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General Electric Company Message Board

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  • snthsnth1 snthsnth1 Feb 16, 2012 10:13 AM Flag

    Are electric cars green? Where do we get the power from?


    Actually running an electric car from a coal-fired power plant is cleaner than running a gasoline powered car.

    This is old news, but I thought you should know.

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    • IF anyone is interested in the facts and real data, here's some:

      But I don't know I bother -- nobody seems interested in exerting any effort to find the Truth... so much easier to just listen to Rush or Colbert.

      • 1 Reply to actronner
      • Do EVs And PHEVs Result In Less Pollution?

        It depends, as outlined by ELPC Executive Director in this Huffington Post article. In EVs and PHEVs, tailpipe pollution is reduced in proportion to the amount of time the vehicle is powered by the electric battery. However, the electricity used to charge vehicle batteries has its own pollution profile. Electricity generated by coal plants is much more polluting than electricity generated by no/low-carbon energy sources like wind power or nuclear power.

        Multiple studies have shown that EVs and PHEVs reduce total pollution compared with conventional gasoline or diesel-fueled vehicles, even when batteries are charged with electricity from coal plants. The electricity generation mix is more important when you compare EVs and PHEVs with HEVs. When coal plants supply more than 50% of the power mix, the equation is not favorable for PHEVs compared to HEVs when it comes to the CO2 pollution (global warming) and SO2 (acid rain-causing) pollution. For other pollutants, the data varies. See studies by the National Research Council of the National Academies and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for more information.

        There are two lessons here: 1) the overall pollution profile of EVs depends on what electricity generating source is on the margin while the battery is being charged; and 2) the electricity generating source on the margin varies by LOCATION and TIME. For example, in Indiana, about 95% of the electricity is supplied by coal plants. It’s not a good place to look for EVs as a pollution solution. However, in Northern Illinois, most of the power supplied at the margin at night is from low/no-CO2 wind power and nuclear power plants, so PHEVs could help reduce pollution in Northern Illinois.

        In sum, EVs and PHEVs are cleanest in places, and at times, that wind power, solar power, hydro power and nuclear power supply more than half of the power mix. Favorable policies, like discounted off-peak electric rates for vehicle charging, can encourage consumers to charge at night when the electric generation mix is better for the environment.

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