Timon Singh

Study Claims Driving Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Won't Slow Climate Change

by , 03/05/14
filed under: Green Transportation, News

EDVs, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, north carolina state unversity, carbon emissions, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, us emission, prius, electric hybrid vehicles

Researchers from North Carolina State University report that despite the recent increase in electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) sales, will not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides – even if the trend continues to 2050. But their study assumes that EVs and hybrids will always be powered by fossil fuels, even though renewables are being rapidly implemented not only in the United States, but across the globe.

EDVs, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, north carolina state unversity, carbon emissions, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, us emission, prius, electric hybrid vehicles

“We wanted to see how important EDVs may be over the next 40 years in terms of their ability to reduce emissions,” says Dr. Joseph DeCarolis, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the new model. “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.”

According to the paper, the research team ran 108 different scenarios to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. Their results showed that even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants.

Related: EQUAL – a Compact EV Designed for People With Disabilities

“There are a number of reasons for this,” DeCarolis says. “In part, it’s because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place. For example, passenger vehicles make up only 20% of carbon dioxide emissions.”

“From a policy standpoint, this study tells us that it makes more sense to set emissions reductions goals, rather than promoting specific vehicle technologies with the idea that they’ll solve the problem on their own.”

While we agree that we ought to take a multi-pronged approach to emissions reductions, once electric and hybrid vehicles are charged with solar power and other renewables, they will have a much more powerful impact on carbon emissions.

+ North Carolina State University/How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter To U.S. Emissions?

Via Fast CoExist

Images via Toyota Motor Europe and FaceMePLS

Related: Tesla’s Lithium-ion Battery Gigafactory to Reduce Battery Costs by More Than 30%

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2 Comments

  1. archonic March 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    “From a policy standpoint, this study tells us that it makes more sense to set emissions reductions goals, rather than promoting specific vehicle technologies with the idea that they’ll solve the problem on their own.”

    Right. Cause just setting goals is all you need. Just set some goals and then pat yourself on the back. No need to take EV technologies to other emission categories like trucking and no need to invest heavily in emissionless power generation. Just set some goal and wipe your hands of it.

  2. Sean Reynolds March 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

    The problem with this paper is that it fails to take into account design limitations with nuclear energy power plants.

    Energy demand looks like a sine wave, where during the day time we use more energy and at night time we use less energy. Our national grid’s power generation does not store energy because it is cheaper to produce energy just above demand than the conversion to and from storage.

    Nuclear energy cant be turned on and off with the flip of a switch, we have to use natural gas, coal and oil power plants to meet peak demand.

    However if we all drove electric cars, they would be charging during the night in the off peak times. This means that the sine wave described above would be flatter and overall would be higher. More importantly this means that we could use more nuclear and less oil, natural gas and coal.

    This not only reduces emissions from tailpipes but more importantly this reduces or dependance on the peaker plants themselves. The more Nuclear we can use the less coal we will be burning into our atmosphere.

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