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Electric Cars could triple demand on scare water resources

Original post made by a on Mar 12, 2008

Thirsty Hybrid And Electric Cars Could Triple Demands On Scarce Water Resources
ScienceDaily (Mar. 11, 2008) — Eco-minded drivers in drought-prone states take note: A new study concludes that producing electricity for hybrid and fully electric vehicles could sharply increase water consumption in the United States.

See article: Web Link

Comments (17)

Posted by Bogus, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Not enough information in this article to determine validity. It basically states that some electricity comes from water resources while gasoline mostly does not. The same argument could be used against electric lights instead of oil lanterns.

Each mile driven with electricity consumes about three times more water (0.32 versus 0.07-0.14 gallons per mile) than with gasoline, the study found.

Posted by EE, a resident of University South
on Mar 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Electric autos powered from the grid are effectively fueled by the following mix:

48.4% coal
21.7% natural gas
19.3% nuclear
6.0% hydro
1.6% petroleum
3.0% wind, solar, geothermal, biomass

Source: Web Link

This being a rather high-carbon, high pollution blend of fuels, plug-in electric autos can hardly be considered clean. The immediate effect of adding a fleet of them will be more carbon emissions from coal and natural gas power plants.

Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 12, 2008 at 3:19 pm

You also need to consider what they are replacing. Gas vehicles pollute more than an electric car with coal as its generation source according to

Web Link

see point #2

Posted by An Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2008 at 4:20 pm

No mention of using that evil power source Nuclear. It dosen't emit CO2 or radioactive material and mercury like coal does so I guess it is bad. It could use that bad recycled water also.

Cars are bad and should be eliminated since the model T had accidents and wasnt reliable.

What a strange article that was and was probably sponsored by the gas engine companies.

Posted by Bogus, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2008 at 4:51 pm

About this time the usual right wing nut cases chime in that Nuclear is the only solution and start ranting about how liberals and government bureaucrats have kill Nuclear Power. I don't disagree that Nuclear Power is part of the solution but you don't hear of any of the power companies submitting plans for new nuclear reactors. Two weeks of Exxon-Mobil profits pays for a new nuclear facility so I have to conclude that there still isn't a business model for nuclear over natural gas or coal electric power facilities. When there is a real Carbon tax, perhaps the business case for Nuclear would be stronger.

Posted by EE, a resident of University South
on Mar 12, 2008 at 6:34 pm

"You also need to consider what they are replacing. Gas vehicles pollute more than an electric car with coal as its generation source according to" -RS

Correct. And as they point out, some form of hybrid is the clear way to go in the near term. My point is that, contrary to widely held beliefs, grid-powered electrics are not pollution-free. The ideal solution is probably electric cars charged on solar during the day.

Posted by Recycle, a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2008 at 3:44 am

It's time to use recycled water!!!

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2008 at 6:51 am

All water is recycled.
Most hydro plants follow the demand curve, essentially shutting to a minimum at night. Anyone who has boated below a dam knows the signs that water flow can increase at any time.

Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 13, 2008 at 10:33 am

There can't be a realistic business model for nuclear power because liberals and government bureaucrats have killed nuclear power. (BTW, the share holders of Exxon-Mobil may have other plans for their profits.) The carbon tax won't make for a "business" plan. It will make for forced regulatory plans by which no one will profit--except Gore and some government bureaucrats.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2008 at 11:30 am

I remember a similar debate when I was considering cloth diapers for my then newborn back in 1991 in the middle of the drought years. I was told that there was plenty of room in landfills for disposable diapers but that for the 2 to 3 years I would be using cloth diapers I would be using a huge amount of water washing them, either myself or using a diaper service.

It seems that all "green" ideas have pros and cons. I heard recently about somewhere north of San Francisco where the residents had been told to seriously reduce their water consumption because of all the new consumers in the area. They must have done a good job because now their rates have gone up because there have been lack of enough income at the water utility that they are not making enough to pay their expenses. It seems we just can't win whichever way we look at it.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2008 at 12:06 pm

I hope you didn't use the diaper service. I have never been convinced commercial laundering was sanitary enough for a baby. Why not re-use toilet paper? Mothers need all the help they can get, specifically including relief from guilt. We need rational decisions on water use and conservation, not Bambi biology, Ludd influenced silliness. Engineers are the best environmentalists. Environmentalists are the worst engineers.

Posted by Engineer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2008 at 3:03 pm

At least there are some engineers on this blog, now, who are willing to discuss the actual merits and demerits of electric vehicles. I happened to get involved, when I read about the electric trains between N. Cal. and S. Cal. There are many misconceptions among the general public.

There is no energy free lunch. The engineers are are trying to make this point, I think.

Posted by WalterWatcher, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm

"Engineers are the best environmentalists. Environmentalists are the worst engineers."

Almost got it right, Walter, but it's:
Environmental engineers are the best environmentalists. Mechanical and electrial engineers (like yourself) are the worst - they think they know, but they're clueless. It's like asking a GP to do surgery - just because he has an MD, it doesn't make him qualified.

My advice - stick to Iraq & Iran, Walt, subjects where everyone's an "expert".

Posted by Another Engineer, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 13, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Speaking of engineers, I recommend the links in the first comment of the thread "New battery lasts 10 times as long." If its authors have done their sums correctly using the right data and methods, it is a very revealing comparison of powerplant options.

Advance disclosure: The second comment is mine.

Posted by a, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 14, 2008 at 11:26 am

Recycled, I don't want recycled water because there are too many people are eating too many strange drugs. I don't want their drugs in my water. Web Link. We pollute the environment and ourselves and in turn everyone else, yuck.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2008 at 12:25 pm

WaltWatcher, I will stake my half century of saving energy, reducing pollution and maintaining water quality with engineering assessment and solutions against vapid luddism any time. Environmental engineering is a subset of my profession, and generally engineering lite. Capital is a resource, and disipating capital on good feel, low yield projects is wasteful.

Posted by Green is for Money, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 14, 2008 at 2:24 pm

vapid luddism - I like that one haven't heard that in sometime but it is truly fitting of the eco freak save the planet peddlers.

Ahronld is a vapid neo-luddist to be sure - "be green like me"
I only wish I had that kind of green.

While moving his G-IV 5x per week back and forth Sacramento to Santa Monica.
Now that takes some green.

The truth is most "environmental engineers" are quick on shortsighted solutions and absent in critical thinking for real sustainability.

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