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.