Many debates the environmental benefits of electric cars considering their electricity supply comes from power plants driven by fossil fuels. But scientists in the United States and China have pointed out the hidden benefits of such vehicles that could prove beneficial in combating urban heat problems.
Urban heat island is a phenomenon when gas-operated vehicles contribute to carbon emissions. The city temperatures soar due to heat generated by traffic and air conditioners and by warmth stored in the roads during the day, which is released in the night. A surge is seen in this trend in summers when a heatwave adds to the discomfort and heat stress.
A study led by Professor Canbing Li at Michigan State University in East Lansing found that using electric cars could alleviate this effect. Since EVs release only 20% of the heat that gasoline produces, trading them gas vehicles could reduce the temperature in the city and in turn the usage of air conditioners.
Had Beijing switched to electric cars in 2012, it could have reduced the urban heat island intensity by almost 1° C, cut CO2 emissions by 11,779 tons per day, and saved 14.4 million kWh of electricity from air conditioner usage.
However, the researchers were quick to point out that urban heat island is a result of many factors. City layout, building design, particulate pollution, energy efficiency, and parks also play an important part in worsening or weakening it.