We have all been told, large-scale electric vehicle adoption can and will greatly reduce emissions from vehicle tailpipes giving us cleaner air.
We have also been told by industry analysts that increased indirect emissions from electricity production and battery production that are not regulated by transport policies will offset the change from ICE to BEV having no affect.
With these two statements in mind, a group from Yale SCHOOL OF THE ENVIRONMENT set out to study which statement is true, or truest in regard to the BEVs assembly and use in society.
The OEM auto industry is right now in the midst of a major multi-billion-dollar investment of creating and building electric vehicles here in the U.S. and for global consumption with many of these auto companies stating by 2030 to end ICE auto's building and focus 100% on building and selling BEVs only worldwide. The Yale School of the Environment study has been published in Nature Communications. The study found that the total indirect emissions from electric vehicles pale in comparison to the indirect emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles. This is in addition to the direct emissions from combusting fossil fuels, either at the tailpipe for ICE vehicles or at the power plant smokestack for electricity generation, showing electric vehicles have a clear advantage emissions-wise over ICE vehicles.
To quote Stephanie Weber, postdoctoral associate:
“The surprising element was how much lower the emissions of electric vehicles were,”
“The supply chain for combustion vehicles is just so dirty that electric vehicles can’t surpass them, even when you factor in indirect emissions.”
Question one would ask, what is the major concern with electric vehicles?
Answer, the electric vehicles supply chain, including the mining and processing of raw materials and the manufacturing of batteries is far from clean.
Quote from the study on this:
“So, if we priced the carbon embodied in these processes, the expectation is electric vehicles would be exorbitantly expensive. It turns out that’s not the case; if you level the playing field by also pricing the carbon in the fossil fuel vehicle supply chain, electric vehicle sales would actually increase.”
Also, according to the press release from Yale, the study considered future technological change, such as decarbonization of the electricity supply and found this strengthened the result that electric vehicles dominate when indirect supply chain emissions are accounted for.
The research team gathered data using a National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) created by the Energy Information Administration, which models the entire U.S. energy system using detailed information from the current domestic energy system and a forecast of the future of the electric system. Wolfram completed a life cycle assessment that provided outputs of indirect emissions, which were then plugged into the NEMS model to see how a carbon tax on these indirect emissions would change the behavior of consumers and manufacturers. Weber assisted in modifying the NEMS code.
According to the Wolfram, the study shows that "the elephant in the room is the supply chain of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, not that of electric vehicle." In countries with a sufficiently decarbonized electricity supply, like the U.S., the faster we switch to electric vehicles, the better.
Interesting enough is that studies that have been done have always pointed to life cycle of the BEV and yet no study till now has been done to the life cycle of an ICE vehicle. As such, now that one has been done, it clearly shows that humanity benefits from moving to electric vehicles from ICE vehicles.
The bigger question I would think is can society get over their political factions to ICE versus BEV for the health of society rather than cling to the past in an attitude of no change is good change?
The Yale team used a combination of life cycle assessment and energy modeling to analyze the total life-cycle emissions of conventional or ICE vehicles versus EV or electric vehicles. They then calculated a carbon price on those emissions to see what effect that would have on the vehicle market. End result is that EV sales would increase in comparison to gas auto sales due to the larger increase in cost associated with ICE auto production.
What are your thoughts on the study and the emission question?
YSE Study Finds Electric Vehicles Provide Lower Carbon Emissions Through Additional Channels | Yale School of the Environment
Pricing indirect emissions accelerates low—carbon transition of US light vehicle sector | Nature Communications
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