As I become more of a proponent of electric vehicles, I forget that I was once firmly against them.
It took me a long time to hop on the EV bandwagon, because I wasn’t convinced the problems of limited range, questionable cold-weather reliability and the lack of charging infrastructure could be overcome.
As the years passed I’ve become more convinced that electric cars have a place. They certainly aren’t replacements for the family road-trip vehicle, but they are perfectly suitable vehicles for commuting back and forth to work.
My biggest problem with electric cars, though, remains unaddressed.
I’ve always wondered if electric cars really are less polluting than gas cars because of the pollution generated by the production of the electricity that charges those gas-free batteries. According to a new study, the answer depends on how the electricity is produced.
The study found that:
electric vehicles powered by electricity from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power are best for improving air quality, whereas vehicles powered by corn ethanol and coal are the worst.
No surprise there, right? The problem is that most electricity in this country is created from coal. In fact 39 percent of electricity produced in this country is generated from coal.
Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study, was quoted as saying,
It’s kind of hard to beat gasoline. A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean… are not better than gasoline.
Sadly, an electric car fueled by coal-powered electricity will produce 3.6 times more environmental deaths than gas.
So if you want to contribute to a cleaner environment, the best thing you can do is drive an electric car fueled by wind and solar energy. The second best thing you can do is find yourself a good, inexpensive gas-powered car and reap the benefits of knowing you’re driving cleaner than about a third of the EVs on the road.
If you want to save the environment, will you drive an electric or gas-powered car?