Are electric vehicles cleaner than petrol, diesel when run from coal grid? | RenewEconomy

Are electric vehicles cleaner than petrol, diesel when run from coal grid?

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Recent study shows electric vehicles emit less carbon emissions than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles even when charged off a largely coal-powered grid.

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Electric Vehicle in Park Charging station in UK Street
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The Driven

A particular point of misinformation commonly bandied about by electric vehicle naysayers is that there is no point investing in an EV to reduce carbon emissions if you charge it off a coal-powered grid.

Statements like these muddy the argument for clean transport and confuse the public about a transition that could have a significant impact on carbon emissions, considering that transport accounts for nearly one-fifth of carbon emissions in Australia.

But more importantly, they are also completely wrong.

A recent study published by researcher Ryan Cornell of Harvard University shows that electric vehicles emit less carbon emissions than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles even when charged off a largely coal-powered grid.

Using the Argonne full lifecycle model, which accounts for battery and vehicle manufacturing as well as a standardised 150,000 miles (about 240,000km) life, an average ICE vehicle will emit around 69 metric tonnes in its lifetime.

But an EV, in a state like Wyoming which is almost completely powered by coal, will only produce 66 metric tonnes if the vehicle is made by a manufacturer using a grid that is 13% renewables (the US national average).

And of course, the more renewables the better.

To read the full story on RenewEconomy’s electric vehicle dedicated site, The Driven, click here…

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3 Comments
  1. lin 9 months ago

    It should also be mentioned that vehicle exhausts, which emit large amounts of pollution in the middle of our most densely populated areas, impose a very significant cost onto our healthcare systems, totaling an estimated several billion per year in Australia. Coal burning power stations tend not to be in densely populated areas.

  2. Ken Fabian 9 months ago

    Those suggesting that growth of EV’s is of limited benefit because of existing coal power seem to be ignoring the obvious – that electricity supply is undergoing rapid change. The harshest critics of EV’s tend to be the harshest critics of RE and the harshest critics of RE are the harshest critics of climate science and climate action.

    Whether EV’s come first or RE comes first they complement each other extremely well and will grow together as much as they will grow separately.

    One connected EV could power a home in a blackout. A million connected EV’s could power a city. Smart charging and intelligent vehicle to grid systems will smooth the bumps and jumps in supply and demand for the grid and help it accommodate variable Wind and Solar supply to best effect. EV’s and RE are a combination that has potential for much more than simply reducing vehicle emissions.

  3. Jon Knight 9 months ago

    many of the reports claiming ICE is cleaner assume petrol just pops out of the ground at the servo.
    no extraction, shipping, 5Kw of electricity to refine a gallon, none of it.

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