Tuesday, 13 March 2012

How green is an electric car????

California passed a ruling last month requiring that 15 percent of new cars sold in the state meet a strict emissions standard of zero to near-zero emissions by 2015. Many environmental groups are praising the decision, which will require Californians to buy more electric, hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles.

What counts as an alternative-energy vehicle and what doesn't is hardly a straightforward reckoning.

depending on how you charge your car - is an electric car a true alternative if its drivetrain is ultimately powered by coal, nuclear power, and lithium strip mines rather than petrol?

Electric vehicles don't eliminate the negative side effects of car travel. They move the problems elsewhere.

because of this we are prime targets for PR firms, news pundits, environmentalists, and others to warp the argument quite considerably

For instance, electric vehicle manufacturers claim customers can fill up for 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, which they say works out to pennies on the mile. But if buyers intend to drive their electric car beyond the length of the extension cord from their garage, they won't be able to take advantage of that cheap electricity.

They'll have to rely on a battery they can only recharge a finite number of times before it must be replaced at considerable expense.

The battery-construction step, not the "fuel" step, is the expensive part of driving an electric vehicle. Advanced batteries cost so much to fabricate that the 10-cent-per-kilowatt-hour "fuel" cost to charge them becomes negligible.

Even though electric vehicles are moving to cheaper batteries, the costs of exhuming their required minerals extends far beyond simple dollars and cents. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to craft a battery. An analysis by the National Academies concludes that the environmental damage will be greater than that of traditional petrol-driven cars until at least 2030.

Even if mining companies clean up their operations and engineers increase battery storage capacity (which they will, very slowly) there is still a bigger problem looming on the horizon: Alternative-fuel vehicles stand to define and spread patterns of "sustainable living" that cannot be easily sustained without cars.

Shifting from gasoline to electric vehicles starts to appear synonymous with switching a smoking habit from cigarettes to a pipe...

Hybrid and electric vehicles may offer partial solutions within certain contexts, but only for thos who charge by PV

maybe we just need to forget the car and push durable options such as walkable neighborhoods, bicycling infrastructure and comfortable / reliable public transit.

will we sacrifice our cars? never, well not this generation, so we will have to be priced out of them...

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