The inquiry is over well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the small answer is electric vehicle (EV) are cleaner; it’s only a matter of how much over an internal combustion engine (ICE).
Right enough an all-electric car like a Nissan Leaf does have “upstream” GHG emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, but gas-powered vehicles are reliable for emissions at the tailpipe that an EV does not have and upstream as well.
This may not always
Electric Cars Are Always Greener Than Gas
Sometimes it is a close call whether an EV makes sense, and even the Union of Concerned Scientists says as much.
But even under a worse-case scenario, typical EVs beat the upstream-plus-downstream emissions from an average gas car sold in the U.S. by 40 percent according to the EPA.
Take, for example, Denver, Colorado. It’s in the
That’s not so fantastic, but it still beats the 480 g/mile of an average new square car’s upstream-plus-tailpipe emissions and the Leaf even edges out a 33-mpg Honda Town the EPA says nets 330 g/mile.
Dirty Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels in the U.S. come from numerous sources, including imported, domestic hydraulic fracturing and square wells, offshore wells, and Canadian oil sands.
According to the UCS David Reichmuth, senior engineer, Clean Vehicles Program, outside of California it’s unclear state by state where gasoline or diesel at the pump may
Canadian oil sands site.
Another federal source, Argonne National Laboratory, is working on this and related questions, but meanwhile a study it reported last month raises concern over the petroleum mix in the U.S.
Specifically, fuel extracted and refined from Canadian oil sands release approximately 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over its lifetime than fuel from square domestic crude sources, says Argonne.
“This is vital information in this area the greenhouse gas impression of this oil source, and this is the first time it has been
So while the U.S. electricity grid is on course to get cleaner, and has been getting cleaner, this federal lab says Americans will be feeding more dirty energy into their petroleum mix if they can continue to live like they have become accustomed to.
Source: EIA via Center for Effective Government.
Another source which U.S. oil interests proclaim as a victory for “energy independence is hydraulic fracturing. Most-recent data released 2013
The highest emissions came from the San Juan Basin in New Mexico and the Permian Basin in Texas. Here advances horizontal drilling and fracking have led to a boom in shale gas and shale oil production.
Unraveling this GHG inquiry additional, it should be noted the worst offender by far is not the oil and gas diligence, it is the electricity production sector.
That’s aptly, electric cars that plug in do so to a grid that collectively emits 10-times the GHG that the second-highest
Why? Because electric cars are vastly more efficient and use less energy to travel farther than internal combustion counterparts.
According to the EPA, EVs convert around 59–62 percent of their electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels versus gasoline vehicles’ sending to the wheels only in this area 17–21 percent of the energy stored in gasoline.
The EPA lets you drill down on emissions by zip code with this calculator, and ICE emissions are seen on fuel economy.gov’s car finder.
This is why the “miles per gallon equivalent” of a Leaf is 114 MPGe combined, or four-times more efficient than
An EV is so efficient, it needs only the energy required to heat a toaster oven 20 minutes to drive a 3,000 pound car one mile down the road.
Only Getting Better
The U.S. EPA is holding both the electrical sector and oil and gas diligence to account in its agenda to curtail GHG
While some questions are still open in this area the future GHG profile from the oil and gas diligence now squeezing the Earth for oil by advanced methods, internal combustion cars are getting more efficient, but so are EVs.
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists.
In a September 2014 update to a 2012 nationwide analysis of data from the U.S. EPA
Three years ago, the UCS’ State of Charge data showed 45 percent of Americans lived in the “best regions” for EVs, and by 2014 that number had risen
“Sixty percent of Americans now live in regions where an EV produces fewer global warming emissions than even the most efficient gasoline-hybrid vehicle,” wrote Don Anair Research and Deputy Director, UCS Clean Vehicles Program.
SEE ALSO: America’s Lowest Carbon Footprint Cars
That speaks to the grid, but Anair also noted EVs have gotten more efficient too since the UCS initial analysis.
“That analysis was based on the efficiency of
Unaccounted for Variables
This report has used averaged numbers from the EPA but in reality life is not averaged, but specific. Both the fossil fuels consumed crosswise the country and the electricity powering the nation’s grids come from a multitude of sources.
Just as petroleum GHG emissions vary crosswise the country, electricity’s GHG also varies even within the same grid region
The 124 MPGe BMW i3 is the most efficient EV sold in the U.S.
A product such as the eMotorWerks Juicebox can monitor power plants or types of power plants in real time, writes the UCS’ Rachael Nealer, engineer and Kendall Knowledge Fellow, allowing EVs to charge when more renewables are producing electricity.
This she calls this a “game changer” but perhaps it is only a game refiner.
First generation EVs do hands-down beat square vehicles, and when next-generation EVs such as the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, and next Nissan Leaf come along, for many more now holding onto the ICE, it could be
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