Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Electric cars may use less electricity than gasoline-powered cars

By BJ Bjornson

I first saw this a couple of days ago, but it deserves wider reading.

File this one under "ammunition for future debates."

EVangelist Peder Norby, who has been having more fun driving and writing about his Mini E than anyone at BMW probably thought possible, recently wrote a most interesting post comparing electricity usage to produce gasoline to the electricity needed to drive an electric car. The short version: "It takes more electricity to drive the average gasoline car 100 miles, than it does to drive an electric car 100 miles."

Let's go over that again. If we simply count the electricity used to make the gasoline that gets burned in a normal vehicle, you need more juice than you do to move an EV the same distance. Of course, then you need to factor in the actual gasoline used (and the resulting CO2 emissions). Plus, don't forget, it takes a bunch of water to refine gasoline. Put this all together and you've got on hell of an energy efficiency argument in favor of plug-in vehicles. Here are some numbers (get more details in Norby's post).

Now, this mainly appears to be back-of-the-napkin type calculations, which doesn't mean they're wrong, and in fact are a good way to see if you are on the right track with your thinking, but does mean that there is likely some refinements necessary to see just how true the overall argument holds.

However, even at this stage, it provides a pretty decent counter-argument to many of the naysayers on electric vehicles. Some of the biggest complaints have been centered around the related ideas that electric vehicles simply shift the emissions from the tailpipes of cars to the smokestacks of power plants, and that the addition of millions of electrics to the roads would overwhelm the electrical infrastructure and require the building of numerous new and polluting power plants.

However, if it is true that the refining of gasoline actually sucks up more power than simply using the electricity to drive, both arguments immediately fall apart, as replacing internal combustion cars with electrics would actually reduce the power required and thus the pollution at the power plants, not to mention the added emissions that result from then burning the gas itself.

Further, even it the exact numbers don�t favour electrics at the moment, it is safe to say that they will in the very near future. The reason for that being that the new sources of oil being exploited through technologies such as shale fracking and bitumen mining in the tar sands are far more energy intensive than the old stick a pipe in the ground drilling that has been the major method of oil production to date. At the tar sands in particular, the use of energy and water have become the main limiting factors on expansion, with talk of building multiple nuclear reactors and diverting some additional northern rivers to the area to deal with shortages of both.

On the other side of the equation is the increasing efficiency of electric motors, storage devices like batteries, and renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics, all of which point to this equation tipping further and further towards EV�s in the near future. Certainly something to think about.


  1. Well it doesn't really matter whether a car, electric or internal combustion, uses more or less electricity, but whether it uses more or less energy. Electricity is, for the near future, generated almost entirely with fossil fuel, but even when that eventually is no longer the case, the consumption of energy in any form is detrimental to some degree.
    And there is still the matter of the amount of energy and natural resources consumed in manufacturing the car, the type and availability of resources needed to make the energy storage devices for the car, and the disposal of worn out cars and, in particular, expired energy storage devices for the cars.
    We don't need to be thinking in terms of cars that use a little bit less energy, we need to make a quantum change in the way we interact with our planet, such as thinking of a way to live without cars at all.

  2. Agreed on the energy situation Bill, and assuming I have the time, I'll try following up on just this point.

  3. As the author of the post I agree with both commenter�s. My simple goal was to point out that the refining of gasoline is very energy intensive and that data point was missing when they compared electric cars to gas cars.
    Both electric and gas cars have warrantees in the 8 year, 100,000 mile range, and have various pluses and minuses. As just one example an electric moter will outlive a gas engine by a few hundred thousand miles, on the other hand the batteries and their replacement.
    You may be interested to read this cost analysis on solar vs. gasoline, Solar is the way I power my electric Mini-E.
    Mini-E #183, 34,000 sunshine powered miles.