Friday, November 07, 2008

The Virtues of the Electric Car

Everyone has seen the ad where the smart looking lime green car rolls up on to the suburban driveway and the astute owner gets out and plug the moral vehicle into the electrical outlet. The piece finishes with some mention of us all doing our part to clean up the planet. I watch this ad nine to ten times a day always wondering the same thing. Is electricity really a better alternative than gasoline? I mean sure the car doesn’t produce pollution directly, but where do people think electricity comes from? 57% of electricity in the lower 48 is produced by burning coal.

Here is a breakdown of burning coal

What are the environmental issues?
The popularity of coal is largely due to its low cost.
Nevertheless, coal power plants are responsible for 93 percent of the sulfur dioxide and 80 percent of the nitrogen oxide emissions generated by the electric utility industry.

These emissions spawn the acid rain that is eating away red spruce forests in the Northeast and Appalachia, and rob previously pristine streams of brook trout and other fish species in the Adirondacks, upper Midwest and Rocky Mountains.
Coal emissions also cause urban smog, which has been linked to respiratory ailments, and coal-fired power plants also contribute to global climate change. Coal plants emit 73 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from electricity generators. By releasing the energy stored in coal, large quantities of carbon dioxide that have been stored in the coal for millions of years are released back into the atmosphere, increasing the threat of global warming. Coal plants are also a major source of airborne emissions of mercury, a toxic heavy metal.
Federal law requires that air pollution be kept within limits. However, these limits are significantly lower for older coal plants than for newer ones. Even when kept within the air emission limits set by the Clean Air Act, state-of-the-art coal power plants still produce significant damage to human health, public and private property, and ecosystems.

I suppose we could always resort back to damning up all the rivers to produce more electricity. That would sure make less of an environmental impact than a small wellhead sticking a foot out of the ground!


At 1:33 PM, Blogger Guelph First said...

Until we can figure fusion out….Nuclear is the only way to go

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the mideast oil producers are importing coal to free up more oil for export.
So the oil fired electrical plants are in reality causing more coal pollution.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Limos Anderson said...

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At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Xebra said...

It is true that a lot of electricity comes from coal right now, but the fact is that electricity CAN be produces cleanly. For instance I use my own electric vehicle with the satisfaction of knowing that it genuinely produces no emissions because the electricity we use is hydro electricity.

Plus, even if you do factor in the emissions produces by a coal fired electric plant, even then, the EV produces only a fraction of what a traditional internal combustion engine does.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger angryroughneck said...

xebra, so is damning a river less of an impact than a well head?

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous barrie limo said...

i want experience with electric cars.

barrie limo


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