Today the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report regarding electric vehicle operating costs and regional power grid emissions intended to enable consumers to more accurately analyze cost-benefit and pollution.
The comprehensive report focused on such vehicles as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi i and others, and graded regions by how much greenhouse gas on average is emitted.
The main findings are in line with what EV advocates already know: greenhouse gas emissions are effectively reduced by switching to electric propulsion power. Further, the study estimated average fuel savings per year between $750-1,200.
“This report shows drivers should feel confident that owning an electric vehicle is a good choice for reducing global warming pollution, cutting fuel costs, and slashing oil consumption,” said Don Anair, the report’s author and senior engineer for UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Those in the market for a new car may have been uncertain how the global warming emissions and fuel costs of EVs stack up to gasoline-powered vehicles. Now, drivers can for the first time see just how much driving an electric vehicle in their hometown will lower global warming emissions and save them money on fuel costs.”
If you surf the Web for other write-ups on the study, you will also see some reports cuing in on the finding that the most efficient gasoline-powered vehicles may be environmentally cleaner than EVs recharging in regions relying on some coal-powered plants. That is, the study found effective emissions needed to recharge vehicles relying on some powerplants makes them little cleaner than some of the cleanest gas cars – but still cleaner than most.
But in any case, the study’s over-riding emphasis did not go in that negative direction, even if it does give potential material for such sound bite journalism, and fodder for critics of EVs.
One assumption the study made was that EV drivers for now are primarily recharging at home, often in the overnight hours. The executive summary noted that for 45 percent of the population, “EVs produce lower global warming emissions than even the most efficient gasoline hybrids.”
And for 37 percent of the population, EVs are on par with the most efficient hybrids such as the Civic Hybrid and Prius.
The Union of Concerned Scientists focused its study on greenhouse gas emissions which it says are responsible for climate change.
It said the expectancy is overall, EVs should become effectively cleaner to operate in years to come as more renewable power sources come online.
Also, it encouraged consumers to shop for the best available power plan for them, be it one focusing on green energy supplementation, or merely a less expensive alternative rate plan.
In California, for instance, consumers can elect a time of use plan that could save an estimated $500-1000 per year, the study says.
It is equally true that any electricity generated in the United States is energy that need not be imported, which is cannot be said of petroleum dependent vehicles.
Reasons why the Union of Concerned Scientists is thus very much in favor of EVs include reduction of greenhouse gases, net operational savings, as mentioned, but no doubt energy security is also in the reasoning process.
The perceived downside for consumers is most EVs come at a price premium, which we’ve seen all sorts of estimates on with regard to how many years it will take to make a payback.
The short answer is it is a qualified decision. The study’s authors recommend knowing exact cost of electricity, getting the most cost-effective plan possible and taking advantage of any available government subsidies.
If investing in your own renewable energy – such as solar or wind – is an option, this also is recommended to reduce carbon footprint, and save money.
To learn more, visit the organization’s Web site.