The dirty side of electricity

Thinking of going electric with your vehicle to save the environment? Think again.

mitsubishi-imiev-electric-car-ee01.jpgA story on the site EurActive.com cites a report from last year conducted by the Danish Petroleum Industry Association. The first thought will be, of course, that it was done by a player in the petroleum industry, so it was not going to be in favor of electric vehicles anyway.

Possibly true. Although, the report suggests that driving electric or hybrid vehicles are no greener than driving a diesel vehicle. The reason, it says, is that Europe’s electric grid is still petroleum based. While drivers would be using less diesel fuel or gas from the pumps, the electric grid would need additional fuel to create the power needed to propel the growing number of electric vehicles.

electricity_1235_18906262_1_0_7016986_300320×320.jpgThe study claims that the “wheel-to-wheel” energy production cycle of vehicles is similar regardless of the type of power used for the vehicle. CO2 emissions from hybrids and electric cars are similar, it said, with diesel-powered vehicles emitting 8% more carbon. Gas-powered vehicles produce about 35% more emissions when compared to diesel.

Interestingly, because electric cars cover a shorter distance per charge and are usually heavier than diesel vehicles, the study claims they result in more CO2 emissions than a diesel vehicle covering the same distance.

I guess when people say “clean diesel” today, they really mean it. The difference, according to the study, is that diesel or gas vehicles produce emissions from the tailpipe while electric vehicles generate emissions at the power plant level.

Eventually, the report said, electric usage would be cleaner, but only as we find renewable ways to produce electricity. The European Union is looking to raise its standards for renewable energies, eventually resulting in 15% of electricity produced coming from renewable sources by 2025, according to the report.

So, at least now in Europe, if you think you’re going “green” by purchasing an electric vehicle, all you might be doing is sacrificing power, and a little extra dough.

You can access the full report here.

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