February 13, 2012
Electric Vehicles Cause More Pollution In China

The coal electric power plants in China emit so much particulate and other pollution that a shift from gasoline to electric vehicles in China would worsen air quality.

For electric vehicles, combustion emissions occur where electricity is generated rather than where the vehicle is used. In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal. The authors discovered that the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because the emissions related to the electric vehicles often come from power plants located away from population centers, people breathe in the emissions a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.

Still, the rate isn't low enough to level the playing field between the vehicles. In terms of air pollution impacts, electric cars are more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled in China than conventional vehicles.

"The study emphasizes that electric vehicles are attractive if they are powered by a clean energy source," Cherry said."In China and elsewhere, it is important to focus on deploying electric vehicles in cities with cleaner electricity generation and focusing on improving emissions controls in higher polluting power sectors."

Electric cars have the potential to lower total pollution. But first electric power generation needs to be made more clean. So cleanliness of electric power plants is more important than the types of drive trains used in cars. Mandates for scrubbing coal electric power plant emissions or a shift to nukes, solar, and/or wind power would cut back pollution for all the uses of electric power.

We need cheaper ways to cleanly generate electric power. Nukes, wind, and especially solar still cost too much.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 February 13 11:03 PM  Energy Electric Generators


Comments
Guillaume Theoret said at February 14, 2012 1:36 AM:

Hydro is also very effective in areas that can support it. Quebec has very clean electric due to the abundance of hydro.

wowlfer said at February 14, 2012 9:12 AM:

Simple solution: Have electric car users put solar power panels on their rooftops and go fully electric. That's what I do!

Gimlet said at February 15, 2012 11:26 AM:

wowlfer: That may work some places, but it's not really a solution for the Pacific Northwest, London, etc.

Engineer-Poet said at February 15, 2012 2:02 PM:

Instapundit picked this up, and omitted the essential caveat "... in China".

I sent him these two links regarding cleanup, which he ignored:

http://ne

http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/02/air-pollution-health-costs-ten-to.html

Glenn Reynolds (and whoever else is handling Instanpundit) is not very concerned with things like accuracy.

bbartlog said at February 15, 2012 6:49 PM:

Wow. Those are some piss-poor coal fired power plants (in terms of their pollution) if they can't compete kW for kW with a gasoline engine. Points to a failure of governance in China, really; the cost of scrubbers for all those plants would no doubt be very large (billions) but the overall savings in medical costs and human welfare would surely be tenfold.

Ronald Brak said at February 16, 2012 4:25 PM:

The horrid state of a lot of China's coal power plants is one reason why China's build out of new coal plants isn't quite as disastrous as it seems. They are shutting down older, less efficient, more polluting plants. However, China's reliance on coal power is still pretty disastrous. They burn a lot of highly polluting and inefficient brown coal.

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