We Don't Use Climate Change As A Billboard

We offer battery operated robotic lawnmowers, and sometimes we advertise the benefits of these on social media. Benefits which include the energy efficiency of these devices, and fact that they don’t burn petrol, and so don’t contribute to air and noise pollution. But when we mention these findings in our social media posts, we sometimes get abused. ‘Rubbish’, they say, and other rude words that we can’t print here. ‘You’re using climate change to sell your mowers’, they say, and ‘what about the coal fired power station that charges the batteries’, ‘what about the emissions created to make the batteries’ etc…, etc… A shame, since most of these comments are inn-informed. Anyone could inform themselves by taking the trouble to do some reading on these topics, and make their own discussion points more interesting. So we decided that we would show the way and help people enlighten their opinions. We discovered some research produced by the US Environmental Protection Authority. It claimed that in one hour of use, a petrol lawnmower created the same emissions of at least 10 cars, and that lawnmowers collectively could contribute up to 5% of all air pollution. Surprised by this finding, we unearthed research from the Australian Government Department of Environment that corroborated these claims.

Comparing Different Sources of Energy

Pulling together research from Lazard, and the US Energy Information Administration, we baselined (small petrol) lawnmower engines against carsdiesel generatorsgas/oil turbinecoal-fired powerwindsolarhydrogeothermalbattery storage, and even nuclear power. Here’s what we’ve come up with.

Comparing The Cost Of Energy Produced

Working out the cost of producing a watt of energy is not as easy as just reading a meter. You need to take into account capital costs, the expected lifetime of the power plant, uptime/downtime, fuel, maintenance, operating costs, and the energy inputs involved in all of the above. Not easy, but to cut a long story short, experts have come up with a benchmark, called ‘Levelised Cost of Energy’ (LCOE). This benchmark is often disputed, so, we had to validate it with an independent measure that we worked out from first principles. And it looked good to us. The numbers are usually published in $USD per kWh. Results are shown below. In order to make it easy to understand, we also show the equivalent to your average suburban car, which runs at about 40kW.

What Does It All Mean?

After doing all of the analysis above, we made some interesting observations:
  • Lawnmowers actually do have 10x the emissions of cars, on a like-for-like basis.
  • Coal-fired power is just as polluting as a petrol mower.
  • But coal-fired power costs 1/200th as much to produce, per kilowatt.
  • Renewables with battery storage are 1/3rd as polluting as coal, at 3x the cost.
  • Renewables without battery storage are 1/50th as polluting as coal, at half the cost.
  • Nuclear energy has similar low emissions to renewables, at about twice the cost.

Want to Know More?

We hope that you find our analysis useful and illuminating. We don’t use climate change as a pennant on which to signal the virtues of our devices. No, we talk about air pollution, fuel consumption, noise and cost. If you don’t like this analysis, do your own and publish it. For now, we’re sticking to our claims. Find out more at robotzoo.com.au.

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