Electric Cars Help Reduce Urban Heat Island Effect (w/Video)

Large cities tend to heat up more during the day than they can cool off at night. This leads to increased temperatures, particularly during summer months. Those high temperatures mean more energy is consumed to run air conditioning equipment, which costs building owners and residents money. They also have a negative impact on the health of humans living in cities.

According to a report published in Nature earlier this year and referenced in an article by CleanTechnica, mass adoption of electric vehicles in Beijing, China would lower the city’s average temperature by 1 degree Celsius. Because electric vehicles are more efficient than cars with internal combustion engines, they generate only about 20% as much heat while in operation as fossil fueled cars do.

Does that 1 degree difference seem like small potatoes to you? It’s not. According to the report, that decrease in temperature alone would save Beijing 14.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity and slash carbon dioxide emissions by 11,779 tons per day.

“It’s easy not to see the big picture on issues like electric cars and global warming, but when we look with a holistic approach, we find these unexpected connections,” said the study ‘s co-author Jianguo Liu, who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability at Michigan State University, and tis he director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. “Heat waves kill, and in terms of climate change, even one degree can make a difference.”

Heat is becoming more and more of an issue in densely populated urban environments. For poorer residents who cannot afford air conditioning, it puts extra stress on the body, which leads to higher rates of disease and death. Treating the health issues of all members of society places an enormous burden on health care systems. Lowering ambient temperatures not only leads to lower carbon emissions and decreased air conditioning expense, it also tends to drive down health care costs.

All of which goes to prove once again that electric cars really are cool!


Fossil fuel cars add to urban heat island effect

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.