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Even With Coal Power, Hybrids Take the Cake

2 September 2010

I recently wrote about an infographic from Scientific America concerning coal power and plug-in hybrid vehicles – that is, that driving a plug-in electric vehicle isn’t as “green” as think it is if you’re using electricity produced at a coal plant to charge it.  Well, now a group of scientists in Europe have just published a study refuting that very claim.  They did a very detailed life-cycle analysis of every step of a electric car’s life, from the production of the batteries and the individual parts, the operation of the car and then finally scrapping it.  And what did they find?

A gasoline car would have to get 70 miles to the gallon to compete in environmental friendliness with the (Li-ion) electric car run on average EU electricity.

Here’s the grain of salt: the European Union uses less coal-fired power on average than most of the United States.  But even if you charged your electric vehicle on 100% coal power, this study claims that it would make it only 15% more environmentally unfriendly than one run on 46% clean power.  We’ll have to wait and see if the numbers add up in the United States, but it looks like electric cars are going to be be a big part of energy discussions moving forward.

::Clean Technica

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