Posting in Energy
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has analyzed how emissions generated from charging electric vehicles compares to gasoline-powered vehicles. The conclusion: even coal-fueled electricity is a cleaner alternative.
Scientists have analyzed how emissions generated from charging electric vehicles compare to gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States. The conclusion: even coal-fueled electricity is a cleaner alternative.
The report, "State of Charge: Electric Vehicles' Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States," was published today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). It breaks down how regional differences in how electricity is made affect reducing global warming emissions and fuel savings.
A key finding was that an EV would be a greener choice than most conventional automobiles even in areas where power plants are dependent upon fossil fuels. The worst case was emissions equivalent to a 33-MPG compact car.
USC uncovered that nearly half of Americans live in the most ideal regions where grid conditions make EVs even more efficient than even gasoline hybrids. EVs in those areas have lower global warming emissions than a 50-MPG hybrid.
"This report shows drivers should feel confident that owning an electric vehicle is a good choice for reducing global warming pollution, cutting fuel costs, and slashing oil consumption," said Don Anair, the report's author and senior engineer for UCS's Clean Vehicles Program.
UCS was founded in in 1969 by a group of scientists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote the use of science for public interest. It is strongly opposed to any political interference in scientific research.
Dr. James McCarthy, a biological oceanography professor at Harvard University, is current chairperson of UCS. The group has supported a moratorium on new coal power plants, and advocates for the development of new technologies to combat climate change.
(Image credits: UCS)
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Apr 16, 2012
Recently proposed EPA regulations will effectively ban any new coal plants, and slowly squeeze out any existing ones. With the recent discoveries of vast reserves of natural gas, most utilities are not putting up much of a fight. Only the coal industry is fighting it. As the power industry switches to natural gas from coal, the power grid will become a lot cleaner. Plus, as noted by others here, many states have implemented renewable requirements of 15% or more within 10 years. On the downside, natural gas economics are effectively killing any new nuclear power plants and as current nuclear plants are retired, they will be largely replaced with natural gas.
I'm interested in why the Central Plains have such bad grid electricity. I know they have been talking for years (and slowly moving on it) for a Nuclear plant in south central Iowa, and they have been working on small scale wind farms, but I didn't realize we were that dirty. We have our first solar cells here in my town thanks to a coworker taking the plunge at least.
If you live in Iowa like I do, take note that MidAmerican Energy expects to have 29% of its generating capacity attributed to wind by the end of 2012. Still, coal is the largest source of our power. . .for now. The UCS study is very interesting and debunks to a large extent the myth that EVs are worthless in the Midwest. I've been struggling to figure out whether to make my next car a hybrid or an EV/plug-in hybrid. This helps me think it through even more.