If you've no account register here first time
User Name :
User Email :
Password :

Login Now

The Hidden Cost of Electric Vehicles

HondaInsightAlthough electric vehicles show higher non-climate damages than many other technologies, they will not be significantly cleaner than cars powered by fossil fuels until they rely less on electricity produced from coal-fired power plants, according to new research from the National Research Council, reports Reuters. Despite the finding, Japanese automaker Honda is considering a move into the electric vehicle market in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Jared Cohon, the chair of the National Research Council report told Reuters that the power fuel mix has to move away from coal, or clean coal technologies must be developed for electric vehicles to become a major green alternative.

According to the study, Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use, about half of U.S. power is generated by coal-fired power plants, which emits more of traditional pollutants, such as particulates and smog components, than natural gas, and about twice as much of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, reports Reuters.

Cohon also told Reuters that nuclear and renewable power would have to generate a larger portion of U.S. power for electric cars to become much greener compared to gasoline-powered cars, and advances in coal burning, like carbon capture and storage (CCS) could also help electric cars become a cleaner alternative to vehicles powered by fossil fuels.

The report estimates that damage to human health cost $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, primarily from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation, according to the report.

Electric cars can also have hidden costs, according to the study. Materials in electric car batteries are hard to produce, which adds to the energy it takes to make them, and the health and environmental costs of making electric cars can be 20 percent greater than conventional cars, reports Reuters.

In addition, emissions from operating and building electric cars in 2005 cost about 0.20 cents to 15 cents per vehicle mile traveled, in comparison to gasoline-powered cars, which cost about 0.34 cents to 5.04 cents per vehicle mile traveled, according to the report, said Reuters.

The report estimated that electric cars could still cost more to operate and manufacture in 2030 unless U.S. power production becomes cleaner, reports Reuters.

Possibly changing its strategy for fuel-efficient vehicles, chief executive Takanobu Ito of Honda Motor Co. said he would consider launching electric cars in the United States, Europe and Japan, reports Reuters.

Honda has been a strong supporter of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, writing off plug-in electric cars as a short-range option that uses too many expensive batteries, according to Reuters.

Honda now believes slow progress in setting up hydrogen fuelling stations could limit the sale of its fuel-cell vehicles, and that it may need electric vehicles to meet tough regulations in California, according to Reuters.

The EHS Guidebook: Selecting, Implementing, and Using EHS Software Solutions
Sponsored By: EtQ

  
Four Key Questions to Ask Before Your Next Energy Purchase
Sponsored By: EnerNOC, Inc.

  
Approaches to Managing EHS&S Data
Sponsored By: Enablon

  
10 Tactics of Successful Energy Managers
Sponsored By: EnergyCap, Inc.

  

5 thoughts on “The Hidden Cost of Electric Vehicles

  1. Why was any digital ink spilled/wasted for this article? And why is the National Research Council doing a study on something SO obvious? What a waste of time and money! Everybody knows that if electric cars are charged by electricity made from coal or other polluting methods they will still be polluting! The point is to get the gas cars off the road and then we have a more narrow issue to resolve. If we wait for clean power then we still would have an issue with the gas cars. Do these people want everyone to sit on their hands while they put every technology in a line and only develop one at a time? Why don’t they spend their money figuring out which one pollutes more overall, running a car on gas for 100 miles or burning enough coal to create the electricity to run the electric car for 100 miles?

  2. Why assume that the power to recharge the cars will be generated at a power plant? Why not invest in a combo-pack? You buy an electric car and you get massive tax breaks from the government to put a solar charging station in your garage at home and on the roof of your parking shed at work. Drive into the space, plug in and let the Sun do the job. What is wrong with this idea?

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with Jeff. It is rediculous to assume that car techonology development must wait until the utility companies stop fighting clean energy and start using it. Develop the techonology now, and by the time it is mainstream the electric utilities will have been forced to clean up their act.

  4. Along with what Jeff said, why not make sufficient solar panels be another option to chosse when buying the car – fancy wheels, satellite radio, automatic transmission, solar charging station…seems like a no-brainer to me. They could even be covered under the car’s warranty. One stop shopping will make this easier, and easier encourages greater participation.

  5. Re: spilled ink – Yes, it would be interesting to see the comparison of coal-burning impact to car-driving impact on emissions. I don’t see this as totally wasted ink though… It’s important to be reminded that electric cars don’t solve the problem. That is different than implying we should sit idly by…we should keep pressing on with R&D.
    RE: solar panels — I haven’t studied this, but the amp-hour output of a typical solar panel isn’t very high, but the energy demand of a vehicle is huge…meaning you’d have to leave it on charge for a LOOOOONG time…and since you’d mostly be charging your car at night. You get the point.

Leave a Comment