Electric cars or coal-to-diesel?

TeslaThe carbon neutral flagship of New Zealand’s power sector, Meridian Energy, has announced that it’s planning to start trials on electric cars next year [Stuff, Herald] . CEO Keith Turner also announced a new service specialising in helping to design and build energy efficient homes, and a new environmentally friendly Wellington headquarters. Discussing the car trial, Turner said:

“The prize in making the move to electric vehicles comes when you recharge them with renewable electricity. Meridian will be able to demonstrate renewable, zero-emission, certified carbon neutral mobility.

11 thoughts on “Electric cars or coal-to-diesel?”

  1. Did you know that that 200 miles range is done on a level track at 10 MPH, and that when you turn the heater, lights and stereo on it drops to 120 miles on a level track at 10 MPH? 😉

  2. From the BBC article linked above:

    Another car on the horizon is the X1, a concept car that Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ian Wright is using to raise eyebrows and money to build a proper sports car.

    The X1 goes from 0 to 60 in the time it takes to say 0 to 60.

    “I’ve had beautiful women walk up to me in the street and want to know all about my car. That’s never happened to me in my life before,” revealed Mr Wright.

  3. Does that mean you can’t find any info on what speed and conditions these vehicles are travelling under to get the claimed mileage either?

    Hope you’re not annoyed at me for pointing this out. If we are to be objective about things we need to look at all the facts, not just those that suit us.

    Take for example the article headed “Climate catastrophe” in New Scientist July 28th, Hansen advances his belief that a 5 metre rise in sea level is possible by 2095, how does he arrive at 5 metres? He uses geometric progression “let us say that ice sheet melting adds 1 cm to sea level for the decade 2005 to 2015, and that this doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. This would yield a rise in sea level of more than 5 metres by 2095.”

    Hansen doesn’t mention that the last decade ie. 2085 to 2095 would have a sea level rise of 256 cm, that is, over half the total, and that under this scenario the rise from 2095 to 2105 would be 512 cm and the decade 2125 to 2135 alone sea levels would rise by 41 metres, with the total rise by 2135 being around 80 metres, how realistic is that?

  4. OK Andrew, you’ve made me waste far too much time this afternoon, but…

    Electric cars: The Tesla battery pack (Li-ion, same as laptops) is good for about 53 kWh. Tesla claim about 110 Wh per km, so about 480 km per charge. Allow for normal driving (ie actually using some of that 0-60 mph in 4 secs performance), and you get down to their (almost certainly conservative) claim of 200 miles per charge). And given that they are making a high-end sports car, you can safely assume that they are not basing those figures on driving the car like a milk float. All specs available from Tesla’s web site, and there’s a very good article about the company in Vanity Fair‘s May issue. Interestingly, the X1 is designed by Ian Wright, a New Zealander, who was one of the first Tesla engineers.

    Hansen: His argument is not that the simple geometric progression is the right way to describe the way that ice sheets collapse, but he uses it to demonstrate how exposed we are to that risk. Read the Rahmstorf paper or his RealClimate article (linked in my earlier post). In the absence of good ice sheet models, he uses paleo evidence to suggest 1.4m rise by the end of the century. Even if that happens linearly – at an even pace – 14 cm per decade is a lot to cope with if you live in Bangladesh.

  5. Regarding the Tesla Roadster:

    Two informative links on the Tesla, It’s not as bad as I facetiously suggested, but the EPA highway test that the vehicles 320 km range claim is based on does have a wiff of unreality about it, realistically if it was driven like a sports car 250 km is about as good as it’ll get, assuming no heaters, air conditioning or lights>
    At the end of the second link it is suggested that picking power up by electric vehicles as they are travelling might be a solution to the reality of the limitations of batteries (like slot cars).



    Regarding Hansen:

    “His argument is not that the simple geometric progression is the right way to describe the way that ice sheets collapse, but he uses it to demonstrate how exposed we are to that risk.”

    Well it’s a bloody silly demonstration then.
    Hansen is not a glaciologist, in the New Scientist article he admits that when he testified in a case last year he could not name one glaciologist “who agreed publicly with my assertion that sea level is likely to rise more than a metre this century if greenhouse emissions continue to grow”…”I could not, at that moment I was dismayed…”.
    He attributed this lack of public support for his views by the relevent scientists to the “John Mercer effect”.

    My understading is that the paleo evidence Hansen uses comes from periods when vast ice sheets covered what is now the northern temperate zone, given the much vaster area of ice avialable for melting compared to today I don’t accept that meaningful parrellels can be drawn.

  6. We should really be discussing Hansen in the comments to that post, but…

    You could make a case that it’s difficult to justify using the paleo evidence for anything that’s happening now, because current conditions – sudden increase in CO2 during a warm interglacial – haven’t happened before. We are well out into the unknown. I am certain though (as I said before) that Hansen – and some others (possible post forthcoming) – are right to point out how big the downside is. It’s as dangerous to assume that things will only change slowly when we know they could change very fast. And from an ecosystem perspective, the changes are already very fast indeed.

  7. Oh, I’m optimistic about EV’s, just not convinced that loading enough batteries into them to get a good range makes more sense than using a MUCH smaller battery (say 1/5th the size) and charging them at points on your journey as you drive.

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