Green Energy, Electric Vehicles (and Telsa) - Future or Nonsense

Telsa will reveal details on the Model 3 in the near future and I can’t wait to hear again about amazing new features. I’m more interested in how close it gets to a potential “first car”, though.
I’m still studying and I think it will take some time until I can afford a car or even need one. But I like the idea of not having to go for an old, dirty car, struggling to get on top of a hill, so I will buy my first car as late as possible. I can still use my parents’ one, so no problem there…

As I’m very happy about Teslas looking better than traditional fueled cars, I’m concerned about it’s eco-friendliness. Many people say that manufacturing an EV is worse for the environment than fueling a car with fossil energy. I honestly have no idea if this is true, maybe you know more than me? But whatever the answer is, I think that electric Vehicles are closer to a clean future than what we have now. Same with green energy. It might not be enough to cover our needs now, but if we start to use it partly, we can research more easily. What do you think?

An electric car is basically fueled by coal, since that’s the most abundant fossil fuel in North America.

If all that you’re doing is “driving around town,” such that you can afford to buy an entire car just for this one purpose, it might save a moderate amount of emissions. But we don’t have the infrastructure nor the electrical capacity for such cars to become widely used.

Concerning infrastructure, the only downside for EVs seems to be the charging time. It takes half an hour for a Tesla to almost fully charge at a super charger. A fossil fueled car needs about 5 minutes and can do about twice the distance of a Tesla charge.
On our family trips to Italy or Romania, we need to visit a gas station once. If we would charge a Tesla the night before, it would be the same. Most people charge their phone at night, so why not the car, too? Let’s assume, in a few years there is a super charger at every three gas stations next to the autobahn/highway. We could take our usual 5-15 minute breaks at those locations and charge the car at the same time instead of just parking. This way there would be no difference in time. Am I wrong on this?
In my home town, there are currently about 17 charging stations for 1-4 cars. Every parking garage has one and the University 2. Some of the biggest employers have those in their own garages, too. So everywhere you are in the city, as tourist, worker, or student, you can charge. Workers and students for free.

I don’t know about the capacity, but I heard that in the UK there are companies researching on building roads that charge cars while driving.
And when we need more capacity, we should aim for a high green energy percentage. Google says it’s 30% in Germany. It would be a great opportunity to only use renewable forms of energy for future expansion.

Please don’t interpret my answers as an attack, it might sound different when translated to English. I just want to throw every thought out there to learn about facts and opinions. Thanks for responding and giving me stuff to think about.

Most of the time, when I talk to people, they say, it’s not worth getting something more eco-friendly, because we don’t reach the end goal with it, it’s not the final solution. I find it kind of depressing.
In Germany, people also complain that there are only automatic EVs, taking them away the fun in driving. But I love not thinking about changing gears.

An interesting presentation of a very talented inventor Mate Rimac - How We Build The World’s Fastest Car… his Concept1 finally made it into production, presented at Geneva 2016 (source)

Capacity is all around… Earth is a dynamo. The problem mainly lies in the habit and weakness of it’s major occupants and inefficient (greedy) infrastructure.

There is solar energy and technology is like wine, getting better every year.

While it is true that electric cars are fueled by coal, they’re still more efficient than internal combustion. I’ve heard somewhere that a car wastes enough thermal energy to heat several average homes.

Even if this isn’t true, there is a lot of heat generated by a conventional engine, all that is energy not being user to move the car forward.

Yep, that’s an important point - burning fossil fuels in a power plant is way better for the environment than burning the same fuel in a car. There are many reasons, from the more efficient use of thermal energy to the more advanced filtering of the emissions, but generally Fuel->Power Plant->Electric Car is better than Fuel->Regular Car.
Also, as mentioned by Cebbi, Germany has a rather large percentage of renewable energy - depending on where you live, you might even have 100% renewable energy in your local grid.
As for Future or Not - at some point, the current, fossil-combustion based car definitely will fall in popularity at some point - due to either rising prices for fossil fuels or due to tax benefits (at least in Germany). The new standard will probably be either battery-based electric cars, or hydrogen-based cars (either through fuel cells or combustion).
Another point that many people don’t know is that electric cars are really cool - I got to drive the electric car of a relative recently (a VW E-Up) and it’s really fun to drive.

The problem with combustion is that you cannot use electrolysis to get the hydrogen unless we have a good renewable energy source, or a source that is so tremendously efficient that we can afford to essentially throw it away in the name of convenience. This latter scenario would have to be something like large scale fusion or antimatter, though this promise was likewise given for fission in the 20th century. The problem with combustion is you’re essentially taking apart a hydrogen source and putting it back together again. This will naturally be a lossy process since some energy will be lost as heat on both sides of the system.

If we had an energy source that was so plentiful, inexpensive and easily obtained without negative impact to human health or the environment, we could just say efficiency is less important than being able to bottle up that energy and take it with us: we’ll just dump all this nearly free energy into electrolysis and power cars with water. This is assuming that powering cars this way is more efficient per distance than a battery … again, heat.

I suppose you could get hydrogen from something like methane. If you did that then for every molecule of methane you’d get four atoms of hydrogen which you would need only two of which for combustion. But my guess from high school chemistry is that you’ll use more energy breaking the hydrogen-carbon bond than you’d get by oxidizing hydrogen back into water by a significant margin.

I’m not sure about the manufacturing process of EV’s and how much damage it does to the environment. I’ve listened to some of Elon Musks speeches at events and he always seems to have a serious concern for the planet and humanity, he understands the damage industries do to the environment and makes note of it. It may be due to his past in South Africa and seeing the ugly nature of the society here that has helped shape his opinions, I don’t know.

There are some interesting developments in the biofuel market, I read a story about a 15 year old girl in the US that created a biofuel in her room from plankton, bacteria or something which apparently had similar fuel efficiency to petroleum. This was a few years back however.

There is also those variable magnetic motors in Japan being experimented with, which makes use of a small battery ot kickstart the magnets, then the magnets generates it’s on power and also recharges the battery. The magnets keep spinning, when breaking it shifts away from each other. They tested it on motorbike frames, the top speed was around 120km I think, which is all many countries need for highways.

The future for road vehicles is hydrogen power, it could be fuel cells or specially designed internal combustion engines bruning hydrogen gas with oxygen rather than the current burning of hydrocarbon fuels with oxygen. Hydrogen however cannot be drilled from a well like petrol or diesel* can, nor can it be grown in a field or bioreactor as biodiesel* can. Hydrogen therefore must be derived from materials like water using electrolysis or other similar means. This requires an energy input either from renewables (which are a bit weak when it comes to power outputs) or from nuclear energy (statistically the safest power generation means in existence, compared to hundreds of hydroelectric, coal, gas and oil disasters there have been VERY FEW nuclear ones, and the media has hyped those few to be a lot worse than they really were), hopefully fusion reactors will reach breakeven sometime in the next few decades, they would do wonderfully producing the electricity needed to power electrolysis stations. The reason for hydrogen’s superiority over battery based means of powering vehivles is that hydrogen has a much greater joules per kilogram energy density, you can go a lot further with a given mass of hydrogen than you can with that mass of batteries. Also hydrogen can be filled into a car’s fuel tank in a matetr of minutes, where electric systems are highly impractical taking hours to charge. THE ONLY thing preventing hydrogen cars being in common use today is the lack of hydrogen infrastrture, but simply insisting that every petrol station is to install one hydrogen pump would be enough to cure this.

*Fun fact, when Rudolf diesel invented this engine he planned that it would burn biodiesel, from various oil crops. The only reason that the engines were then altered (and barely altered) to be optimized for fossil fuels was that in that decade fossil fuels were cheaper than growing oil crops.

I see the future as a mix of many small systems that work well in their own use case.

like solar powered homes charging electric cars, or solar powered homes growing algae instead of having solar panels, and producing diesel using sunshine +(gasification and the fischer tropsch process)

Some may have wind mills, some may have wave generators, or tidal, it’s all about exploiting a niche without hurting the world.

Not nonesense if Time Machine will exist.