I have commented here recently about the current ‘trendiness’ of the electric car. We are being told by the media that it is to be the ‘big thing’ this year – although without digging too deep it is easy to see it won’t be!
The BBC’s recent ‘electric mini to Edinburgh’ farce also highlighted the medias total lack of understanding about electric cars – they are not designed or capable of long distances – so why try?
However all this activity has set me wondering – how green is an electric car once you take our power generation into account in this country? The results make very interesting reading and create even more hurdles for the electric car to jump.
Back in the summer of last year I changed my car, I blogged about it here. I wanted to go ‘greener’ so tried various options, however the upshot was a Volvo V50 diesel. It had reasonable green credentials and importantly emitted 105 g CO2 per km (the newer version is 99 g per km). So how does this compare to an electric car?
There is a general assumption that electric cars are “cleaner” than petrol/diesel/hybrid cars, but electric cars cannot claim to be “emissions free” if they are powered from an energy grid supplied by power stations burning coal or gas. Or even nuclear, for that matter.
Tailpipe emissions for electric cars can be classified legitimately as zero – which is certainly beneficial for an urban environment where local air pollution is a huge problem – but is this pollution simply being displaced meaning that it still ends up in the atmosphere but via the route of a power station’s stack as opposed to the exhaust? And, crucially, is less like-for-like pollution being emitted by using an electric car as opposed to one reliant on the internal combustion engine?
In terms of emissions, over the course of 19 recharges, the average transport cost of an electric car is 21 kWh per 100km – about four times better than an average fossil fuel car.
But, (now the interesting bit);
That’s exactly the same as my Volvo – a car that allows me to go 500 - 600 miles between refills!
Yes, the electric car does not pollute a city atmosphere, and its silent. But perhaps we need to step back and consider the current move to electric cars is perhaps a touch premature?
Now if we had much higher levels of renewable electricity generation that would change things a lot………….