by A. Watts, Dec 9, 2022 in ClimateChangeDispatch
The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory recently released a study titled, “Assessment of Light-Duty Plug-in Electric Vehicles in the United States, 2010 – 2021,” which shows that in 2021, privately-owned plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) “saved about 690 million gallons of gasoline.”
However, that is a huge exaggeration because fossil fuels provide 61 percent of the electricity in the United States. [emphasis, links added]
This means we have to include the inefficiency of burning coal or natural gas to make electricity(around 45 percent), transmission losses (about 5 percent), and losses in the inverter to charge the battery(another 5 percent).
Considering those losses, less than 33 percent of that apparent savings is a real reduction in fossil fuel use, the equivalent of roughly 230 million gallons of gasoline.
The Argonne study also says that from 2010 to 2021, EVs saved 2.1 billion gallons of gas. So, using the guideline of 61 percent from above, let’s be generous and say that over 11 years, EVs have saved about a third of that, the equivalent of about 750 million gallons of gasoline.
Although 750 million gallons of gasoline sounds like a huge amount, when you put into perspective the larger picture of gasoline use, that savings is actually a drop in the bucket.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), “In 2021, about 134.83 billion gallons (or about 3.21 billion barrels) of finished motor gasoline were consumed in the United States, an average of about 369 million gallons per day (or about 8.80 million barrels per day).”
Using simple arithmetic, dividing those 750 million gallons of gasoline saved from 2010 to 2021 according to the Argonne Lab study, by the daily U.S. consumption of gasoline, we get 750/369 = 2.03 days.