Automakers and environmentalists often tout electric vehicles as cleaner than gas-powered vehicles. At first glance, that argument holds true because electricity doesn’t cause harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The reality is a little more complicated than that general idea, though. Most people only consider emissions from the vehicles themselves rather than the overall impact on the environment. Although electric engines cause no pollution, the electricity used in them is another story.
How Electric Energy Is Produced Makes A Difference
Not all electricity is produced in the same manner. Electric energy production comes from burning coal and utilizing wind or solar power. On the West Coast, environmentally friendly production is more common. The Midwest and East Coast tend to generate electricity through dirtier methods. An electric vehicle that draws electricity from a clean source is cleaner than a gas-fed car or truck. Pollution from electricity production varies by region, though, and must be taken into consideration.
Therefore, electric vehicles in certain regions are dirtier than their gasoline counterparts. The West Coast produces the cleanest energy in the nation, which makes an electric vehicle as clean as possible today. Shift over to the rest of the country, and electric starts to look a lot dirtier. In some cases, gasoline-powered vehicles make the most sense from an environmental and financial standpoint. Environmentalists often find such news shocking, but electricity isn’t always a clean option.
Sometimes, it’s better to save electricity!
In a perfect world, electric cars would be 100% clean vehicles, and gasoline engines would always be the dirtier option. That’s not the case as of right now. Certain factors make it a better option to save electricity in favor of gas. The situation could easily change moving forward as regions adopt more environmentally friendly processes for generating electricity. Either way, consumers shouldn’t assume that electric vehicles gain victory over gas vehicles in every single case.