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Electric vehicles x gasoline

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Consultant energy affairs Self employed

Rafael Herzberg- is an independent energy consultant, self-employed (since 2018) based in São Paulo, Brazil* Focus on C level, VPs and upper managers associated to energy related info, analysis...

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Electric vehicles x gasoline

Electric vehicles make perfect sense if they are powered by renewable sources such as hydraulic, solar and wind.

A 50 kWh battery allows a medium-sized electric car to travel 300 km (200 miles). In other words, it makes 6 km/kWh.

A gasoline-equivalent car does 10 km/liter. The lower calorific value of gasoline is 8.4 kWh/litre. This results in 1.2 km/kWh.

If the battery is charged using an open-cycle thermal power plant, its efficiency is 30%. Taking into account the transmission and distribution losses and power theft (more than 10% of all supply in Brazil), it comes to 20%. So, what was 6 km/kWh ends up being 1.2 km/kWh.

Converting our current fleet to electric makes sense if renewable sources are used to charge the batteries. Or at least the biggest chunk of the power matrix.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 28, 2021

These are important calculations to track, as are the footprint of EV materials vs. ICE cars. All studies I've seen look deep into this do confirm that EVs are a net positive in both regards in most locations, though you're right the power mix of a given region will directly impact that. I know the last pockets of the U.S. where EV emissions per mile weren't an improvement over ICE were ones with the highest levels of coal, but those grids have since shifted towards cleaner sources enough to flip the script-- and that's the other important part to remember regarding EVs: gasoline powered cars have their emissions per mile locked in, but for EVs they will only get cleaner the more time goes on and the grid becomes less carbon intensive. So the same EV plugged in anew today vs. the car still running in 10 years plugging into the same grid will naturally become even cleaner over that time!

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Sep 28, 2021

Sure Matt! Anyway in rough numbers the energy efficiency - these days - of an EV is 80% while an ICE is 20%. Both - with the ongoing technology - do not have a lot of room for improvement because now we are talking about the inherent conversion processes. So my discussion (post) was basically to address the need to take very good care of the way we produce electricity to run our EVs because ultimately this is what will drive overall emissions.

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