Steve March 28, 2020
Are There Exceptions to the Rule that Going Electric Reduces Emissions?


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Transportation


Are There Exceptions to the Rule that Going Electric Reduces Emissions? (arstechnica.com)






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EditorDavid

from the not-easy-being-green dept.

“Averaged over the globe, electric vehicles (EVs) already represent about a 31-percent emissions savings” writes Ars Technica, noting results from a study which also found similar savings from energy-efficient home-heating pumps. “Even in the scenario where these technologies are promoted but the grid isn’t cleaned up much, there’s a substantial benefit through 2050.”

But the researchers also separated the world into 59 regions, then used data on the “greenness” of each country’s electricity grids, considering the full range of available vehicle types and home-heating methods as well as their predicted “uptake” of green technologies from 2015 to 2050. And this did identify a handful exceptions, Ars Technica reports:

Compare, for example, Switzerland’s exceptionally low-carbon grid to Estonia’s, which runs primarily on oil shale. Swapping an internal combustion vehicle for an electric one in Switzerland cuts emissions by 70 percent, and a heat pump will cut them by about 88 percent. But in Estonia, an electric vehicle would increase emissions by 40 percent and a heat pump pushes that to an eye-watering 120 percent. A more significant exception can be found in Japan. In the scenarios with little progress on grid emissions, a decade from now, the combination of Japan’s dirtier grid and preference for hybrid vehicles means that swapping in EVs doesn’t quite pay…

As time goes on, emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles accounts for a larger share of their total life cycle emissions, the researchers note. You can make the vehicle efficient and the grid clean, but you’ll also have to clean up industry to keep shrinking that carbon footprint.

The article notes that the researchers also predict continued improvements in the efficiency of electric vehicles — with an unintended side effect. “As time goes on, emissions from manufacturing electric vehicles accounts for a larger share of their total life cycle emissions, the researchers note.

“You can make the vehicle efficient and the grid clean, but you’ll also have to clean up industry to keep shrinking that carbon footprint.”

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough
hunchbacks.

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