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Leading scientists set out resource challenge of meeting net zero emissions in the UK by 2050

A letter authored by Natural History Museum Head of Earth Sciences Prof Richard Herrington and fellow expert members of SoS MinErals (an interdisciplinary programme of NERC-EPSRC-Newton-FAPESP funded research) has today been delivered to the Committee on Climate Change

The letter explains that to meet UK electric car targets for 2050 we would need to produce just under two times the current total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production.

A 20% increase in UK-generated electricity would be required to charge the current 252.5 billion miles to be driven by UK cars.

Last month, the Committee on Climate Change published a report ‘Net Zero: The UK’s Contribution to Stopping Global Warming’ which concluded that ‘net zero is necessary, feasible and cost effective.’ As a major scientific research institution and authority on the natural world, the Natural History Museum supports the pressing need for a major reduction in carbon emissions to address further catastrophic consequences of climate change. Using its scientific expertise and vast collection of geological specimens, the Museum is collaborating with leading researchers to identify resource and environmental implications of the transition to green energy technologies including electric cars.

A letter which outlines these challenges was delivered to Baroness Brown, who chairs the Adaption Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change.
Read the details at nhm.ac.uk.

Looks like we're going to have to crack ALL the eggs to make this omelette, and borrow some along the way. Now who would have seen that coming?

I do have a side issue with this opener: "net zero is necessary, feasible and cost effective.". Which end of the horse did that come out of? :surprise:
 

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They didn't mention the need to make the zero emission EV earth moving equipment to mine all the minerals first.

It didn't take into account the research and development going on to reduce the usage of some of those elements. Maybe need won't be so great.

Upgrades of infrastructure wiring can be a bit expensive and resource demanding too. They shut down coal burning power plants around here. This lead to other power plants having to produce more electricity and distribute it through the existing grid. This lead the need to put in taller supporting poles for the transmission lines and moving the lines higher off the ground. The lines would have expanded too much (more electricity = more heat = more expansion) and sagged onto lower wires, vegetation, etc., if they hadn't.

There's always a ripple effect.

Has anyone calculated the cost of clean up for decommissioning petrol stations that will no longer be needed?

Some states won't let you pump your own petrol as this would decrease the number of people employed, and reduces exposure to cancer causing chemicals to a subset of the population (yes, you'll find this in official state documents). Will they insist that someone "pump" your EV with electricity (i.e. connect the cable and turn on the charger) as the demand gets higher, or accept higher unemployment?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Saving the Planet With Electric Cars Means Strangling This Desert

Mining lithium and copper to supply the battery boom and fight climate change is wrecking a fragile ecosystem in Chile.


The oases that once interrupted the dusty slopes of the Atacama desert in northern Chile allowed humans and animals to survive for thousands of years in the world’s driest climate. That was before the mining started.

Sara Plaza, 67 years old, can still remember guiding her family’s sheep along an ancient Inca trail running between wells and pastures. Today she is watching an engine pump fresh water from beneath the mostly dry Tilopozo meadow. “Now mining companies are taking the water,” she says, pointing to dead grass around stone ruins that once provided a nighttime refuge for shepherds.

“No one comes here anymore, because there’s not enough grass for the animals,” Plaza says. “But when I was a kid, there was so much water you could mistake this whole area for the sea.”

Atacama has become one of the busiest mining districts on the planet in the intervening decades, following discoveries of massive deposits of copper and lithium. In recent years that mining has intensified, thanks to booming demand for lithium, which is indispensable in the production of rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. Chile exported nearly $1 billion of lithium last year, almost quadruple the export value from four years ago.
Continue reading at Bloomberg.
 

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30 years is a lot of time. Technology is going to change. Think of where cars were in 1990, and technology.

Lithium batteries were laboratory items.
Compression was 9.x:1 not today's 12:1
Turbochargers and automatic transmissions now last the life of the car.
Horsepower doubled.
Fuel economy based of BSFC doubled.
Cars had 1 computer.
Solar power was a freak show.

But it is a bit premature to completely write off ICE tech unless uneducated legislators deem it so. An algae-fueled vehicle is greener than the average EV today.
CO2 pecking order, approximately:

EV running off solar, wind, hydro, etc. (net zero)
Compression engine running off algae.
Spark engine running off alcohol.
EV running off natural gas.
Fuel Cell car running natural gas.
Digital diesel engine running natural gas (SynDiesel or CNG/LNG)
Digital diesel engine running #2.
EV running off coal.
Direct injection gasoline hybrid.
 

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The best interim step is plug-in hybrids and good hybrids. The Prius gets 45mpg real world mixed driving like an idiot, compared to the Corolla at maybe 32 driven like an idiot. So 50% improvement with a tiny battery and small motor. The same treatment across all models would massively cut emissions. Then you go for the plug-in hybrid model. Now you're getting many more MPG. Maybe 150-300, and even better if work has a charger, even a 120v one. Next step is the Volt/i3 REX, which can do 99% of driving without gas and only need it for long trips. Finally you get the EVs. The Obama-era mileage goals are totally reachable. Even a crap-ass hybrid like what Ram puts out gets an additional 10% mileage while boosting performance. This is exactly what regulations are for, to force the issue that everybody with a brain knows needs to happen. Then the push for EVs won't seem so pressing, and we can grow into it.
 

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The best interim step is plug-in hybrids and good hybrids. The Prius gets 45mpg real world mixed driving like an idiot, compared to the Corolla at maybe 32 driven like an idiot. So 50% improvement with a tiny battery and small motor. The same treatment across all models would massively cut emissions. Then you go for the plug-in hybrid model. Now you're getting many more MPG. Maybe 150-300, and even better if work has a charger, even a 120v one. Next step is the Volt/i3 REX, which can do 99% of driving without gas and only need it for long trips. Finally you get the EVs. The Obama-era mileage goals are totally reachable. Even a crap-ass hybrid like what Ram puts out gets an additional 10% mileage while boosting performance. This is exactly what regulations are for, to force the issue that everybody with a brain knows needs to happen. Then the push for EVs won't seem so pressing, and we can grow into it.
I know, it all sounds so sensible. Until you realize that most people who buy plug-in hybrids don't bother with the plugging part.

I owned an A3 etron for three years. Great car, super sensible, perfect for my commute which was just barely fully covered by the battery (and I did plug it in) .. but in the end, it's a compromise. I'm not sure that PHEVs will ever command a large market share.

Better charging, better batteries will slowly but surely turn the tide towards EVs. So yes, I agree with the growing part. It'll take at least a generation, if not two.
 

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I owned a '73 Pontiac Catalina that sat 8 people and got 21MPG highway and 15 in the city. Current car is a Fusion with a 4 cyl turbocharged engine and gets 19 city and 28 highway. It's criminal that 46 years have seen such little progress in fuel economy. The auto and gas companies are actively fighting to keep us addicted to gas while we keep buying SUVs and trucks that are terribly inefficient. The consumer must change to force the auto makers to stop building 700 horsepower vehicles and government regulations will push them in the right direction.
 

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I've never been convinced that driving a BEV (especially a crazy expensive one) is going to 'save the planet'. For every advantage in one area there is likely an equally important disadvantage in another. We simply trade one problem for another and no one truly knows the bottom line on the future outcome of either of those problems. We simply make our best educated guess. The biggest problem with those educated guesses is, that history has proven time and again, that they are wrong nearly as often as they are right.

I'm not sure we will ever get to the bottom line of which car is ultimately 'better' for the planet when taking the whole of the car from inception to finished project to the land-fill/recycle farm into consideration, but looking at greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is all the rage these days, so let's start there.

The US Dept. of Energy has developed a nifty little tool that estimates the GHG for all cars, including BEVS. There calculations skew the data in favor of BEVS because for ICEVs they calculate total the emissions rate including tailpipe emissions and the emissions associated with the production and distribution of fuel. For BEVs they simply use the calculated emissions associated with electric operation/generation. I have to believe the production/distribution of the batteries has a fair amount of GHG, but it isn't included.

Nevertheless, punching in my zip code, my I-Pace is estimated to 'produce' 320 g/mile of CO2, whereas a new ICEV would be about 410 g/mile. An I-Pace in Denver is at 400 g/mile, which is pretty darn close to ICEV. Out in California they have electricity figured out, as the I-Paces in San Francisco, Los Angeles & San Diego all only put our 150 g/mile...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The US Dept. of Energy has developed a nifty little tool that estimates the GHG for all cars, including BEVS. There calculations skew the data in favor of BEVS because for ICEVs they calculate total the emissions rate including tailpipe emissions and the emissions associated with the production and distribution of fuel. For BEVs they simply use the calculated emissions associated with electric operation/generation. I have to believe the production/distribution of the batteries has a fair amount of GHG, but it isn't included.
What about non-tailpipe particulates?
 

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Addendum: Are all those trendy Tesla owners in Silicon Valley going to be able to charge their cars? Should we add even more EVs in California?
 

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The power issues are from running ac in the day, not evs at night during low demand periods when power plants are essentially idling. If you took away all the night charging evs, you would see little to no difference in ghge. Plus a lot of us ev people have solar.
 

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The California Public Utilities Commission moved the Peak TOU window for businesses starting in March from the day time (solar production hours), to the evening time when many businesses are closed.
At 2 PM, the highest AC load of the day, power is the cheapest. Go figure.

This allows them to buy solar power for less money by making the rate cheapest when solar is the most active.
 
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