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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tesla Motors supplying Mercedes Benz with electric battery - what does this mean for electric vehicles?

Update: As pointed out by Jason in the comments to my last post, it has been confirmed that none other than Tesla Motors will begin supplying Mercedes Benz with an electric battery to power Mercedes' new electric car, rumored to begin production in 2010. This is huge news to EV advocates and I think it shows how automakers are hesitant to invest too much into Hydrogen vehicles since it is taking the governments so long to provide the necessary refueling infrastructure. This news backs up my claim that electric vehicles are the fastest way to energy independence.

The biggest concern with EVs is that right now the majority of the electricity for charging the vehicles will have to come from dirty GHG emitting coal or natural gas poewr plants. If we want to replace our oil addiction with more electricity usage something has to give, and right now that means a decision between new coal plants or new nuclear plants.

Constantine "Costa" Samaras, a clean energy advocate and PHD candidate at Carnegie Mellon, wrote a report with one of his colleagues on how cleaner power sources are needed in order for plug in electric vehicles to have a positive impact on GHG reduction. Here are some quotes that summarize their report:

The potential for PHEVs to achieve large-scale GHG emission reductions is highly dependent on the energy sources of electricity production...If large life cycle GHG reductions are desired from PHEVs, a strategy to match charging with low-carbon electricity is necessary.

...For large GHG reductions with plug-in hybrids, public policies that complement PHEV adoption should focus on encouraging charging with low-carbon electricity.

Back in May Costa wrote this note to me explaining their study (my apologies for not posting sooner!):
We have a new paper out in Environmental Science and Technology looking at life cycle GHGs from plug-in hybrids, including battery production and use of cellulosic ethanol. It it titled "Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles: Implications for Policy". The policy headline is the types of power plants installed in the next two decades will not only affect how much we can reduce emissions from electricity, but also from vehicles if we plan on plug-in hybrids playing a substantial role. If you want to buy a PHEV two or three vehicle purchases in the future, the types of plants installed today will be in the mix that powers that vehicle. While maybe obvious, it is missing from the current discussion on PHEVs, which assumes decarbonizing the power sector as external to the PHEV discussions and policy, when in fact it is a critical system component. We also find that running on traditional coal, PHEVs have higher life cycle GHGs that ordinary hybrid vehicles.

Our press release is here:

http://www.cit.cmu.edu/media/pr_08_apr25.html

and a post at Green Car Congress about our paper is here:

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/04/study-meaningfu.html

Best,
Costa

2 comments:

jason said...

cool

Mark Lazen said...

Chris--comments on this piece over the The Energy Collective as well--
http://theenergycollective.com/TheEnergyCollective/24620

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