A study by researchers at the University of Minnesota concludes that using electricity from a coal fired generating plant to recharge your EV may actually be worse for the environment and people’s health than driving a conventional gasoline powered car. 80% worse, in fact.
The Associated Press picked up the story, which then quickly spread to every major print and digital media outlet in the world. Suddenly, people everywhere are saying electric cars are pollution monsters.
Help! The sky is falling. We must run and tell the King!
Actually, what the study says is that using coal to make electricity is a really bad idea. It finds that electricity made from natural gas or renewable sources like wind or solar to recharge your EV lowers environmental and health impacts by 50% compared to a gasoline vehicle. So the focus of the study is not on EVs, but rather on where the electricity to recharge those EV’s comes from. While coal is still the dominant source of energy in the U.S., wind and solar power are making huge in roads, even in conservative states.
“The difference between the least- and most-polluting electricity generation options for EVs increases almost sixfold when air pollution damages are considered alongside climate impacts, instead of when climate impacts are considered alone,” the report’s authors conclude. “Our findings thus reinforce the benefit of pairing EVs with clean electricity.” The chart below illustrates that conclusion, and even then, there’s reason to doubt that EVs really are dirtier than gas cars…even when coal powered.
The video makes the findings presented in the report perfectly clear. Too bad the editors at Associated Press didn’t watch it before they created their scary headlines.