Not too long ago I wrote about China’s deployment of over 1,000 EV garbage trucks to the streets of Beijing. On the surface it sounded like a good move, but I wondered aloud just how “green” those EVs would be in light of China’s coal habit—it’s no secret, after all, that China chain-smokes coal . Cough.
Well, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we have a verdict: the consulting firm Gruetter Consulting, which is helping guide green energy projects all over the world, has crunched the numbers and concluded that Chinese EVs emit more CO2 than their gasoline counterparts when you consider the source of an EV’s juice.
D’Oh! Nice try, commies. China relies on coal to meet the overwhelming majority of their electrical needs, but like cigarettes (and prostitutes) coal is diiiiirty. Everyone knows that coal emissions pump vast concentrations of CO2 into the atmosphere; not everyone knows that coal emissions kill hundreds of thousands each year—especially in China—at a rate of 4,000 deaths for every death caused by nuclear power. Additionally, coal may actually be more radioactive than nuclear. (For further, less biased discussion on the merits/drawbacks of coal vs. nuclear, go here).
Humanity peruses coal (and cigarettes, and prostitutes) because it’s around and available. Coal is much cheaper to get up and running than nuclear, making it the go-to energy source for developing nations. Unfortunately, if you’re hooked the way China is, running a device as seemingly benign as an electric scooter would produce 20 g/km more CO2 than a gasoline scooter. Cough.
The good news from Gruetter? Not all developing nations are as dirty as China. An electric scooter initiative underway in India aims to replace up to 1.5 million gasoline-powered scooters with electric ones over a ten year period, a move which is projected to keep 1.5 million tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Despite the conclusion on China, the findings are great news for EV proponents. If a developing country like India can come out ahead in carbon emissions by going electric, imagine how much better developed countries like France or Denmark— which get so much of their power from nuclear and wind, respectively—can do.