Skip to comments.Will buying an electric car make an environmental difference?
Posted on 04/04/2011 3:01:04 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Sure, you might get a carpool sticker and a tax break. But if you buy an electric car, will it make much environmental difference?
Experts say that depends on three factors: What were you driving before? How is your electricity generated? And how many other electric cars are going to be sold?
In many cases, people who trade gasoline-powered cars for electric ones won't be dramatically lessening the smog they emit. But when it comes to global warming, even when emissions from generating the electricity are taken into account, electric vehicles have a much smaller carbon footprint than gas-powered vehicles because they are much more efficient. However, it will take a decade or more until enough electric vehicles are on the road to make a significant impact.
"If you have a person who is driving a nice, newer car, having them switch to an electric car, there isn't going to be much benefit in reducing smog," said Tom Cahill, a professor emeritus of physics at UC Davis. "But there could be a whole lot of gain in climate change."
Because all-electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf burn no fossil fuels, and plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt burn only small amounts of gasoline, tailpipe emissions from electric cars are basically zero. In smoggy cities like Los Angeles, driving one on summer days may actually clean the air because the tailpipe emissions contain less pollution than the air.
Yet most people currently buying electric cars weren't driving old, smog-belching vehicles. They are often affluent motorists who drove newer-model gasoline cars. And because California has for 50 years had the toughest tailpipe standards in the nation, a 2010 gasoline-burning car puts out only 2 percent or less of the pollution spewed by a 1980s model.
(Excerpt) Read more at mercurynews.com ...
Odd, I have heard just the opposite.
Most electric cars will be powered by coal.
But these cars that have a lower carbon footprint are powered by unicorns and good vibes.
Points for remembering to say "climate change" in lieu of "global warming", Professor Cahill. But we're still laughing. Another example of bovine flatulence from the hallowed halls of academe, where the buffaloed roam and never is heard a dissenting word.
I suppose that the proponents of the electric roller skates “feel” that the electricity that will charge the not-quite-so “eco-friendly” batteries will be delivered by the “Electric Bunny” (or Electric Fairy), right? No “carbon footprint” there if I’m not mistaken.
Not burning gasoline here just means someone in China gets to burn it. These guys never do real world economics.
Since AGW is a fraud, the carbon footprint argument is meaningless. Considering cradle to grave environmental impact, the electrics may have more impact due to the creation and ultimate disposal of batteries. Then of course most will be powered by coal anyway so we are back to the drawing board.
"Kind of" an intersting name. Tom McCahill used to be an automotive writer back in the Goodle Days.
How far we have fallen! I miss those days!
“...even when emissions from generating the electricity are taken into account, electric vehicles have a much smaller carbon footprint than gas-powered vehicles because they are much more efficient.”
Carbon dioxide emissions (not that they really matter) and energy efficiency are two different (if related) things.
Internal combustion engines are (if I remember correctly) about 30% efficient, maybe a bit better if running close to their thermodynamic ideal. Using electric energy to power a drive train is, in fact, a lot more efficient, in terms of the fraction of the total energy that ends up moving the vehicle (somewhere in the neighborhood of 80%, if I remember correctly).
BUT the energy in the battery doesn’t magically appear there - it has to be generated somewhere. If it comes from a coal-fired plant (our most common generation source), you’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70% energy wasted in generation losses and transmission losses, which wipes out the benefits described above.
Now if you’re getting your electrons from nukes, it’s a different story - no greenhouse gases, little generation loss, mostly just transmission losses.
But I don’t think people pushing electric cars are going to lobby for a whole bunch of new nuclear plants.
It’s going to be terrible for the environment, think of all those Energizer Bunnies it will take to run them all!
Take your “Carbon Footprint” and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.
I like electric cars, they let you know who’s not right without having to talk to them. (paraphrase of an old Hank Hill saying regarding piercings.)
I use recycled electrons, regardless.