The Contradictions of Battery Operated Vehicles | Graham Conway | TEDxSanAntonioFeb 16, 2022
climate change is a hoax and the electric vehicle is an abomination someone once told me that to capture the attention of an audience you have to offend them and what better way to offend people than to denounce climate change because if there is something that the Everyone can unanimously agree is that we don't like him here in the future, so now that I have your attention, let me review those initial comments. I really believe in climate change, but I have a problem with how we define electric
vehicles, so this talk will still offend some people. I can almost see the YouTube comments on this video.
Now it's not pretty, but this talk is not about unfairly demonizing the electric vehicle. I absolutely believe they are the future of personal transportation. They do a fantastic job of moving pollution. Our self populated cities are fun to drive and sometimes you can get free parking too and I know this because I had an EV for three years and it was a great car that will absolutely be a place for EV in our future but not today. Let me start with a question: There are a billion passenger cars in the ranks of the world today. If I gave you a button that would turn you all into electric
vehicles, would you push it? the problem of climate change is global and is believed to be caused by increasing co2 concentrations in our atmosphere if you put a box around the earth and measure the gas trapped inside that box you will actually find co2 and the levels of co2 are rising which is causing co2 levels to rise well one source is the cars and trucks we drive emit co2 out of the tailpipe and the way the industry currently measures this co2 is like putting a special box around the vehicle and measure what is inside the box. the problem is the electric vehicle because if you put a box around the electric vehicle and try to measure co2 you won't find anything so based on this way of measuring co2 we have decided to call them zero emissions or we call them dirty but let me show you why this thats wrong consider instead of changing all vehicles to electric vehicles we changed them to horses now a horse breathes air and exhales co2 so if you put a box around the horse it would measure co2 if it rode that horse the same distance as he drove the car he would find something quite shocking the horse emits as much co2 as a Corvette so you can see based on this way of measuring co2 our only possible conclusion is that if we turn all cars into horses we will be emitting as much CO2 as 1 billion Corvettes and that doesn't sound great for the environment, but as you're sitting there, I'm sure something deep inside of you is saying no.
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the contradictions of battery operated vehicles graham conway tedxsanantonio...
Doesn't sound good and you'd be right of course if we swapped out all cars for horses our climate would be better and here's why it would be better you see even though the horse exhales CO2 into the atmosphere that CO2 is then absorbed by plants. a d converted back to oxygen that the horse breathes again and so you see that the co2 is in a cycle and because it is in a cycle it does not increase in contrast the car is different because with the car we dig everything out of the ground we burn it and produce co2 and it's not in a cycle so it's increasing so you were right to be skeptical but based on how we currently measure co2 you couldn't have come to this conclusion without doing this type of analysis. go back to electric vehicle remember the way we quantify co2 is by measuring it from the tailpipe but the electric car doesn't burn fuel but it does use electricity so we have to look at where a large proportion of our electricity comes from. from coal we now extract coal from the earth in large quantities and then burn it in power plants that produce CO2, you can see there is no arrow at the top of this diagram indicating that CO2 is not in a cycle and is increasing, but you could possibly not know this by just measuring the tailpipe of the vehicle what we have to do is expand our imaginary box to include everything and coal is not the only way we generate electricity we also burn natural gas and we burn oil for produce CO2 now you could be sitting there and say hang in a minute i charge my electric vehicle with solar panels on my roof so that's ok for you maybe and many developed nations are moving away from coal and natural gas towards power sources renewables, co2 is a global problem so let's take a look at things on a global scale, how much of the world's electricity is produced by burning fuel which creates CO2, it's about two thirds so you can see when you plug in your electric vehicle you're probably producing CO2 it's just not being measured you see the The auto industry has cleverly found a way to move the problem not solve it but does the electric vehicle is it really worse?
To understand if it is worse, we need to look at how many emissions are produced during the life of the vehicle the average age of a vehicle before it is scrapped is around 180 thousand miles you can see that the conventional vehicle produces around 30 tons of CO2 during its lifespan how does the electric vehicle look pretty good because some of that electricity comes from renewable sources and because the electric motor is much more efficient than the internal combustion engine it produces less CO2 but there is a problem with this graph this graph it says zero miles zero CO2 has been produced and you think about that for a second it means the two cars have magically appeared in the showroom out of nowhere actually a lot of CO2 is produced in making a vehicle because you have to extract materials raw soil to transport them to factories where they can be turned into car parts before finally being assembled into vehicles, each step requires energy, so we created CO2 so you can see that the conventional vehicle arrives at the showroom having generated around six tons. of co2 and now this is the critical part making a
batteryis not easy the materials required are harder to find and the coupling in the
batterycell requires a lot of energy so the battery vehicle comes to the showroom having generated about 12 tons of co2 and you can see you would have to drive it about 80 or 90 thousand miles before you make up for that co2 penalty but in the end it's better so the EV still looks good here too ok this row gets interesting see the conventional the vehicle has a 400 mile range ok the electric vehicle in this example has a 125 mile range now 125 miles might be enough for some of you but most of us want more we would like to be able to drive long distances across the states or if you are here in texas you may want to get to the next city so we really need c Compare an electric vehicle with a 400 mile range and as you may have guessed longer range requires a bigger battery which means a bigger CO2 penalty and now you start to see the problem throughout its expected lifespan emitted more co2 than the conventional vehicle has contributed more to climate change in the conventional vehicle and that is the crux of the problem it has produced more co2 but we have not measured any and society is happy to continue calling them zero emissions but that is dangerous and unproductive, but there is something that we can do today using the technology that we have today that will make a difference today and that is to look at hybrids, hybrids are much more efficient than conventional vehicles because at low speeds where the engine is inefficient, the electric motor he compensates and says dont worry motor i got this stay off until we need it and critically a hybrid has a small battery so Because the initial co2 penalty is similar to that of the conventional vehicle while the end-of-life emissions are much lower, in fact, to offset the co2 of the electric vehicle, you would need to drive it around 450,000 miles before you offset that co2 but ag ain I don't want to demonize the electric vehicle I just don't think we should embrace them today based on the way we generate our electricity in the way we make our batteries but how can we help the electric vehicle reach its potential? we need to invest in generating our electricity from renewable sources around the world so that when we plug in our electric cars we know no CO2 is being generated.
We can do this by building solar and wind farms. If we did then you can see the we can make a difference to the emissions created over the life of the vehicle we can go further we can invest in new battery technologies battery production techniques to help offset that initial co2 penalty and you to you can see the potential of the electric vehicle you can see what it might look like in the future it's just that as a society we are trillions of dollars and decades away from achieving this but we will achieve it one day but what we don't want to do today is cheat a people to b By buying electric vehicles by falsely calling them zero emissions what we need to do instead is because we continue to invest in the internal combustion engine which has yet to reach its full potential and we can look to renewable fuels.
This is where we combine water with wasting CO2 to create fuels for our vehicles now there's a good reason why we don't do this today it takes a lot of energy to do it but if all that energy comes from sources renewables, then it's not a problem for the climate, so you see, we've created a new CO2 cycle and you can see how fantastic the hybrid vehicle looks over the lifetime of the emissions, even without renewable fuels. We should still consider buying hybrids today if we want to impact climate change now, in the future there will be. be conventional vehicles hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles where they make sense the future is not just electric the future is eclectic so let me leave you with this if i gave you that button based on what you now know would you push it thank you
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