Electric Vehicles Not as Green as Believed

By Paul Riegler on 30 December 2014
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DSC_0488Electric vehicles may not be quite as green as people believe, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota.

The study found that “electric vehicles (EVs) powered by electricity from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power are best for improving air quality, whereas vehicles powered by corn ethanol and EVs powered by coal are the worst.”

The reason for this is the fact that coal-generated electricity is a major source of power in the United States. Approximately 44% of electricity generated is attributed to coal as of 2013. If the EV’s fuel comes from electricity from coal, an electric car will produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution that is created in generating the electricity, according to the study, which was published last month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s kind of hard to beat gasoline,” said Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study. “A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean … are not better than gasoline.”

The authors emphasized that the study is focused on pollutants and how they impact human health. They looked at “how much people would be exposed to pollutants, calculated damage to health, and the economic costs associated with this damage,” said study co-author Jason Hill, an environmental engineer at the University of Minnesota.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)