Friday, February 20, 2015

How efficient is an electric car in your town?

Not the most flattering view, but that, my friends, is a plug-in hybrid Ford in my parking lot!
 
I have not been seeing very many battery-powered cars around town lately - and I do look for them. On my way to work this morning I caught a glimpse of a Nissan Leaf. Then, when I pulled in the parking lot I saw a Ford C-Max Energi. Mostly I see Leafs (Leaves?) and Volts. Occasionally I see one of the Ford Energi models. I don't know of any public chargers in town - unless you count the one at the Nissan dealer. And the one electric bike for sale on Craigslist has been there a few months now. Lubbock, in general, has not embraced electric transportation.
 
When I talk to people about electric cars and why many people do not care for them, I am often told that they are just as "dirty" as petrol-powered vehicles. Then I hear a lame spiel about coal-fired electric plants and dirty power through the plug-in. Yes, it is true that we have lots of coal-powered electric plants, (Yes, Lubbock gets most of its power from coal and is very unfriendly to anyone seeking solar power.) but it is still cleaner and more efficient to deliver the electric power directly to the car rather than using that electricity (plus petroleum) to produce, refine, and deliver petroleum for use in cars.

Recently, the EPA put out a really cool online tool to help you determine how clean or dirty an electric car would be in your town. Unfortunately, many media outlets threw out misleading headlines that made it sound as though electric cars are much dirtier than we originally thought. Aaarrrgggghhhhh!!! If you are not in the USA, I apologize - the tools in this post are less helpful for you.

Plug your zip code in here to learn about local conditions:
http://oaspub.epa.gov/powpro/ept_pack.charts

Learn a lot more about it here: (48 pages!)
http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf


Check out the complete infographic and a fun cartoon here:
http://thegreendivas.com/2014/12/22/hank-d-bee-green-travel-cartoon-infographic/

So, yes, electric cars are less than perfect, but they, even under less than ideal conditions, are still cleaner and more efficient than petroleum burners. And, as we as a society move toward cleaner electric production, electric cars will become cleaner by proxy.

May you drive the cleanest and greenest joyfully! (Or fall in love with a bicycle!)