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Are Electric Vehicles environmentally friendly? December 28, 2012

Posted by David Bookstaber in Energy.

Depends on where you charge them. Car and Driver put this useful chart in their July 2012 issue. An electric vehicle is only as environmentally friendly as the generators that charge its battery. (Never mind the distribution overhead and inefficiencies of current batteries.) So unless you’re plugging unto a geothermal or hydroelectric grid your electric vehicle would probably pollute less if it just ran one of the more efficient modern internal combustion engines.


1. Pam - December 31, 2012


2. Dan - January 5, 2013

While I generally agree with the point that people don’t appreciate that electricity is still plenty dirty – there are some futuristic ideas of how an electric fleet could be beneficial over time. Charging at night could provide a flatter and more stable power demand curve which improves the utilization of dirty plants and allows solar or gas plants to assume the peak load. I wonder how much cleaner gas plants are versus gasoline combustion enginers. Speaking of gas – now that we have too much it seems an easy way to reduce our gasoline demand and improve our gas demand. That alone is probably enough justification.

3. federalist - January 8, 2013

Guess it depends in part on what you count as pollution. Global Warmists believe any fossil fuel consumption that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is pollution.

Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, and also currently the cheapest, but coal and oil can be burned virtually as “cleanly” when the latest scrubbers and catalysts are employed.

As for efficiency: State-of-the-art natural gas power plants can run up to 60% efficient, but then there are distribution and other losses getting the electricity from the plant into an electric car’s battery and back out.

Maybe, given how cheap natural gas is right now, this is the most efficient and cost-effective way to power personal vehicles. It’d be easier to tell if the government could keep its hands off the scales.

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