Study finds EVs will be key in reducing GHGs

A study from the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that increased adoption of EV’s could lead to huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

EV naysayers like to point out that producing electricity is still a carbon intensive process, so the lack of tailpipe emissions on electric cars isn’t much to hang your hat on. But with policies like the EPA’s recently finalized Clean Power Plan and other clean energy policies pushing grid emissions lower and lower, combined with the inherent efficiency advantages of electric drive, the study finds that electric vehicles can be an increasingly important piece of the overall GHG reduction puzzle.

The report updates an earlier study from 2007, which was one of the first to analyze the long term effects of electric vehicles. It looks at GHG emissions in a similar way to most graphs you’ve probably seen about climate change. There’s three scenarios: one in which humans do a good job of reducing emissions, one in which we do an okay job, and one where we just keep going, “business as usual.” The study assumes wide adoption of EVs over the next 35 years, such that over half of personal vehicles are electric by 2050.

Under these scenarios, we can reduce GHGs up to 70% if we do a really good job of cleaning up the grid. As Built by Michigan has pointed out in its own analyses, electric vehicles are already much cleaner than gas-powered counterparts, even including emissions from electricity generation. This study estimates that in the future, PEVs could emit up to 71 percent lower lifetime carbon pollution.

Under the Clean Power Plan, Michigan’s power plants will have to reduce emissions by up to 39% percent by 2030. For more information on cleaning up our grid, visit the Ecology Center’s website.