Electric Vehicles: A Case for Electricity

Politics and the power of entrenched economic interests aside, the best way to reduce carbon emissions is to utilize the ever cleaner, greener, more renewable grid (from wind power and solar energy) to power transportation.

Only grid-rechargeable electric cars can attain the end goal of zero-emissions and ensure fuel price stability. Plug-in cars make individual and business investment in solar PV more economically compelling and intellectually comprehensible.

1. The near-term goal of true zero-emission driving can only be achieved with electricity into batteries. (Fuel cells, even with hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investment, remain decades from marketability for cars. Hydrogen will require hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure development, will be generated with fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, is less efficient than electricity, and presents storage and pressurization challenges.)

2. True well-to-wheels zero emission driving can only be achieved near-term with renewably generated electricity, i.e. solar photovoltaic or thermal, wind energy, hydro. (Biofuels can never achieve zero-emissions and require massive amounts of electricity and fossil fuels to be created. In addition, evidence suggests biological matter is more efficiently used for electricity generation than liquid fuel creation.)

3. Of all the alternative transportation fuels, only electricity is infrastructure-ready.

4. Cost per mile will always be cheaper with electricity.

5. Electricity generation and distribution is publicly regulated. Public and citizen involvement in pricing and rule-making is not possible with petroleum or bio-fuels.

6. We can ensure that electricity generation will be ever more renewable, cleaner, diversified, distributed, redundant, and secure.

7. Improvements in energy density and price reductions for advanced batteries are evidence of that which is achievable with large format car batteries. Even without massive investment from government, advanced batteries for cars have developed far more rapidly than fuel cell/hydrogen technology.

8. Plug-in hybrids and electric cars offer a difference in kind rather than degree. As long as the market only offers gasoline vehicles of varying efficiencies rated in mpg, the choice for consumers is always relative.