmental engineers, we thank you for your good intentions.

However, you are the victim of a great deal of marketing hype. Please read the article. It is exhaustively researched.

Replacing liquid fueled vehicles with electric powered vehicles directly increases the most health impacting emission particulates into the air and our oceans – heavy metals from coal burning power plants. So while the over-all volume of emissions from EV’s is lower than gasoline and petroleum diesel vehicles, US power plants are significantly if not still primarily coal powered and so an increase in electricity generation for EV’s is worse from a health perspective than emissions from 2nd generation feedstock sourced biodiesel powered vehicles by 3 orders of magnitude (the emissions of one EV that is recharged from a coal powered plant have a greater negative health impact than thousands of advanced diesel vehicles burning B100). Very simply, until EV’s are only charged from renewable sources, they will be the direct catalyst for the health issues and deaths of many more people. Please consider a migration to EV’s shifts the pollution from a highly regulated, very low emission source, the car engine, to one that is much less regulated and much more polluting in most cases. It’s a poor, uninformed choice for a true environmentalist.

….and we run our vehicles on 2nd generation feedstock sourced biodiesel – so, no sir, your EV has the potential (variable power source – Worst Case Mode) of creating 1,000x more emissions than our full-sized, AWD, SUV’s and trucks.

The U.S. EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality uses a testing method labeled, “worst case mode” to determine the true emissions of any vehicle. To explain the basic premise by example: Consider a diesel powered vehicle that will run on B100 with emissions of “X”. As with all vehicles operating on U.S. roads, it must be tested for its EPA emission certification. If this vehicle has the potential of running on petro diesel, then the EPA will only test and rate the emissions of that vehicle as if the vehicle would only be operated on petro diesel which would present far less desirable emissions ratings (B100 burns 87% cleaner than petro diesel before additives – 97% cleaner with additives). These undesirable petroleum sourced fuel emissions test results dictate the EPA requires an emissions control system for this diesel vehicle – based on the petroleum diesel only emission tests. Actually no B100 fuel emissions testing is ever performed. This “worst case mode” model has cost the U.S. public in the range of $2T in the purchase of higher volumes of fuel over the past 10 years in that the rest of the world’s industrialized nations migrated to diesel and adopted biodiesel fuel mandates over a decade ago and this “worse case mode” regulation has kept the U.S. primarily on gasoline.

To apply this “worst case mode” model to an EV and plug-in hybrid as the regulations require, the emissions of an EV are based on the energy generation source. Since EV’s are mobile, their emissions per this EPA methodology must only be rated as if the electricity generated for that EV (not limited to the electricity delivered) is sourced from the worst emitting coal plant in the U.S..

My credentials?

Undergrad/Grad in Stat Analysis/Modeling
6 years with DoD as an Analysis
2 years with the largest Electric Utility in the U.S. as an Analysis
4 years with DoE as an Analysis
6 years at 2 major universities as a Research Engineer
5 years as CEO of renewable energy corp

Steve Frazer's picture
Steve Frazer on Mar 30, 2013

Thomas – Wishing?

http://etcgreen.com/blog/general/etc-green-crd-jeep-performance

http://etcgreen.com/biofuel/jeep-to-offer-diesel-in-u-s-for-2013-models

http://etcgreen.com/biofuel/chrylser-is-making-history-2013-ram-1500-diesel

If you believe the issue is the availability of the 2nd generation feedstock biodiesel. We have 374,000 acres in management and taking orders at $1.50/gallon at a profit and we are not alone.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 30, 2013

Steve, thanks for your reply, but I can go down a list of how every point is fallacious:

1) There will never be a complete replacement of internal combustion for electric – ever. Electric vehicle proponents know that, so this is a red herring. The grid is capable of replacing 75% of our automotive fleet with electric vehicles – right now.

2) My electric vehicle costs $.04/mile. Biofuel miles cost twice as much.

3) I’m not sure what your point is here, but electric vehicles don’t require wind, they don’t require solar. They require any method that generates electricity. Every method is getting cleaner as time goes by; so while a diesel engine (biofuel or petroleum) gets dirtier and wear and tear take their toll, electric cars get cleaner.

4) This is hypothetical grasping at straws that I really can’t comment on, although your implication that a $5,000 on-board computer would need to be periodically replaced is just silly – and the bias doesn’t help your argument.

5) “If we compare charging an EV or Plug-in hybrid to filling a car with liquid fuel…” – is a restatement of The Myth of the Necessary Recharging Infrastructure. EV owners don’t use them (I’ve used public stations twice) and I get by with my Leaf for about 90% of my driving. EVs are recharged at night, at home. It’s not a liquid fuel mindset. For driving longer distances they’re not necessary for anyone who can afford a Tesla Model S, and with Li-Ion battery prices plummeting they’ll be a practical cost-effective solution for anyone in five years.

Etc.

You claim I’m a victim of “marketing hype” even though I’ve built, bought, and driven three different EVs. My conversion was featured on the local NBC affiliate in 2009, after which Nissan contacted me about product evaluation on the Leaf. I know their shortcomings inside and out, and I know their benefits. Your comments about EV weight etc. reveal a lot of the “common knowledge” which hasn’t been accurate for years, so I would urge you to find one, drive it, and then perhaps present a more educated opinion. There are a lot of opinions about the current explosion of energy and transportation technologies, but given the current state of EV development and projections for the future – if you want to take on electric vehicles you have your work cut out for you.

Steve Frazer's picture
Steve Frazer on Mar 30, 2013

Again, we respect your good intentions, but your information is far from reality. We are engineers, several of whom also hold MBA’s in Finance and Economics. We have an Aerospace Division and build aircraft for the government. We have a Mining Division and hold 57 mining claims and maintain Federal Mining ID’s and MSHA safety standards in adverse conditions. We are serious people.

1. The U.S. grid has 4 basic components: source generation, transmission, power distribution units (PDU/sub-stations) and target customers. While it is true the source generation may be able to support possibly a 100% EV migration today, the transmission, PDU network and customer service lines would have to be upgraded – as yours likely was when you installed your high capacity charger. There is a section about this in the article – the price tag is estimated at $14T.

2. Why would you make such a statement to suggest any 4 wheeled, enclosed vehicle cost only $.04/mile to operate. The cost per/mile of any vehicle includes the purchase price, taxes, insurance, maintenance, fuel costs, recycling costs, (subtract the fair market value) all divided by the number of miles traveled in the vehicle. Sorry to be the one to break the news, but studies show that a Leaf is running about $.85/mile at the end of its life cycle (est. 130,000miles) while a VW Passat will cost about $.22/mile at the end of its life cycle (est. 300,000miles). Your EV will cost about 4x as much as a comparable advanced diesel vehicle.

3. An EV uses 2x – 10,000x the amount of rare earth and heavy metals (we have compiled the matrix) than an advanced diesel vehicle. This is unsustainable, the impact to the planet is staggering, the Chinese death toll to support this effort is horrific, the coal emissions to recharge EV’s is 1,000x that of an advanced diesel running biodiesel from 2nd generation feedstock, …

4. Computers for EV are still a specialty control system on a limited number of vehicles. While advanced diesel computers have matured from the sale of over a hundred million vehicles already. EV’s and plug-in hybrids experience mass electrical failures which require the replacement of this on-board computer. Over 300 replacements are documented in our research records.

5. In this case, your specific private vehicle transportation needs are not in-line with the general public and we salute your choice of lifestyle. An advanced diesel such as a VW Passat has a range of over 800miles per tank if you feel trapped by the limited range of your Leaf.

It is not a matter of “taking on” EV’s, it is a matter of accurate information to the public about EV’s. If your EV works for you, it is a free country, but the information you are publishing is simply incorrect and you need to better research the reality of EV’s. If environmental issues are important than you will stop driving an EV very quickly when you realize the impact of your purchase. If you find yourself in the southern Nevada area, look us up, be happy to educate as to the future of transportation in the world.

Join the Migration – http://etcgreen.com U.S. Migration

Thomas Garven's picture
Thomas Garven on Mar 30, 2013

Hi Steve:

I have enjoyed my Dodge Ram Turbo Diesel [5.9] for about the last 12 years.  Average highway mileage for my one ton dually is about 18 mpg @ 70 mph running empty.  Use it mostly for towing my 5th wheel trailer in the summer.  

Would gladly run some bio-diesel if it was available in my small Western Arizona town.  

Have a great day.    

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 30, 2013

Steve, every statistic you mention is wildly exaggerated from what I’ve found in online peer-reviewed studies.

Your online discussion technique is unusual. You ask your readers to blindly accept the avalanche of statistical information you provide, without one reference but those to your own website. As a scientist, you know that’s not how scientific argument works, even informally. You may very well be “serious” but without some external references – links to outside sources – claims on the internet, of any kind, aren’t worth a lot.

At one point I was quite enthusiastic about biofuels, but the more I learned about the the net energy balance they didn’t make sense. I felt my views were somewhat validated by this 2012 paper published by Hartmut Michel, a Nobel-prizewinning chemist at the Max Planck Institute, titled (in characteristically blunt German fashion) “The Nonsense of Biofuels”. His basic premise is that taken as a whole, conversion efficiency of sunlight to usable chemical energy in biofuels for commonly used technologies is extremely low.

For German “biodiesel” which is based on rapeseed, it is less than 0.1%, for bioethanol less than 0.2%, and for biogas around 0.3%…

… these values even do not take into account that more than 50% of the energy stored in the biofuel had to be invested in order to obtain the biomass (for producing fertilizers and pesticides, for ploughing the fields, for transport) and the chemical conversion into the respective biofuel.

Biofuels of all stripes put a great burden on arable land.  He says:

Taken together, the production of biofuels constitutes an extremely inefficient land use. This statement is true also for the production of bioethanol from sugar cane in Brazil.

I would love to hear your opinion of why Michel is wrong, but I’m only interested if you can avoid hyperbole and provide peer-reviewed references to back up your point of view.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 31, 2013

Willem, you’re confusing EV’s (battery electric vehicles) with plug-in hybrids. The Chevy Volt, while an ingenious piece of engineering, would have Occam and his razor gravespinning with its awkward attempt to patch the problem of early EVs’ limited range. The Volt was a stopgap measure by Bob Lutz to keep GM in the game; their Spark EV enters the American market next year and shows promise.

Whether current EV subsidies are excessive is a political question, but whether they’ve been a bridge to making Li-Ion more affordable is undeniable. GM has already hinted that serial hybrids don’t have much of a future, but that doesn’t mean subsidies haven’t already borne fruit:

“..the Spark could help justify GM’s earlier investments. Its electric powertrain, which will be manufactured in Maryland, borrows heavily from the Volt. GM engineers tinkered with the design to achieve more horsepower and faster acceleration.”

Your post:

“…it will be much easier/quicker/less costly to design and build 50-60 MPG gasoline/diesel vehicles than to improve the litium-ion batteries an equivalent amount, per American Physical Society…

Do you have a reference to the American Physical Society document where this claim is made?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 31, 2013

Thanks Willem, it seems this is the opinion of a writer for the APS website and not the opinion of the organization. That’s why I ask for references, it would be easy to interpret your attribution that way.

I’ll challenge his interpretation. Though we are up against some physical limits of energy density with lithium-ion, the price is expected to be cut in half in the next ten years due to a manufacturing buildout. That’s taking any kind of alternate chemistries off the board – of which there are many.

How do you arrive at a few trillion dollars and decades “to significantly reduce the CO2 intensity of the US grid” when it’s predicted to fall 5.5% in 2013 alone (12% carbon reduction in coal sector; 6.5% increase in natural gas)?

I K's picture
I K on Mar 31, 2013

Not sure about the USA but here in the UK you would not need any new power stations or lines to power EVs.

Our grid is capable of outputting over 1,500GWh a day while winter demand seldom goes much over 1,000GWh. The difference of 500GWh is more than enough to convert all 30 million of our vehicles to EVs without the need to build any additional infrastructure.

Problem is EVs are not really more energy efficient than modern diesels so there is no real reason for a mass conversion.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 31, 2013

IK, electric vehicles convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels—conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17–21%, and the best modern automotive diesel engine tops out at about 45%. With electrical transmission line losses of 8%, that makes EVs’ net efficiency 8% better than diesel (this is ignoring the the inefficiencies of distributing diesel fuel to 50,000 service stations across the U.S., but we won’t quibble).

Driving  an EV in an area in which the Independent System Operator (ISO) can choose between power sources, and with a clean power mix (in CA 1% of electrical power comes from coal, 49% from natural gas, and the rest from carbon-free sources) puts your far below diesel in CO2 output. Because natural gas creates 28% less CO2 than diesel and all but 1% of the rest of CA’s power mix is carbon-free, driving an EV in California creates roughly 90% less CO2 than diesel.

We haven’t touched on the subject of the health effects of burning diesel fuel, but it’s thought to account for over one quarter of the total hazardous pollution in the air, and a disproportionately high share of the load of sickness and death caused by pollution.

I K's picture
I K on Mar 31, 2013

Bob, EVs may convert 59-62% of the electricity from your socket to the wheels as per your link, but before that electricity gets to your socket it 35-55% efficient.

Take 45% average…45% of 60% = 27% overall

And as you say a modern diesel is ~45% so will use overall less energy than a EV

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 31, 2013

IK “before that electricity gets to the socket” is vague.

What efficiencies are you referring to? I’ve included everything up to that point in my fuels assessment.

Links are welcome.

On edit: this from the New York Times:

On Electric Vehicle Incentives, Diesel Defenders Cry Foul

“…To support its position, the coalition cited a study published by M.I.T. in April 2008 that compared the energy efficiency and emissions of next-generation diesel and gasoline engines to those of next-generation hybrids and battery-powered electric vehicles. The study concluded that the gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles came within 10 to 15 percent of their competitors in both categories.

The coalition, however, did not cite factors used in the study to determine the type or amount of energy consumed during charging of the E.V.’s or emissions generated by the utilities that produced the energy. Emissions generated during energy production and resources consumed can vary, as utilities in many states are required to add clean, sustainable energy resources to their portfolios; data that is accurate today may not be representative of the grid of tomorrow. Meanwhile, battery technology has advanced in the intervening years since the M.I.T. study was published.”

I K's picture
I K on Mar 31, 2013

The most efficient power stations are modern 60% CCGTs. You will then have at least a 3% loss assuming a dedicated high voltage line to your chagrining point. Chagrining and discharging loss in the region of 5% and finally your EV motor will be at most ~92%

So you have as a best case 60% x 97% x 95% x 92% = 51% that is the maximum chemical energy to kinetic energy you will get in an optimal case.

If you take a more realistic case with ramping CCGTs at ~48% efficiency, you charge the EV at home encoring a 12% grid loss, you still have the 5% charge/discharge and 92% motor

48% x 88% x 95% x 92% = 36.9%  So somewhere between 37% and 50% efficiency with the former more realistic and the latter as best case. Actually this is being quite generations because any additional load onto a grid is meet by marginal power stations which will not be the best, not be the average, but somewhat lower than the average.

Obviously if you are powered by coal it is even lower, closer to 29%  By comparison, what will a modern diesel engine be at in 2020? Approaching 50% efficiency?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 31, 2013

IK, I have no idea where you’re getting your figures from but the U.S. Energy Information Administration says grid losses are less than half of what you’re claiming:

“Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 6.6% in 1997[10] and 6.5% in 2007.”

I’ve noticed a chilling effect on bold claims made in this thread when I ask contributors to provide references. Do you have any to back up yours?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 31, 2013

Willem, please see my reply as a reply to the original thread.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 1, 2013

(in response to comment by Willem Post below)

Willem, I have read your articles but on that point you’re mistaken.

Although it’s very possible for energy to be transmitted via the grid, at the speed of light and across thousands of miles as you say, independent system operators choose via switching which sources will provide their particular energy mix.

“DIfferent Regions Use Different Fuels

Electric generation fuel mixes vary from state to state and region to region, depending upon the availability and cost of fuels located there. Major changes in the generation mix can have economic and reliability impacts, especially on a regional basis.”

http://www.getenergyactive.org/fuel/state.htm

“Current policies demonstrate that California is at the forefront of advancing renewable resource development. In the next few years, the state requires that electricity providers serve 20 percent of their retail load from renewable resources. Statewide, greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. At the same time, California recognizes the importance of maintaining reliable electric service for consumers, which is primarily the responsibility of the California Independent System Operator Corporation (California ISO).”

Central California Clean Energy Transmission Project

I K's picture
I K on Apr 1, 2013

Grid loss is not uniform it varies for everyone,

However typically factories and industry will have the lowest losses since often they are connected to the higher voltage distribution grid and may use higher voltages directly.

Residential buildings on the other hand typically have the worst losses since they are not only on the low voltage system but may be quite far from their transformers which took the higher voltage and turned it to lower voltage.

And then you have everyone else in between.

So 6.5% loss may be your average, that does not mean its 6.5% for everyone. Big users directly connected to HV will be closer to 3% while residentials on the LV will be closer to 12%.

Either way what does it matter, the biggest loss in the EV story is the first step. From chemical energy to electricity energy in you coal or gas stations. Varying from 38% to 60%.

I K's picture
I K on Apr 1, 2013

The mistake of EV cheer leaders was to compare ICE technology 20 years ago to potential EV technology that might be here in 20 years time ignoring the fact that ICE would have improved in that time while EVs will not markidly since they are already at or near their limits.

An ICE today can achieve over 45% efficacy. This will rise to at least 50% if not more since larger low speed diesel engines NOW achieve over 54% so its just a matter of the technology being implemented in smaller ICE.

So how efficient are EVs today. Well you have
~12% loss in the grid to your home
~5% to charge and then discharge your batteries
~92% efficient electric motor.
You can not easily improve these they are all old tech which have been pushed to the limits. EVs might be new but electric motors are old and greatly outnumber ICE so electric motors have had lots of R&D.

The most important factor is, what is chagrining your EV. Marginal charging will be from a less than average efficiency gas or coal plant. The average CCGT is under 49% is the USA with the average coal unit at 38%.  Assuming you charge by gas  49% x 88% x 95% x 92% = 37.7% chemical to kinetic efficiency

Best in class in 10 years time might be, 62% efficient CCGT and the rest remain about the same to give you 47.7% chemical to kinetic efficiency.  While we know is that ICEs are heading to over 50%   So an EV is not more energy efficient today nor is it likely to be in 10 or 20 years time.

Steve Frazer's picture
Steve Frazer on Apr 1, 2013

Bob – please forgive the delay, I run 7 firms on 4 continents.

The other thread became too thin, but the comments contain your references vs. the references of others. I did not see any reference to start/stop technology for advanced diesel, EV power needs to consider power generation + fuel + impact from facility construction and also, there is no reference to 2nd generation feedstock off-sets – advanced diesel engines running 2nd generation feedstock sourced biodiesel are CO2 emission negative. Actually, there are labs suggesting that advanced diesel engines running 2nd generation feedstock with additives could clean the air while running within the coming years.

Briefly, let’s talk solar arrays. The necessary solar array scale to power a 30% EV migration is, well, ridiculous. Even the vast majority of CA is a poor choice for solar panel arrays due to humidity based on the inconceivably massive volume of rare earth and heavy metals required to manufacturer these solar panels. ALL arrays should be installed in

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