UP in Smoke

Global emissions continue to increase exponentially and do not show signs of decreasing anytime in the future. Economic activities that lead to global greenhouse gas emissions can be broken down by electricity production, agriculture land use, industry, transportation and buildings. Transportation is one of the largest sectors leading to the high volumes of the United States greenhouse gas emissions.

With the electric vehicle production increasing tremendously throughout the US and world, the potential for reducing transportation emissions compared to previous years is high. Many states are increasing incentives to spike purchases of these zero-emission vehicles. As recent as this month, August 2017, California is seeking to boost their electric vehicle rebate program substantially. Legislature is pushing forward a bill that would more than triple the state of California’s current rebate of $2,500 to under $10,000 for EV purchasers. For example, one could (after EV rebate) purchase a Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Bolt for the same price as a gas powered Honda Civic. With this increase in incentive, California is looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to a level of 40 percent below what they were in the 1990s.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.14.50 PM

While we know that transportation is an achilles heal for the overall carbon footprint, there is a lot of progress to be made due to evolving vehicle types and functionalities.  How reasonable is it for states to increase incentives to boost electric vehicle sales? How much of an incentive would it take for you to purchase a zero emission vehicle? What are the leading reasons for why more people haven’t already purchased an electric vehicle?

Global Emissions

California Rebate Program

US Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “UP in Smoke

  1. Switching to electric vehicles would definitely help decrease the CO2 emissions, but even with all the incentives California offers I wonder if that would be enough.I don’t believe many Americans would be willing to give up their truck or other gas vehicle to help the environment without more of an incentive than just making the EV’s cheaper. Perhaps the government should approach this the same way we discussed in chapter 3, from a moral standpoint. If people can see the damage the CO2 levels are doing to the ecosystem, maybe there will be a chance for change.

    Like

  2. I had a friend who had an electric vehicle a few years back, and she said that a few of the problems with it were the car’s inability to drive long distances, the lack of charging stations, and that they are not always as aesthetically pleasing. From her standpoint, it was almost inconvenient to have a fully electric vehicle. I do not believe that America currently has the correct infrastructure in place to immediately push for completely electric transportation (gas stations everywhere but comparatively few charging stations), but I do believe that it would be beneficial to urge people to at least switch to a hybrid vehicle. The carbon gap between a gas only and a hybrid is 177 grams, whereas the gap between a hybrid and an electric vehicle is only 60 more grams (237 grams from gas only), so either switch would be very beneficial. I think if car manufacturers were willing to really push hybrids, and move towards only producing those, would pave an easier path for electric vehicles in the future.

    Like

  3. It is promising to see more EVs on the road, and the fact that many car companies are realizing that the future market for EVs will be even greater and are beginning to invest more money into producing EVs is another good sign. But like others mentioned above, the inability to drive long distances is a serious inconvenience. I drove my parents’ leaf this summer and it had a maximum range of 93 miles. That means that really the only thing I could do was to drive to work and to a friends house. I took multiple road trips to the lake and wasn’t able to take the leaf out of fear of running out of charge. A lack of charging stations and the slow charging capabilities of the chargers makes trips with an EV very difficult to pull off, unless you’re in a Tesla. Tesla’s have driving ranges of over 200 miles and there are Tesla specific SuperCharger stations than can charge the car very quickly. The Tesla also has a navigation system that can map your trip based on the locations of charging stations. Until all EVs have driving ranges and technological capabilites similar to Tesla, and can be bought at an affordable price, I do not see EVs pushing out gas powered vehicles. I do not see an average joe trading personal convenience for a more eco-friendly car.

    Like

  4. I think the EV initiative is a major example of offsetting impact to other locations. From a thermodynamic standpoint, one conversion of energy (gasoline to rotational in the wheels) is way more efficient than multiple conversions (Fuel to heat to chemical in steam to kinetic of turbine to electrical to rotational). Based off of second law efficiency, an EV would consume more fossil resource (assuming electricity is generated from fossil fuel) to create the same amount of kinetic energy to move the vehicle, therefore more carbon emission as well. An EV offsets the carbon emission to the power plant, instead of emitting it out of the tailpipe. The public would see EVs as a great environmental feat because carbon emission would be offset to industry rather than the individual, however switching to electric transportation could ultimately be worse with regard to overall GHG emission. It would all depend on the method of electricity generation.

    Like

  5. I think that EVs are a great solution to reducing CO2 emissions (as long as the electricity using to power the vehicle is not producing similar levels of emissions, as Chase mentioned). Something else to consider about the transition to electric vehicles and increased fuel efficiency in cars in general is the decrease in gas tax revenue. This revenue is a major source of funding for state and local governments to maintain road infrastructure. With this gradual transition away from gasoline powered cars, there may need to be new ways for governments to get funding from car owners to maintain our highways and roads.

    Like

  6. I believe that Tesla Motors is at the forefront of EV. But Tesla isn’t really a car company, its a battery company. I think that Elon Musk understands this. EVs are held back by the technology of their batteries; limited range, charging times, price, etc. Musk understands the to make EVs comparable to combustion engine cars, the technology must be present. Which is why he pours money into battery technology (Gigafactory, Powerwall). But I think that traditional automotive companies that sell EVs do not realize this. They are trying to market and sell EVs like traditional automobiles. I believe that until battery technology has progressed, EVs will not compete with traditional vehicles in America.

    Like

  7. Yes, I believe that EVs are a good idea but like any other form of transportation it has its pros and cons. When comparing CO2 emissions of EVs to traditional vehicles yes there is a drastic difference, but EVs are not for everyone. For example I am from a rural town in Southeast Georgia, for me purchasing or owning an EV would not be a practical idea, even if Georgia had or increased incentives to purchase them. I say this because if you ride through rural south Georgia you will not see any charging stations for these types of vehicles. For this to be a practical idea for everyone engineers would need to come up with a better longer lasting battery that would allow for people in rural areas to not have to worry about planning their outings to places/towns that have EV charging stations. And like John, I agree EVs will not be able to compete with traditional vehicles until are substantial improvements made to the technology of their batteries.

    Like

  8. I agree that a rise in electric vehicles would be the best way to reduce our carbon emissions in transportation. I recently saw an article about a car that has an 8% higher efficiency than electric powered vehicles by utilizing wind turbines on the side fenders and grill and causing those turbines to create energy much like a hydroelectric dam. This charges the vehicle while you are driving at high speeds. Obviously this would not be beneficial in cities because there is not enough high speed travel. Do you know if there are any initiatives being put forth to fund more research into alternative methods such as this?

    Like

  9. I think that electric vehicles are great for their environmental and economic benefits. However, one aspect not mentioned in this article is that environmental impact of the production of EV vehicles. During the mid 2000’s, when the Toyota Prius was spiking in popularity, a statistic was released that the production of the Prius’ battery alone had the same environmental impact as driving a Hummer H2 for 15 years (due to long distance shipping back and forth to Japan for various phases of assembly and testing). Thus eliminating the environmental benefit. With Tesla arising as a front-running competitor, I believe that the emissions issues pertaining to vehicle production will be significantly reduced if not eliminated, since they will all be produced in the United States.

    Like

  10. As others have mentioned the EV often simply pass on the emissions from the tailpipe of the car to the power plant producing the electricity. If the energy is having to undergo conversions from the power plant, then transmitting through power lines, then into the battery, and then finally converting it into work, I wonder how much energy is lost along the way as opposed to converting the chemical energy to work in the car itself. If the electricity is coming from renewable means I can see how it decreases emissions, but if the power production process is using natural gas or especially coal I imagine its probably less efficient overall. Hybrid or not you cant escape the energy needs of a car. Furthermore, the process of producing the batteries for electric and hybrid cars is extremely dirty and harmful to the environment, and the batteries don’t last a lifetime, so I would be curious to see a full analysis on the carbon footprint of producing, powering, and maintaining a conventional car vs. a hybrid or fully electric car.

    Like

  11. I think electric vehicles are a great way to reduce emissions and I do believe that incentives nation wide would help in some states. However, eliminating gas powered vehicles also virtually eliminates the need for U.S. oil refineries. In turn, eliminating jobs.

    Like

    1. The transition towards EV vehicles is a positive step in the direction of curbing CO2 emissions from vehicles, however this debate is quick to overlook the fact of where these EV are actually getting their power from. Yes the direct emissions from tail pipe to atmosphere are minuscule, but if we are generating the electricity to power these vehicles from oil and other fossil fuels, the “CO2 savings” are almost cancelled out. I believe that one of the largest factors driving our dependency on gas vehicles is our transportation infrastructure. I feel like more emissions would be saved if we designed more efficient and bike-friendly roads which would encourage the use of public transportation or other non-emitting forms of commuting.

      Like

  12. I would also like to second one person’s comment that battery production can cost a lot of energy. However, the statistics cited (one Prius battery costs as much energy as 15 years of driving a regular car) are quite outdated; technology has improved so much. Many factors raise questions to the precision of studies comparing battery production to gas emissions of a regular car. For one, what mileage and care are we assuming for the car? That has a significant impact on the “life usage” noted. Furthermore, studies don’t account for the cost of transportation of gasoline, only the direct emissions from using the fuel. The massive infrastructure behind drilling and refinery costs a lot. I do agree that people herald EVs as a game-changer. The fact is, all energy has to be made, and electricity just shifts emissions to power plants. I think the only real solution here is to reduce usage. I advocate for more investment into public transportation systems. EVs can take charge there too– I know UGA has made a commitment to replace our oldest buses with electric buses. We are too far from a fully renewable portfolio to waste so much energy with our privileged lifestyles.

    Like

  13. Green house gas emissions are a serious concern that we need to address now. As you mentioned, one of the major polluters is the transportation industry. One way to combat this is to increase incentives for electric vehicles. This is very reasonable but I don’t believe it fixes the issue. I believe a better alternative would be to get people to use cars less and carpool more. These electric cars are better, but if theres a ton of these driving around then we will still be polluting a lot. I think the main reason people haven’t bought into electric cars is because they aren’t very attractive right now and are quite expensive. We are just starting to see a decrease in the price of electric vehicles and possibly will see more buyers.

    Like

  14. I think the rise of electric vehicles has been a positive thing to the environment; however, I believe there are still some flaws with them and it is not ideal for everyone. My dad actually leased a Nissan leaf a couple years ago due to his 2+ hour commute to work everyday. The main reason for his lease was to test out the car before deciding to purchase, tax incentives, and not having to fill the gas tank every 2-3 days. Overall, I would say he has been pleased with the lease; however, it was not enough for him to purchase it. Some of the disadvantages would have to be: not being the prettiest of vehicles, not enough charging stations, the time associated with charging, and not enough miles to make long trips (100+ miles). Although, electric cars are a positive thing, I believe there needs to be a lot of improvements before people will actually switch to electric completely.

    Like

  15. The Tesla Model S is an amazing car. In many ways I think that this car has opened up the minds of people as to what EVs can look like and how they can preform. From my experience, before the Model S, an EV was a slow, ugly car that was an inconvenience to own. This car totally changed my perspective on this. If there were more cars out there like the Model S, but maybe dialed back the “luxuryness” to cut costs, I could see many more people changing their minds about EVs. Once people show that their minds have changed, it will be time for the government, or the private sector in some way, to pony up and install the infrastructure that the U.S. would need to support a higher volume of EVs.

    Like

  16. I’m really glad someone wrote about this because this is an environmental issue I have been back and forth with in my head that I stumbled upon while reading the textbook for this class. In Chapter 2, it brought up Maryland giving tax breaks to those who had hybrid or totally electric cars. At first, this seems like a great idea. Give people a tax break, or in California’s case a rebate, to make the economic burden of buying a vehicle that runs partially work fully on electricity therefore decreasing carbon dioxide emissions. More people are convinced to drive electric vehicles and the world is a better place right? Now, that’s where I think it gets tricky. While the car itself is emitting less carbon dioxide, how much carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere when the electricity was made? I think it’s that combined with the huge loss of energy every time energy is converted that makes this a hairy situation, and something that needs to be thoroughly researched and evaluated before a bunch of people get electric cars, and it ends up not helping and possibly harming the earth and its environment.

    Like

  17. Great post! I believe this is a very relevant topic that affects us all. I think three of the biggest factors that are preventing people from purchasing electric vehicles are the over visual appeal of the vehicle, the range of the vehicle, and the cost of the vehicle. One company that I believe is addressing these three issues is Tesla. They make very attractive cars that have significantly better range than many of their competitors. With their latest car, the Model 3, they are also addressing the issue of price as well. I believe the cost of electric cars will continue to drop as the technology used in the cars becomes more common. Hopefully this will lead to more EVs on the road.

    Like

  18. My thoughts on an EV incentive is that it should be based on the state energy profile. States like California with a higher renewable portfolio should be able to offer greater incentives due to lower emissions from electricity production from local power sources. There are concerns with not as many charging stations being available as gas stations, but the economics aren’t quite there for more charging stations until more people swap to electric vehicles. Creating more charging stations can also be seen as free advertising for electric vehicle models.

    Like

  19. My family has owned an EV in the past for a couple of years. I had no problems with the vehicle and I felt as if its performance was overall really impressive. It was also convenient to plug my vehicle in at the end of each night and have it ready to drive the next day. On the other hand, I agree that vehicles such as the Nissan leaf, has problems with range. While driving an EV, you really have to take your driving style into consideration. You have to be more frugal with the AC and you cannot be heavy footed when accelerating because it will increase the battery use. Charging also took a while. If I remember correctly, the model we owned charged 4 miles in one hour. You can technically upgrade your battery or charging cable to a speed charger one but that is just more money coming out of the consumer’s pocket. I think EVs can be a great alternative once public charging stations become more popular and when the speed of charging becomes faster.

    It is also important to note that these cars do not come without a cost. Though they do not burn on fossil fuels, the batteries and other components had to be mined and processed.

    Like

  20. While I myself would not need much of an incentive to purchase an electric vehicle, I know several people who would never buy an electric vehicle. Some reasons they would not is that they prefer the sound of the engine of a gas-powered vehicle as well as the smoothness of drive. Tesla has confronted one of these problems by artificially providing a sound of a gas-powered engine in their electric vehicles so that they “feel more like a car.” Another problem that must be tackled if electric vehicles are to have a large impact on the US’s carbon emissions is that of where the electricity to charge the vehicles is sourced. While California leads in producing their own renewable energy and promoting electric vehicles, they also import a good percentage of their energy from coal plants from surrounding states. While I believe that promoting electric vehicles is a step in the right direction, if the electricity used to charge the vehicles is produced using fossil fuels, then how much change has really been accomplished?

    Like

  21. This is an interesting article! I think more people should switch to electric powered vehicles for the sake of cutting back on the emissions of CO2. I know the UK has passed a law that is going to prohibit diesel and petroleum powered cars. An initiative of this sort would benefit the U.S in getting more people to switch to electrical cars.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s