Betting on the wrong horse(power)?
A recent news article suggests that these dream-machines that we consider energy-efficient are problem-ridden. Here’s why, burning fossil fuels to generate electricity needed to power these vehicles produces double the C02 emissions compared to internal combustion engine vehicles.
Basing its claim on a UK-based study, the article points out that burning fuel inside the vehicle is more environment friendly than transmitting energy through the grid, which powers the EVs. Since EV-charging will occur at night, it might pressurize the grid at night too, leading to greater fossil-fuel exploitation.
The only way to ensure that these EVs do not spew C02, is to power them with electricity produced by renewable sources like the wind and the Sun. But harnessing the energy of these sources also has its limitations.
So, are plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) any better?
Well, both Plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles might help cut our oil dependence to some extent, but they do not decrease carbon pollution. A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggests that a PHEV powered by current coal technologies has 28-34% lower emissions as compared to a conventional vehicle and 1-11% higher emissions than the hybrid electric vehicle. So clearly, according to these statistics PHEVs don’t fit the bill either. Do we then depend on hybrid electric vehicles?
The writing on the wall is very clear, none of these
vehicles–PHEVs or EVs–are really “green” or eco-friendly. Till the time these vehicles are not powered using non-renewable sources, shifting from oil to coal to run these vehicles should not be considered such a great achievement.
So, when we hear plans of electrification of vehicle fleet or learn about the latest snazzy PHEV, we might want to take a moment to think how will it be powered, what will be the source of its energy?