Clunkers V’s Spankers – saving energy? or just greenwash – a bushy’s view

A case study in greenwash – an Australian bushies view –
—-US The Spanker for a Clunker scheme uses more energy that it saves—-
Clunkers V’s Spankers NEA (Net Energy Analysis for similar vehicle but newer basis) Calculations viz. replacing Clunkers with Spankers (S4C scheme) [US terms and scheme (also similar schemes are operational in the UK and Japan)]

Aspect The Clunker
TEE (Total Embodied Energy Units) 10
Reuse Energy *
Net Recycle Energy (NRE) 01***
Operational Energy Saving (OES) 01****
Total (∑) lost

Aspect Your new Spanker
TEE (Total Embodied Energy) 10
Reuse Energy **
Net Recycle Energy (NRE)
Operational Energy Saving (OES)
Total (∑) 10 cost

Grand Total (∑∑) Energy Used in one Clunker – Spanker swap over = 19.4 energy units
Source: P Wildman 10-08-2009:

NB: * at least 70% of the car is reusable at least once indicate this potential will not be harvested because the motors are destroyed as part of the C4C US program.** less of the mechanical and electrical systems are field reusable – deliberate design parameter. *** In the US the motors are destroyed so that the vehicle is unsuitable then for the wreckers/reuse/second hand car parts market. A clunker is a vehicle most of which are operating effectively with 95%+ of their parts functioning, that can be field repaired, being replaced by more recent model with marginally better fuel efficiency yet vastly less field serviceability and reusability (shifts costs from the manufacturer to owner – greenwashing) + net energy indicates the energy going into the recycling process inc. transport, heat, equipment, labour, parts separation (generally does not occur) etc. cp. that coming out. My standpoint guesstimate is that recycling takes more energy than it replaces. **** net efficacious OES – relative small as petrol use over life differential 4cyl cp. 4cyl is minimal and field maintenance cannot occur the owner must pay higher garage per hour costs for proprietary maintenance etc.

Observations:(1) To replace a clunker with a spanker will cost 19.4 units of embodied energy cp. 0.3 units to repair the motor of the clunker if that was necessary.
(2) At least as much energy can be saved on the clunker by correct tyre inflations and proper driving behaviour as can be saved by driving the slightly more fuel efficient spanker.
(3) Another approach is to check car exhausts and proscribe changes necessary to meet certain emission standards
(4) The S4C scheme is nothing other than using taxpayers’ dollars (a car owner gets several thousand dollars per clunker ‘recycled’ in this program) to prop up the auto industry a form of tariff that discriminates against the poor and has a massive net environmental loss – often sold as an environmental program – this is a case in unethical behaviour a particularly nasty example of greenwashing.
(5) The issue isn’t the marginal improvement in efficiency (but drop in efficacy) it is the fact both are still petrol – nor does electricity solve anything unless it is solar. The whole shemozzle just distracts us from the main game getting an alternative to petrol that bypasses the petrol cartel and empowers us to reuse and repair as our g’parents did.

Paul Wildman
V4 @ 01-09-2009 comm. 10-08-2009: 500 words


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