Friday, July 04, 2008

Green Energy Ain't So Green When You Consider The Green It Costs To Be Green

Green vs. GasThe Calgary Herald ran a story yesterday about a gentleman who is "beating high gas prices" by driving a converted electric vehicle. Here are a couple of excerpts from that article, along with some facts people need to sit up and listen to before jumping on the green bandwagon of alternative forms of power for automobiles.
John Littauer doesn't sweat the annual summer spike in gas prices.While the rest of us fret about record-high prices at the pumps, Littauer silently whizzes to work in a battery-powered Porsche, immune to the volatility of the global demand for oil. In the past five years, Littauer has not spent one cent on gasoline and virtually nothing on maintenance for his 1972 Porsche 914, other than body work to repair the 36-year-old sports car. He can drive at highway speeds with all the acceleration he needs and can go about 50 kilometres between battery charges -- plenty of distance, he says, for average city driving.
His cost to plug in and recharge the 24 deep-cycle batteries that power the vehicle is about the same as operating a refrigerator for one year. Other than some bearings, brushes and brakes, his car has few moving parts to fix. "It's basically a glorified go-cart," says Littauer, who owns a local electric technology company. [thus the reason for his exoburance?]
He's so charged up about battery-powered vehicles that he also has an electric Honda CRX, a hybrid scooter and just took delivery of a battery-powered 1978 Porsche 928. "This is definitely the future," says Littauer, who has had all of his cars converted to battery power by mechanics in British Columbia.
Randy Holmquist of Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd., who did the conversion on Littauer's Honda, says business is booming at his shop on Vancouver Island. "It has hit and it has hit hard," says Holmquist, a former marine mechanic who has been doing electric vehicle conversions for nearly two decades. A year ago, he was converting fewer than two vehicles a month. Today, he is averaging three a week. "For us, that is phenomenal growth." ...
Holmquist, who also builds small electric trucks and electric airport runway equipment, says conversion kits cost $10,000 to $12,000 with another $3,000 to $4,000 required for batteries. That can easily skyrocket, depending on the type of batteries installed. ...
Littauer sent it [his Honda] to Holmquist to be converted at a cost of about $15,000. His two Porsches were converted by another B.C. mechanic, one at a cost of $15,000 and the other at a cost of $30,000. Considering operation and maintenance is virtually free, Littauer says they are worth every penny, even with their limited range of up to 60 kilometres. By never letting his batteries discharge more than 50 per cent, he says they could last up to 10 years.
Let's crunch some numbers and see how good it is to be green... and how many green dollars it costs to be green... and if being this kind of green is really green at all.

Conversion cost:
$15,000.00 -- average (with mid-tier batteries)
Annual maintenance costs:
Very generously allowing $0 for maintenance
Fuel/Power costs:
Littauer says he drives up to 97 miles between charges
476 kWh x $0.08 avg
This calculation made by using the EarthCare formula & a new Sears fridge.
Useful life before replacing batteries:
5-6 years
Cost of replacing batteries:
Cost of battery disposal:
Assuming lithium-ion batteries are used
10-year total cost of ownership:


Conversion cost:
Annual maintenance costs:
$1000 for oil/filter changes
$3000 to rebuild motor once in 10 yrs
$800 misc belts, hoses, spark plugs etc.
Fuel/Power costs:
Avg person drives 33 miles per day or 12,045 miles/yr
1972 Porsche 914 = 30 MPG
Gallons per year = 401.5
Avg fuel price over 10 yrs cannot be calculated, so I'm using today's US avg for UL = $4.110
Useful life before replacing engine:
8-10 years
10-year total cost of ownership:

Green Energy Ain't So Green When You Consider The Green It Costs To Be GreenTotal savings over ten years = $2120.00
Average savings per year = $212.00

Assuming their are no other hidden costs in owning the electric vehicle, Mr. Littauer will save approximately $215.00 each year with his primary battery powered vehicle. He can't drive more than 100 miles without recharging. If he goes on a trip, he must find someone willing to allow him to plug in to the electrical grid. There are advantages as well. He doesn't have to worry much about the soaring price of gasoline.
So, is it really worth it to be this kind of green? IMO, green energy ain't so green when you consider the green it costs to be green.


Anonymous said...

From a purely selfish standpoint, these calculations are quite accurate. Assuming your only interest is what it costs YOU. However, do not forget the benefit to the environment, the fact that about $15,000+ is no longer going to middle-eastern oil exporting countries, and you are doing your part to "save the world".

Anonymous said...

why not just forget "going green" and maintain our polulting lifestyle???
the batteries can be improved. disposal methods can improved as well. the going green 'revolution' (my word) has just begun. efficiency of methods and practices can only improve.
try to think out of the box.
why are most conservatives (of which i am one) so negative about moving away from oil????