Misinformation. As a savvy consumer like you and I, we are more concerned about our carbon footprint now more than ever. Especially as how electric cars have evolved over the years from the first generation to the Tesla Mode S.
It is no surprise that many are considering buying an electric car because of its appeal and to minimise our carbon footprint. However, like most we are blasted with a lot of misinformation. While electric car manufacturers advertise widely that they their cars are CO2 emissions free, while a headline reads that “Your electric vehicle might not be as green as you think,”. “There are places where electric cars pollute more than gas-powered cars,” cautions another. Will your electric car suck up electricity generated by coal-fuelled power plants that negates any benefit to the environment? Is the process required to manufacture an electric car’s powerful battery just as bad as burning gasoline? Thus, if we are not informed properly we could be driving electric cars with the intent of reducing our carbon footprint but in the end, be making it worse. 1. What does the existing body of research say about this issue?(Consider: What are the various Points of View (POV) on the issue? How do you interpret the findings and make sense of the variety of findings as a whole? What is your conclusion and why?) Their views differ mainly in the timeliness of electric cars, on whether now is the time electric cars should become mainstream and whether countries are ready to power electric cars in a more sustainable way than gasoline cars. One side says that the time is not now and that driving electric cars is not significantly more environmentally friendly than gasoline cars and that there will be adverse economic impact on the world.
Charging electric cars The problem is that people charge their electric cars at night and not when the greenest power is generated which is during the day. It is when solar power can feed the grid, but it doesn’t work in the dark and windmills stop spinning if there’s no wind. In today’s grid, there is almost no capacity to store solar and wind-generated electricity to use for later. Grid storage is slowly expanding, but most electricity must be used as it is produced. That means that charging electric cars usually means that the energy is still coming from burning coal.
Economic disruption from government promoting and incentivising adoption After the Volkswagen’s 2015 emissions scandal Germany passed a resolution in October banning combustion engine cars by 2030. This regulation spurred the European Union and as well as Netherlands and Norway whom are also discussing bans. ‘Giving up gasoline will be hard. “If the whole world started going to electric vehicles, and the demand for gasoline substantially dropped, the price of oil would plummet,” says Severin Borenstein, professor of business administration and public policy at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
If oil demand drops by 10%-20%, Borenstein says, the price would “almost certainly collapse” to $20 per barrel or lower, or $1 per gallon gasoline before taxes. “That would make it much less economic to use electric vehicles – that would be where we really run into the real question: are we willing to stick to this?”‘ Taken from an excerpt of an article from The Guardian from a professor Severin Borenstein. How power is generated today Its reported from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that 1/3 of US power is generated by coal and only 12% is from renewables which is only growing at a slow rate. That said, this situation is greener than most regions of the world, especially China, where coal generated 72% of all power in 2015 according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and more than 30% of totally electricity worldwide comes from burning coal. Source of renewable energy is much in it’s infancy especially in our country Singapore where renewable energy only makes up less than 1%.
On the other hand, there are studies that say the opposite and that it is the time now to drive electric cars as they still produce less CO2 emissions in its lifecycle than a gasoline car and depends more on factors like on how the country’s produce their electricity that fuel these electric cars. The technology of the car is not important as the car’s range and efficiency will only get better over time and those factors aren’t important to the main of being green. The main emphasis is on where this energy comes from to power your electric cars. Now electric cars are driving cleaner than gasoline cars even after considering its lifecycle form factory line to the road. In a 2012 report from the (Union of Concerned Scientists) UCSUSA, driving an average EV results in lower global warming emissions than driving a gasoline car that gets 50 miles per gallon (MPG) in regions covering two-thirds of the U.
S. population. Based on where EVs are being sold in the United States today, the average EV driving on electricity produces global warming emissions equal to a gasoline vehicle with a 68 MPG fuel economy rating. The solution is in renewable sources of energyAs more electricity is generated by renewable sources of energy, electric cars will become even cleaner. Research done from the (Union of Concerned Scientists) UCSUSA showed that if you took a grid composed of 80 percent renewable electricity, manufacturing an electric car will result in an over 25 percent reduction in emissions from manufacturing and an 84 percent reduction in emissions from driving—for an overall reduction of more than 60 percent (compared with a BEV manufactured and driven today).
Fig 1. CO2 Emissions calculation from the electric and gasoline cars Electric cars (CO2 Emissions) Gasoline cars (CO2 Emissions) Manufacturing 7 to 10 metric tons + 9 metric tons from battery production 7 to 10 metric tons Producing the fuel (Standard NL electricity mix) 23 metric tons 6 metric tons Producing the fuel (100% Renewable) 2 metric tons with 100% recycle Driving the car 0 37 metric tons Total CO2 Emissions 35-42 metric tons 50-53 metric tons *Research from the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research, TNO. NL=Netherlands * In conclusion, I still firmly believe that electric cars are the future and that we all should be moving towards an all-electric driving ecosystem. Even though the difference in CO2 emissions produced between an electric car and a gasoline is not significant now and that the world is still not fully optimised for powering electric cars we should still push for wider usage and innovation for not only electric vehicles but also for renewable source of energy. 2.
What is your recommendation and why?(Consider: Putting all the research findings together, what is the recommendation that you would make to ordinary citizens so they may contribute towards resolving the specific issue being looked at? Explain why with justification and evidence from your research) My recommendation to ordinary citizens and especially to people my age where in 10 to 15 years, as we will be the ones with the buying power to decide what car to ride is to do a simple google search on how one’s country produces their energy. For example, in Iceland 100% of their energy comes from renewable sources making it the cleanest place to charge your electric car. While in Singapore 95% of our energy comes from natural gas and renewable energy makes less than 1% (Energy Market Authority, EMA) making it not the cleanest and sustainable place for electric cars. That said it is still good to drive an electric car as it does produce less CO2 emissions than a gasoline car over its lifecycle as shown in the research finding from Fig 1 from TNO. One must take into consideration how their country produces electricity if they decide to drive an electric car to minimise and be mindful of their carbon footprint as electric cars are only as clean as their power supply. And that electric car ownership should not end at just driving it but also be fully aware of what fuels their car and playing their part to reducing climate change.