STUDY: Driving an Electric Tesla Results in Much More CO2 Than A Mercedes Diesel

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A new study is reporting that Electric vehicles will barely help cut CO2 emissions, and in some cases, make matters much worse! German think tank IFO is reporting that the introduction of electric vehicles does not necessarily lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions from road traffic. When the CO2 emissions from battery production is included, the whole scheme goes very awry!

“It’s better read as a warning that new technologies aren’t a climate-change panacea. Recall the false promises about corn and cellulosic ethanol,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote of the study.

Often times, solutions are not thought all the way through. Driving a Tesla Model 3, for example, is responsible for 156 to 181 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Compare that to the just 141 grams per kilometer for a diesel-powered Mercedes C220d.

Keep in mind that includes emissions from producing diesel fuel. ( Also keep in mind I am not beating up on Tesla. I would LOVE to have one. I think they rock! Electric cars are just are not a valid solution if you are trying to lower a carbon footprint!)

Batteries, especially those used in electric cars, require large quantities of assorted metals and minerals in their manufacturing process. These materials are often mined, produced, and transported at great expenditures of money and energy, leaving behind a significant environmental footprint. Use and consumption of these resources also produce waste, contributing to the environmental impact.

This discussion is often left out of environmental debates.

It’s not just battery production, but charging vehicles that also emits a lot of CO2. Germany gets 35 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, so charging a Tesla in, say, Bavaria results in 83 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven.

From the study:

Electric vehicles will barely help cut CO2 emissions in Germany over the coming years, as the introduction of electric vehicles does not necessarily lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions from road traffic. Natural gas combustion engines are the ideal technology for transitioning to vehicles powered by hydrogen or “green” methane in the long term.

Considering Germany’s current energy mix and the amount of energy used in battery production, the CO2 emissions of battery-electric vehicles are, in the best case, slightly higher than those of a diesel engine, and are otherwise much higher. This has been confirmed by a new study by Christoph Buchal, professor of physics at the University of Cologne; Hans-Dieter Karl, long-standing ifo energy expert; and Hans-Werner Sinn, former ifo president and professor emeritus at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

The researchers carried out their detailed calculations using the concrete examples of a modern electric car and a modern diesel vehicle. In addition to CO2 emissions from battery production, they looked at alternative energy sources for electricity in order to calculate the impact electric vehicles have on CO2 emissions.

They show that even with today’s technology, total emissions from a combustion engine powered by natural gas are already almost one-third lower than those of a diesel engine. “Over the long term, hydrogen-methane technology offers a further advantage: it allows surplus wind and solar power generated during peaks to be stored, and these surpluses will see a sharp increase as the share of this renewable energy grows,” Professor Buchal explains.

We have seen the same issue before, many times.

Just recently, we published an article here at Joe about the plastic bag bans. Not only are the alternatives making a much larger carbon footprint, but the ban is causing death. Food borne illnesses rise significantly using reusables. In San Francisco alone, the deaths due to food borne illness rose 50% after plastic bags were banned.



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