They May Not Use Gasoline, but They Sure Burn Through Water –
NY Times article 3/18/2008
It is important for us to understand all the implications EV's have on the environment. So, this study is important. But it is more about coal than it is about the EV. Not every EV is getting energy from a coal burning power plant. Further, power plants in water scarce dry regions are not getting their coal from the water scarce region. The coal may be burned in the desert, but neither the coal or the water used to mine it, come from the desert.
EV's are the ultimate flex-fuel vehicles, capable of using electricity generated from any source, except lightning, no matter what the fuel used to generate it. It seems to be very popular to start talking about coal pollution as soon as the question of EV's is raised.
The fact is that Coal burning power plants, burn coal at night to idle whether ev's are plugged in or not. Studies have been done that show that a significant number of EV’s can be added to the grid with out any increase in the number of power plants.
Too often, discussions of EV's focus on the worst case. The argument is presented that, if all automobiles are replaced with EV's and charged from Coal burning power plants ... terrible things will happen.
We don't need to replace every ICE vehicle with an EV to achieve foreign oil independence. Not every EV will be charged with energy from coal burning power plants. EV's can get their energy form renewable sources such as solar and wind. We also have hydroelectric and nuclear plants on the grid as well as other carbon fueled plants.
What the EV does and does well, is separate the source of pollution, the power plant, from the point of use. ICE cars driven in the city pollute where they are driven, EV's produce zero emissions at the point of use. The pollution can be controlled at a limited number of points, the power plants. All EV's using the grid benefit from such improvements in pollution control or fuel used, no matter how old they are. No changes need to be made to the vehicles.
EV's can start out getting power from the grid and later switch to renewable energy power sources. The same EV can be charged during the day from renewable energy at work and at home at night from the grid.
We need to keep the problems of coal production and pollution in perspective. EV does not equal coal. EV equals flexibility. EV equals zero emissions at the point of use. EV equals foreign oil independence.