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EV's only as Clean as the Electricity that Drives them

Electric cars are the cleanest form of transport. Obviously more environmentally friendly than any petrol or diesel cars out there…that’s a given fact…isn’t it?

Well not necessarily. According to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists titled ‘State of Charge: Electric Vehicles’ Global Warming Emissions and Fuel Cost Savings Across the United States’, the amount of greenhouse gases released by as a result of charging the battery packs, varies greatly from State to State.

In the report, a hypothetical Nissan Leaf in Los Angeles, California would ‘release’ a very low level of greenhouse gases, roughly equivalent to a gasoline car getting 79 miles per gallon.  Whereas the same car based in Denver, Colorado would have a far higher level of carbon emissions, equivalent to 33 miles per gallon; a large difference.

California’s clean energy mix makes the Nissan Leaf an environmental hero, whereas the coal –based electricity in Denver significantly reduces this claim.

Electric cars are not suitable for everyone. In areas where the electricity is produced from natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, or renewable sources, EV’s can help to reduce CO2 emissions.  However in areas where a large proportion of the electricity is produced by coal power plants, such as it is across much of Middle America, an EV will be responsible for slightly more CO2 emissions than the best petrol or diesel vehicles out there.

For about 45 percent of the US population, an EV will produce lower greenhouse gas emissions than a car capable of 50 mpg; about 37 percent will produce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to a vehicle with 41-50 mpg; and for 18 percent an EV will have the same emission rating as a car with 31-40 mpg.

Customers looking to buy electric vehicles would be advised to find out the source of their electricity before assuming that their purchase will help contribute to saving the planet. As it turns out, EV’s are not always the best option.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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