Electric Cars Aren’t Really All That Green, say Scientists

October 21, 2009 / 4 Comments

electric cars5 Electric Cars Arent Really All That Green, say Scientists
Electric cars have been hailed as the modern, non-polluting vehicles, but it’s too early to shower them with all the praise, say scientists. In fact, if things don’t change dramatically, electric vehicles may not be very green even in 2030. The problem of course doesn’t lie entirely in the zero-emission electric cars, it has more to do with the generation of electricity for the vehicles.

A report titled “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use” released by the US National Research Council says electric cars may not be as green as they are made out to be. The problem is, that nearly half of electricity in the USA is generated by coal fired plants, which emits a number of major pollutants into the air. Burning more coal to power more electric cars isn’t a likely solution, so unless renewable energy sources or nuclear energy are used to generate more power, the situation isn’t likely to change much, even by 2030.

Another issue is that materials required for electric cars are tougher to produce. Environmental costs of producing electric cars can be nearly 20% higher than electric cars. In 2005, electric vehicles cost the environment 0.20 cents to 15 cents per vehicle mile traveled, while conventional vehicles fared better with 0.34 cents to 5.04 cents per vehicle mile traveled. Unless manufacturing efficiencies become much greater, the problem will continue to persist. The report found that gasoline-electric hybrids with systems like regenerative braking were better compared to all-electric vehicles, and conventional vehicles.

Source: Reuters


  • john

    “Environmental costs of producing electric cars can be nearly 20% higher than electric cars.”

    lol, wut? Also, would they still be less environmentally friendly than combustion-engine cars if I already have nuclear power? I thought this was only a problem for those who cling to coal and other dirty energy sources.

  • kwassegreen.blogspot.com

    I love the article but I cant say its surprising. out of all of the new green technology being experimented with in the transportation sector, I still believe bio diesel is the most practical in the short and long term.

  • kwassegreen.blogspot.com

    Well I don’t think this is surprising to anyone. Of all the new transportation technology only bio diesel seems practical to me. When you look at how inefficient electricity is while being stored or transported, electric cars don’t make much sense.

  • LH

    This article is partly misleading, and partly complete fabrication.

    Even if one were to switch to an electric vehicle, the amount of energy used to charge it would be small compared to the amount of energy you use to air condition or heat your house. The US will continue to guzzle coal and fossil fuels until they either run out or people just learn to USE LESS (gee, what a concept).