Is an EV really green?

Daniel's Handmade EV w211

Daniel's handmade EV

If you need coal-fired power to make your electricity, then what’s green about your EV? I've heard it takes more carbon to make an EV anyway.

There are lots of apparent truths and mis-truths, the skill is to identify what's true. Is an EV really green? 'It depends', is actually a competent answer. It does indeed depend on what you are counting (just the running costs, or the original manufacture costs too? What bout cost of recycling after end of life? Since the Well to Wheel costs are sometimes considered for ICE vehicles, equivalent acounting methods should apply.

Traditional cost approaches were miles-per-gallon, litres/100km etc. Sophisitcation improves if you wish to count depreciation, insurance, carbon generated during manufacture etc. But to compare like with like, you can simplify. If we both drive relatively new cars (similar manufacturing costs/losses), plan to keep them for a while (depreciation less relevant) and plan to drive similar distances (equivalent use, so tyre wear, different power usage etc can be ignored) then we only need consider the cost of getting around. That's the simple way, and its balanced and fair.

But what about making the batteries for an EV? Or the anti-pollution titanium inserts for ICE exhausts? For the total costs of getting around you could also add consideration of manufacture of electric motors (one moving part) vs gas ones (450 - 1000, depending); battery production and carbon costs compared with oil extraction and so on. 

In essence though, it's hard to ignore that there is something inherentrly green in a machine which uses a power source that can be totally green. I can plug my car into a solar panel charger and see no extra carbon produced during charging, just as there is no carbon produced during running - the using of that charge. Even biodeisel is still using an energy source that is naturally finite. And when the pricing is considered, electricity does it much more cheaply - my figures suggest about a tenth of the cost per kilometre, which is the running costs for a whole year for ZEV240, both before and after conversion.

Have I missed anything? What are your views?   

© bdc 2014