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March 19, 2008


Gordon McCallum

An interesting piece, despite the dig at the Scots. Perhaps you share this trait too? It did make me chuckle!
Yours Aye,

Bob Knaus

I hate to be the permanent rainmaker on the cleantech parade. After all, I'm a guy who lives on a sailboat and who gets most of his electricity from a wind generator and a solar panel.

But... unless the source of electricity is non-carbon-emitting and non-polluting... electric vehicles do not gain anything environmentally. It's a math thing, not an ideology thing. Losses through the wires and batteries, you know?

Until the marginal kilowatt of electricity in the Bahamas is generated by wind, solar, OTEC, or the n-word, electric vehicles will be merely a feel-good technology. Not a real technology to address real environmental issues.

larry smith

Are they any better than a normal gasoline car? This is from evworld.com:

"In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, they generate a fraction of that expelled by a normal gasoline engine car.

For every gallon of gasoline burned, approximately 22 pounds of CO2 are created, as well as other pollutants. By comparison, an electric car may travel the same distance consuming 5 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electric power at a rate of 200 watt hours/mile.

Assuming the local grid is 100% coal-fired, roughly 5 lbs of coal would be consumed to create that 5kWh. Depending on the grade and carbon content of the coal, one kilowatt hour creates approximately 1.4 pounds of CO2. That's 7 pounds of CO2 vs. 22 pounds to travel the same 25 miles."

Jason Hayman

You are spot on Larry. We did a study at Cambridge; comparing a small gasoline powered car (Smart car) and a small electric car (G-Wiz) during a weekly commuter cycle in London. The carbon emissions from the electric vehicle were about a quarter of that created by the gasoline powered car.

larry smith

This is from Slate:

An electric car isn't a zero-emissions vehicle. Driving one still has an environmental cost. But if you break down the numbers, EVs still come out ahead of cars featuring internal combustion engines, especially in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.

Lower carbon dioxide emissions aren't the only advantage to going electric with your wheels. EVs such as the Roadster don't even have tailpipes, so there's not a constant plume of acrid smoke wafting into the air. As a result, EVs produce less methane, nitrous oxide, and assorted other greenhouse gases than their gas-powered counterparts.

Let's say the skeptics are right to some extent, though, and that EVs provide only marginal environmental benefits. Upgrades in power-plant technology, along with the creation of more alternative energy sources, would still make every EV cleaner. As green-car enthusiasts are so fond of saying, it's a lot easier to control emissions at a few power plants than at millions of tailpipes.

Bob Knaus

Something's wrong with the CO2 math, Larry. A gallon of gasoline weighs about 7 pounds, so each pound of gasoline emits 3 pounds of CO2. Each pound of coal emits 1.4 pounds of CO2.

But, coal contains more carbon per pound than gasoline! That's why it's so black :)

I do agree that an electric car driver will emit less CO2 than a gas hogging SUV driver. That's because the electric car weighs less, goes slower, and doesn't have amenities like air conditioning. If we were all forced to drive electric cars, there would be fewer cars on the road and we'd use less energy.

But I think a lot of people would be unhappy with that.


Bob Knaus:
f**k the environment. Nobody cares. It's all about the money!

If buying an electric car saves me lot of gas money then that's all that matters. That's all that matters to me and 90% of the rest of the people in The Bahamas.

If 90% of the cars in The Bahamas were electric, would that have a positive effect on the environment??? ... Who cares!!! We saving money nickah!

But let's say 10 years from now 75% of the cars here were electric...don't you think eventually a large number of people would finally start thinking..."If all dese lectric cars round here id get dey power from da sun and the ammonia I is mop my floor with an ting like dat and it only cost one lil two or tree dollas den why da FRIG my BEC bill still so EFFIN high." Then when people start thinking like that they will have a combined voice loud enough to force the change. Or even better, the people thinking that though might happen to already be working for BEC by then.

Bob Knaus

um, ignoring the Uncle Remus dialect... the Bahamas has a population of 320,000. Maybe 400,000 if you count the Haitians, which governments from neither the FNM nor the PLP seem inclined to do.

How much effect will Bahamian actions have on global environmental problems? Slightly more than zero, vanishingly greater than none. There are 5 billion humans and counting on this planet. Bahamians are cruelly subject to "externalities" as economists would say, with little recourse to address them.

As a Bahamian, you can choose actions which make you feel good about the global environment. You cannot choose actions which make a measurable difference about the global environment.

So, it's best for Bahamians to concentrate on their local environment and stop worrying about the global one.

Sorry to be the bearer of sobering news.

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