Sunday, October 07, 2012
Are Electric Cars The Answer To Pollution ?
A new study, done by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, says that may not be true. They cite two reasons for this. First, the construction of an electric car produces more factory pollution than the production of a gas-powered car. This is because of the chemicals that go into making the battery (which actually results in a more toxic brew of pollution). But even though this is true, electric cars would still reduce pollution if it was not for the second factor -- where the cars get their electricity.
While these cars don't need gasoline, they still must get their power from somewhere. And right now, that would be existing power plants, which would have to produce more power to take care of this added need for electricity -- and most of that power is produced from the burning of fossil fuels. When you combine the extra pollution from building the electric cars and the extra pollution from getting the electricity from dirty power plants, the result (according to the study) is that electric cars don't have any advantage over gas-powered automobiles (especially the high-mileage sub-compacts) as far as the environment is concerned.
But that does not mean the electric car is not a good idea -- only that it cannot solve the problem of pollution without also addressing the source of their electric power also. The problem is not quite as acute in Europe, where they get a larger percentage of their electricity from non-fossil fuel sources (like solar, wind, and nuclear power). But it is a major problem in the United States, where over 85% of the electricity produced is from fossil fuels -- especially the burning of coal.
There has been a lot of talk lately, even from our president, about the promise of "claen" coal. Don't be mislead. There is no such thing as clean coal. That is just propaganda fed to the public by the coal companies. Even after washing and treating coal, it is still the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels -- and pollution capturing techniques are still just a dream (and may never be a reality).
I still think electric cars are a good idea, but until we cut the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity and replace that with clean (and hopefully renewable) sources of electricity production, it will just be a good idea that failed. The use of electric cars cannot replace the need to clean up our power plants. In fact, it increases the need to do that.