Coal-fired Transportation

I can remember riding on a train pulled by a coal-fired steam locomotive when I was a kid. I didn’t think I would ride on a coal-fired vehicle in my old age, but WaPo has an article up about electric cars and the coal that runs them.

UPDATE—The real-world effects on the power grid caused by electric vehicles makes my choice of a VW diesel look even more socially/environmentally responsible.

17 thoughts on “Coal-fired Transportation


  1. Now, if our grid was 60-70% nuclear, electric cars would actually be environmentally friendly. Remind me again, why don’t we have more nuclear power plants? It was mostly due to NIMBYism from “environmentalists”, you say? Well, well, well.


    • The problem is that nuclear power looks industrial and is icky radioactive. Most environmentalists don’t get beyond that grade school reaction. People who actually live near the plants love the high-paying jobs and property tax revenue, without any offensive smells or other pollution.

      Nuclear plants are now built like fortresses, with layered security and safety systems. Their safety culture and rigorous training are the envy of the chemical industry. And they are still making a profit. The only government subsidy they get are loan guarantees, since community opposition can stop a plant even after it is finished being built.


    • Broadly speaking I find the cost of your average item (excluding rare things like precious metals, collectable etc.) tends to give me a general idea of how much effort and resources went into making it.
      That (again broadly) tells you what type of effect it would have on the environment (all other thing being equal.)
      The minute I saw the price tag on hybrid cars I went “uh…these things must take a bunch of resources to make an maintain.”


      • I had a conversation with a friend of mine, an engineer, about electric vehicles.

        Setting aside the issue of the local power grid’s capacity, and the resources required, he told me there’s ANOTHER issue with many electric cars. To wit, their depreciation is obscene, because the most expensive part of the car is the battery — and replacing the battery is horrendously involved and nearly as expensive as the car itself.

        In other words, electric vehicles get hit with depreciation even WORSE than your standard internal-combustion vehicle.


    • I think they’d have better luck using electricity to produce a fuel. Toss enough energy into a Fischer-Tropsch process, and you can make anything organic into liquid fuel.


  2. Outside of the very expensive Tesla, there isn’t a pure electric car that has the range for even on round trip commute for me.


  3. OMG!!! It’s like the WaPo almost stumbled into reality here. Electricity isn’t as clean as they thought. Now if they think it through a little more completely they may realize unicorns don’t deliver little droplets of electrical energy as they fly over the moon at nights….

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