Since its the weekend, I looked at a few numbers regarding CO2 emissions from a regular ICE automobile, versus an electric car charged from a coal-fired power plant.
At a 40% plant thermal efficiency, a coal-fired power plant will emit 810 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (kwh). From wikipedia, a Tesla Model Y will consume 14 kwh every 100 km (62 miles).
(810 gramCO2/kwh) x (14 kwh/62 miles) = 183 grams of CO2 per mile.
A regular gasoline powered car, getting 30 miles per gallon, will emit 293 grams of CO2 per mile.
So, an electric car that gets charged from a 100% coal powered grid will still emit less CO2 per mile than a regular ICE auto. Also, China’s power grid is about 61% coal, and maybe 35% clean sources such as hydro, other renewables, and nuclear.
From the Statistical Review of World Energy…
China fossil fuel consumption, in exajoules
Year Oil Nat Gas Coal
2012 20.36 5.43 80.72
2022 28.16 13.53 88.41
Oil, natural gas and coal consumptions are all growing. Yearly CO2 emissions are going up.
Powering China’s automobile fleet from domestic coal offers more energy security than powering the fleet from imported oil. Such a system also produces less CO2 per mile than gasoline, but it still produces CO2. Given China’s population, and the new transportation capacity that could be added in the coming years, the consumption of fossil fuels of all kinds will continue to grow.
CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, million tonnes
Year N. America Europe Asia-Pacific
2012 6134 4540 15,208
2022 5851 3770 17,955
Change -4.6% -17% +18%
Bottom line: Electric cars emit less CO2 per mile than ICE cars. But China’s growing economy means more fossil fuel consumption of all types. If the Chinese economy stumbles because of a bursting real estate bubble, that stumble may not be permanent, and will also probably not cause the entire economy to collapse.