September 17th, 2008 by rbanks
Finally, an answer to the question of whether it’s greener to have a plug-in, electric car or a petrol-powered one.
“Several studies have been done on the probable effects of extended-range EVs and other plug-in vehicles and they have all found that they decrease emission of greenhouse gasses significantly. The NRDC’s study found that widespread adoption of plug-in technology would reduce greenhouse gasses by about 450 million metric tons per year, a huge number. It would be the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road completely and it would reduce our oil consumption by almost four million barrels per day (about 20x more than we’d get from drilling offshore, by the way.)
Additionally, plug-in vehicles are the only cars that actually get greener as time goes on. As we phase out old, inefficient coal-fired power plants, and replace them with renewable technology like geothermal, wind and solar, plug-in vehicles see corresponding boosts in their carbon efficiency.
Plug-ins will produce more of some emissions however. Gas exhaust doesn’t have the same emissions as coal-smoke, so the emissions profile for the car will shift. Instead of unburned hydrocarbons and NOx being the problem, instead the vehicle will be responsible for more sulfur and mercury emissions. Which is worse is, frankly, a toss-up.”