1980-02-01

Efficiency of Coal Use, Electricity for EVs versus Synfuels for ICEs 800109

Data are presented to show how electric vehicles will travel approximately twice as far per ton of coal burned to produce electricity for EV propulsion, than will an ICE vehicle burning the synfuel produced from an equal amount of coal. These figures are based on pessimistic calculations of the efficiencies of electricity generation, transmission, battery charging and EV drivetrains. The synfuel calculations are based on optimistic upper limits of coal conversion efficiency and ICE systems’ efficiencies.
EVs are less harmful to the environment than conventional vehicles. The emissions from coal-burning power plants are more readily controlled than the pollutants from refineries that convert coal to synfuel. The emissions from EVs are negligible, whereas those from ICEs still have not been reduced to the levels originally mandated for 1976.
Synfuels should be reserved mainly for applications for which electricity is impractical or impossible, such as planes, long-haul trucks and buses, and the petrochemical industry.

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