GM peak conversion opens debate

Futurologist W.Shawn Gray has raised the following list of specific questions that need to be answered.

  1. The source of the 18 million tonnes increase in greenhouse gas estimate
  2. How much expansion of Australia’s current renewable electricity generating capacity would be needed to cover that same "transformation of the transport system in Australia from gasoline based to electricity"?
  3. Are those figures based on current gasoline consumption per current vehicle usage or are they projections to when such a swap could be rolled out?
  4. In an ideal world what is the quickest such a roll-out could be feasibly accomplished?
  5. What is the parallel case for diesel (road transport only) replacement by electricity also?

The Ebono Institute will follow the debate closely. Amory Lovins important contributions to the debate have helped shift the view of the US auto industry.

Greens MLC, John Kaye, provides the following detailed analysis

1. Petrol car running 100 km

Average fuel consumption is 10 litres (efficiency improvements such as hybrids in stop/start urban driving would only make electric vehicles look worse)

CO2 gas emissions = 26 kg (source: Aust Greenhouse Office)

Energy used (thermo-chemical) = 10 litres x 10 kWh/litre = 100 kWh

Energy delivered (mechanical) = 100 kWh x efficiency (= about 25%) = 25 kWh
 

2. Electrical car (same weight, deign etc.) 100 km

Electrical energy needed at power point = mechanical energy used/(battery and drive efficiency)

                                    = 25 kWh / 80% (approx) = 30 kWh (approx)

Greenhouse gas emissions = electrical energy x emission factor (kg CO2e/kWh) x distribution fac

(distribution factor = 1 + % losses in transmission and distribution)

Using AGO data for transport emissions (2005) and emissions factors, and using ABS data to get that 91% of transport emissions are from road I get:

Greenhouse office emissions figures

The 1.03 distribution loss factor (i.e. 3% loss in distribution – note this does not include transmission) is very low (i.e. reduces the increase in emissions) but I was bending over backwards to be kind to elec vehicles.

Hence 18 million tonnes a year. It is admittedly an estimate but it is about the only one I can find . It is a low side estimate.

Beware of looking at US, UK or Canadian reports – their emissions factors are much lower (e.g. Canada 0.22 kg/kWh).

In answer to your questions

1# The source of the figures?

various as above

2# How much expansion of Australia’s current renewable electricity generating capacity would be needed to cover that same "transformation of the transport system in Australia from gasoline based to electricity"?

Need to reduce Greenhouse intensity to at least 0.85. If this reduction were being obtained by replacing coal with renewables, very very roughly we would need to take 15% of current generation and replace it zero emissions sources like renewables.

3# Are those figures based on current gasoline consumption per current vehicle usage or are they projections to when such a swap could be rolled out?

Based on 10 litres/100 km. Better fuel consumption would further disadvantage electric vehicles with respect petrol power

4# In an ideal world what is the quickest such a roll-out could be feasibly accomplished?

Not sure about "ideal world" – that’s quite subjective. You may have heard me say that if we really need to make change to survive and are not too fussy about markets and free flow of capital (i.e. if we are prepared to have market intervention and direction of capital) we can achieve an awful lot.

5# What is the parallel case for diesel (road transport only) replacement by electricity also?

Diesel is roughly 34% of total transport emissions and about 37% of total road emissions . I had just dealt with it as a similar substitution in my figures.

The Ebono Institute’s Ready Reckoner provides an overview of how various energy sources stack up and the relationship between global energy issues and your domestic consumption.

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