Increased electric car usage will not reduce greenhouse emissions

Emissions from power plants and other sources will nullify any progress made by the increased use of electric cars, as passenger vehicles only account for 20 percent of emissions.
By Ananth Baliga  |  Jan. 21, 2014 at 1:55 PM
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Despite attempts to increase the use of electric cars, new research suggests that even if there was a sharp increase in such vehicles by 2050, these efforts would not significantly bring down emissions.

Researchers from North Carolina State University ran 108 simulations through an energy systems model, and found that even if 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S. were electric cars, which includes hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, there would be little or no reduction in the emission of air pollutants.

"There are a number of reasons for this," said Joseph DeCarolis, senior author of the paper. "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."

According to the DeCarolis, passenger vehicles account for only 20 percent of CO2 emissions and the better option would be set emission reduction goals, rather than rely on improved passenger vehicle technology to solve the problem.

The research, now published online in Environmental Science & Technology, also found that oil prices and battery costs were major factors used by consumers to determine if they want to use an electric car.

[North Carolina State University] [Environmental Science and Technology]

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