Wednesday, September 18, 2013

China Gives “Green” Light To EVs

Hydrocarbon Processing reported today that China unveiled subsidies for fuel efficient vehicles.  “The program is to “speed development of the new-energy automobile industry, reduce emissions and help control pollution,” the ministry said in a statement published on its website.

I think without doubt China will speed the development of the new-energy automobile industry and will produce and possibly export tens of millions of vehicles in the coming years.  But the statement that China will reduce emissions and help control pollution is really questionable.

If China does move to have more pure electric plug in vehicles they are simply shifting the emissions and pollution from the road to their coal fired power plants.  For argument sake let’s assume they produce an electric vehicle with 30 kwh of batteries that has a 100 mile range and has a life of ten years and is capable of travelling approximately 120,000 miles before the batteries are kaput.

To fabricate the batteries require 472 kwh of primary electric energy for each kwh of stored capability.  30 kwh of batteries means 14,160 kwh of primary electricity is needed.  With emissions of 1.9 pound CO2 per kwh at the power generation station 26,904 pounds of CO2 are emitted for the fabrication of the batteries.  Amortizing this over 120,000 miles equals 0.224 pounds CO2 per mile.  If the car needs 0.3 kwh DC per mile, 0.33 kwh AC per mile has to be generated at the power station.  This emits 0.627 pounds CO2 per mile for powering the vehicle.  Adding the 0.224 and 0.627 the car will attain a true emission of 0.851 pounds CO2 per mile.

To extract and transport crude oil, refine the oil to gasoline, transport the gasoline and then combust the gasoline emits 25 pounds of CO2 per gallon of gasoline.  Dividing 0.851 into 25 we have a true MPG of 29.37 for the EV that lasts 10 years for a total distance of 120,000 miles.  29.37 MPG is about 10% less than the average estimated MPG for a 2014 Toyota Corolla.  The Corolla will also not emit as much SOx and NOx, and would not be range limited to 100 miles.

China would best be served by subsidizing Prius type vehicles to improve the fleet efficiency and their idea of transferring emissions and pollution to their power generation stations is simply them following the US and Europe with misguided policy that pretends to address lowering emissions.  In order to really lower emissions the owners of new cars should not drive alone and China should mandate that cars have at least three occupants or else they cannot be on the road.  You will see lots of casual carpooling then in China and a bit of cleaning up of the air.


  1. Interesting... I'm leasing a Ford Fusion Plug-in Hydrid... It's pretty amazing... I'm getting better than 100 MPGe because I plug-in at work as well as at home... Using your numbers (25 lbs. of CO2 per gallon of gasoline is a vast underestimate), my car's "true MPG" is approx. 32... But a more complete analysis would point out that electricity can be generated from many sources with CO2 emissions much less than your estimate... If just half of the 2,800 kWh I use per year were generated from a solar-energy plant, the true MPG of my car climbs to 53... A nice read all the same...







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