Free Markets, Free People

Coal powered, er electric cars, not as efficient as EPA claims?

Why I’d be shocked, shocked I tell you if that was the case.

The tease:

The Green Machine is now exposing how the US Government can choose to create data that disobey the laws of thermodynamics so that the worthless government policy of favoring plug in vehicles over gas or diesel powered vehicles can be supported by the public. Yes the US EPA chooses to make 34.4% equal to 100%.

Hmmm … I’m hooked, let’s see why:

The EPA allows plug in vehicle makers to claim an equivalent miles per gallon (MPG) based on the electricity powering the cars motors being 100% efficient. This implies the electric power is generated at the power station with 100% efficiency, is transmitted and distributed through thousands of miles of lines without any loss, is converted from AC to DC without any loss, and the charge discharge efficiency of the batteries on the vehicle is also 100%. Of course the second law of thermodynamics tells us all of these claims are poppycock and that losses of real energy will occur in each step of the supply chain of getting power to the wheels of a vehicle powered with an electric motor.

So the 118 mpg equivalent that the EPA allows the Honda Fit is nonsense?  Tell me it ain’t so!

Well it is simple the US EPA uses a conversion factor of 33.7 kilowatt hours per gallon of gasoline to calculate the equivalent MPG of an electric vehicle.

Dr. Chu Chu of the Department of Entropy is instructing the EPA on thermodynamics in coming up with the 33.7 kwh per gallon. On a heating value of the fuel 33.7 kwh equals 114,984 BTUS which is indeed the lower heating value of gasoline. The fit needs 286 watt hours to travel a mile and the Green Machine agrees with this for the 2 cycle US EPA test with no heating, cooling or fast acceleration. Using this amount of energy per mile and the 33.7 kwh “contained” in a gallon of gas, the EPA calculates the Fit gets 118 MPG equivalent.

All of these calculations are in fact flawed as the generation of electricity, the transmission and distribution of electricity, the conversion of the AC electricity into DC electricity, and the charging and discharging of the vehicle batteries all have energy losses associated with these activities. The average efficiency of power generation is perhaps 42.5%, the transmission and distribution efficiency is perhaps 90%, the AC to DC conversion and the battery charge discharge efficiency is about 90%. Multiplying all these efficiencies one can calculate that the overall efficiency is 34.4% to get electric power from fuels at the power station into stored electrons within the plug in vehicle’s batteries.

On this basis the 118 MPG equivalent is 40.6 MPG actual for the Honda Fit which is not much of an improvement to the gasoline version of this vehicle that has an EPA rating of 35 MPG combined for city and highway driving.

Uh, that’s quite a little downgrade in performance, isn’t it?  Nothing like being 190% off, EPA.

However, I am glad to see the administration has finally taken the politics out of science and has “real” science again serving the public’s best interest.


Twitter: @McQandO

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21 Responses to Coal powered, er electric cars, not as efficient as EPA claims?

  • I’d be curious to know if anyone could point to an objective truth told by the Obamic Regime.

  • I’ve always had a problem with the EPA administering the “Energy-Star” system when we have an Energy Department.
    This “error” makes me wonder even more if the EPA should be withing arm’s length of anything energy.

  • Efficiency for efficiency’s sake is sort of academic, isn’t it? 

    It depends on what you care about.  If you fear global warming and CO2 production, then if you produce less C02 because of hydroelectric and nuclear, then there should be an upweighting.  It wouldn’t be 3:1 though. 

    I care about cost.  And if coal Powerplant to Wheel cost are consistently 1/2 that of oil, then I wouldn’t mind upweighting 2 to 1. 

  • The energy output of a single medium-size coal mine is greater than the entire solar and wind energy output of the United States.

  • Awesome.  A more detailed explanation of this EPA electric vehicle MPGe fraud is here:

  • Hey, isn’t the price per gallon of these electric miles about to go up with the closing of the coal fired plants?

    • Shhh…!!!  Dude!  The Collective is ALREADY approaching “suicide watch” despair.  Plus, a lot of ’em really DO believe their power comes from renewable delusional power.

    • Not if they’re replaced by natural gas plants. If they’re just shut down, then yes as cost will act as a rationing mechanism.

      • But my understanding was the bids for future power produced even by the gas plants, was considerably higher than the coal fired equivalent because, well, there just aren’t plants that can take up the switch, and the result will be increased costs due to conversion and construction necessitated by the cut over (it’s that damned supply/demand thingie again!)
        “Last week PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for 13 states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia) held its 2015 capacity auction. These are the first real, market prices that take Obama’s most recent anti-coal regulations into account, and they prove that he is keeping his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”
        The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt.
        Why the massive price increases? Andy Ott from PJM stated the obvious: “Capacity prices were higher than last year’s because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in 2015.” Northern Ohio is suffering from more forced coal-plant retirements than the rest of the region, hence the even higher price.

        Read more:

        I’d sure be expecting maybe that Big Ear’s EPA would have someone come along and jamb a curb bit in their snouts after he’s out of office and get these unruly enviro whacko mustangs under control again.  I understand Obama is perfectly happy to give them their head, but I would think Romney would see this for the economy killer it is and put a stop to it.

        • GA Power is converting coal plants to gas and prices are coming down here.

          • hmmm, could there be more to this then?  Crony capitalism?  A little opportunity to jack the price up, get new facilities, AND blame the government?

          • LOTS of variables at work, Looker.  Gas is VERY cheap right now, and gas turbine plants are relatively cheap and fast to construct.  Many of those variables can be VERY different in the future.

          • Well, that’s the rub – the prices are decreasing in McQ’s area, but based on the 2015 bidding, expected to go up rather dramatically “In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt. ”
            I’m not arguing that you’re wrong, I’m willing to concede you and Bruce are correct, so….why the rise from $16/mwh to as much as $357/mwh reflected in the bidding?  I’m not into seeing power prices rise just so we have, yet another, excuse to replace the boy who would be king.  Someone with money knows something…or….someone with money is getting another back rub and will blame it on the faceless, nameless EPA when granny is freezing in November of 2015.

  • Agree 100% with Bruce’s critique.   But one thing nags at me as to whether we have the right vs. percentage.  When comparing coal vs gasoline powered cars, should we at least consider the efficiencies of going from crude (the raw material, at about the same “out of the ground” state as coal) to gasoline?  I suspect that the coal powered car still don’t get anywhere near the lying EPAs 118mph, but I suspect a greenie would make this argument.