Tailpipe Emissions from Electric Vehicles
Electric cars have always come in and out of popularity since their creation. In 1900 they were popular as they were 28% of all cars created at that time says the American Census from 1905. As we have become more concerned over our environmental impact on our earth we have tried to find what we can do to save our planet. The newest and most promising way to help save the environment is by bringing back these electric cars. With current technology these cars have advanced to now become better in many ways than traditional gas or diesel powered vehicles. The downsides is that these electric cars still find ways to run on gas, diesel, and even coal just as electric cars did over one hundred years ago. While many believe that these electric cars are going to save the earth we tend not to focus on the dirty side of clean energy.
We have come to the conclusion that electric cars are going to save us even though this isn’t exactly correct yet. We have focused on eliminating gasoline cars instead of cleaning our energy. Coultura is an organization that’s target is to have a gasoline free America and has documents all of the states and countries playing to go electric with their vehicles. According to Coultura, nine of the fifty states in the US and even some countries around the globe are making plans to phase out gas powered cars. Some have even passed legislation to ban the selling of new gasoline powered cars by certain dates. New Jersey is an example of this as legislation has been made to ban the selling of new gas powered cars by 2040. Most countries are just making plans on the matter, while Ireland has started to propose legislation to do this by 2030. Norway is ahead of this as they plan on banning new electric cars by 2025 as already 60% of their vehicles are already electric. Iceland’s plan is to do this by 2030, but also plans to eliminate half of its gas stations by 2025. This should be good steps to help the environment but while patting ourselves on the back we have completely shifted our focus in the wrong direction. The only downside of patting ourselves on the back for these large leaps is that we don’t see the way in which electricity is produced.
In the United States we tend to believe that our electricity comes from clean sources, but most of it does not. Electric cars are powered by coal and natural gases which are fossil fuels. This produced the exact opposite result that we are trying to achieve, the only difference is that it does not produce direct tailpipe emissions. The percentages of electricity usage in the United States can be found in documents by the US Energy Administration. According to the US Energy Administration, In the United States the total electricity produced is only made up of 17% renewable resources such as hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar. The rest is 20% nuclear, 23% coal, and 38% natural gases. Less than 1% of the energy was produced with petroleum. Cars then run on almost a quarter coal does not seem like the future, but they would be if this were to change.
Coal has been a source of energy since the late 1880s and still to this day has been an extremely large source of the world’s energy. Coal has extreme downsides that can not be overlooked especially because it is being used so much to produce energy. According to the US Energy Administration coal causes many sources of pollution such as emitting sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and even mercury and heavy metals. What some of these chemicals do is sulfur dioxide causes acid rain and nitrogen oxides cause smog and lung illnesses. This means that coal isn’t just bad for the environment but also bad for our health. This is why coal is the most dangerous of all of the ways to produce electricity and also the most concerning because many countries still continue to use it despite the environmental and health effects.
Our Usage of coal has thankfully decreased since about 2008 when our usage of coal was at its highest but our usage of natural gas has just taken its place as its use in the production of energy has increased. The amount of electricity produced with coal in 2008 went from 1,986 billion kilowatt hours to 996 billion kilowatt hours in 2019. The usage of renewable energy has been growing since the early 1950s, and the different kinds and effectiveness of renewable energy has also grown. Solar and wind power have skyrocketed in popularity since the early 2000s. This has been good results from the United States but still not enough to call electric cars clean energy, rather it is dirty energy.
China is one of the worst examples of how these cars will run on dirty energy. While China has not made any plans yet Hong Kong specifically has plans to get rid of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles by 2030 or 2040 says Coltura. According to the US Energy Administration, while an electric car in the United States would run on 23% coal, a car in China would run on 58% coal. China electricity also runs on 20% petroleum and other liquids, 8% natural gas, 8% hydroelectricity, 2% nuclear, and 5% other renewable resources. This means that electric cars actually run on 78% coal and fuel in China. This means that electric cars are actually more inefficient in China than almost anywhere else in the world apart from India whose coal usage is 74% of there electricity production. China is the largest energy consumer and producer in the world and has the fastest growing population. This means that China is creating a large amount of pollution through their energy which many believe to be clean.
Reaching our goals by 2035 are far out of reach, but this does not mean that we will not see electric vehicles running on clean energy within the next 30 years. The amount of coal used can be cut down and almost eliminated as we see from exemplary countries such as Norway, but this may take until 2050 for the United States. Norway’s energy sources were 97% renewable resources in 2011, and in 2019, 93.4% of all of its energy comes from just hydroelectric alone. In Norway 60% of all cars are electric and they run on some of the cleanest energy that can be found. Norway is the best example of a completely clean system of energy production to use that can and should be followed across the world.
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