A few weeks ago, I asked just how energy efficient electric cars really are because it seemed to me that, as is the case with pre-packaged meat at the supermarket, all the dirty stuff is happening behind the scenes:
People hostile to American consumerism (that would be the AGW/Green crowd), as well as vegetarians and PETA people (often the same people as the AGW/Green crowd), like to point out that Americans, by buying their meat neatly packaged at the grocery store can ignore the living, breathing animal behind that ready-to-cook slab of meat. They can also ignore the slaughtering process, and the slicing and dicing that follows slaughter. American consumers are also mercifully separated from the pollution that the whole meat industry creates, whether at the farm end or in the abattoir.
With that in mind, can someone explain to me cars that are entirely electric, such as the Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf. Hybrid cars create their own electricity, but these 100% electric cars need to be plugged into an outlet, in exactly the same way as that energy sucking computer or electric dryer.
Sure the cars run clean at the car end, but aren’t they the car equivalent of packaged meat? The electricity that powers them has to come from somewhere and, unless you can tell me otherwise, I’m assuming it comes from coal or fuel burning power plants. Likewise, I understand that the process of making these cars’ batteries is pretty darn dirty, not to mention so expensive that the only way rich people can afford to buy them — or are willing to buy them — is with hefty government subsidies.
My question resulted in 151 comments arguing the pros and cons of electric cars. One of the main things that came through in the discussion was that government interference hides real costs, both economic and environmental. It turns out that the government may not just be interfering with real costs, it may be fudging them too:
The Green Machine is now exposing how the US Government can choose to create data that disobey the laws of thermodynamics so that the worthless government policy of favoring plug in vehicles over gas or diesel powered vehicles can be supported by the public. Yes the US EPA chooses to make 34.4% equal to 100%.
The EPA allows plug in vehicle makers to claim an equivalent miles per gallon (MPG) based on the electricity powering the cars motors being 100% efficient. This implies the electric power is generated at the power station with 100% efficiency, is transmitted and distributed through thousands of miles of lines without any loss, is converted from AC to DC without any loss, and the charge discharge efficiency of the batteries on the vehicle is also 100%. Of course the second law of thermodynamics tells us all of these claims are poppycock and that losses of real energy will occur in each step of the supply chain of getting power to the wheels of a vehicle powered with an electric motor.
I started thinking about all of this last night when my wife asked me how the Honda Fit that is now available as an electric vehicle could get 118 MPG as the equivalent rating from the US EPA? I told my wife that was because the US EPA believes in Political Science and not Real Science and that I would investigate this claim for her. Well it is simple the US EPA uses a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline to calculate the equivalent MPG of an electric vehicle.
Dr. Chu Chu of the Department of Entropy is instructing the EPA on thermodynamics in coming up with the 33.7 kwh per gallon. On a heating value of the fuel 33.7 kwh equals 114,984 BTUS which is indeed the lower heating value of gasoline. The fit needs 286 watt hours to travel a mile and the Green Machine agrees with this for the 2 cycle US EPA test with no heating, cooling or fast acceleration. Using this amount of energy per mile and the 33.7 kwh “contained” in a gallon of gas, the EPA calculates the Fit gets 118 MPG equivalent.
In other words, the government data about electric cards on which so many “greenies” rely, is hiding not only the cow, but also the cost of the feed, the environmental impact of the manure production, the ugliness of the slaughterhouse , the fuel used to ship meat to market, and the cost, waste and labor of packaging. Please be sure to read the whole Green Explored post here.
(Hat tip: Breitbart)
UPDATE: Mike McDaniel, who is surely one of the most graceful writers in the blogosphere, has more — much more — on the Volt’s myriad hidden costs and on the Obama politics driving this government boondoggle.