How Clean Are Electric Cars? Depends on the State
Posted on Jul 19, 2010
With high-profile deals, expanding infrastructure and a growing list of models, the electric car is finally arriving, but, as they say, your mileage may vary. Charge that Tesla Roadster in Georgia, where they burn coal to power the grid, and you may as well be driving a Prius.
Still, even the dirtiest power plant is generally more efficient than the internal combustion engine. —PZS
San Francisco Chronicle:
The amount of greenhouse gas emissions saved by electric cars varies widely from state to state. California’s grid is relatively carbon-free, drawing 14.4 percent of its electricity in 2008 from nuclear plants, 11 percent from large hydroelectric dams and 10.6 percent from renewable sources such as geothermal plants and wind farms, according to the California Energy Commission. More than 45 percent of the state’s electricity comes from burning natural gas, which produces less carbon dioxide than coal.
Many states in the Midwest or Southeast, however, rely heavily on coal. There, electric cars will still produce fewer emissions than gasoline vehicles, but the difference won’t be as great.
“A Tesla in Georgia would give you about the same greenhouse gas emissions as a good Prius,” Hwang said, referring to Toyota’s popular hybrid car. “You’re not going backward, but you’re only doing as well as a Prius.”