This is a particularly busy time for studies trying to understand the impact of green vehicles. Here's a quick round-up:
Paul Scott writes that, for anyone to fairly compare driving plug-in vehicles and gasoline-powered ones, we need a better understanding of the "exernalities" of fossil fuels. That is, what effect do these energy sources have that are not reflected in the price of gas at the pump. One example from a recent Congressional study: "burning of the two worst fuels, coal and oil, accounts for about $120 billion each year in health costs." Also, "criteria air pollutants emitted by power plants and vehicles" are responsible for about 20,000 deaths per year. Solar-powered EVs, which Scott is a strong proponent of, can compete if these costs are added to what we typically figure is the cost of gas.
A few other recent surveys and reports have found that:
- Palm biodiesel can emit greenhouse gas emissions up to 2,000 percent higher than fossil fuels.
- For plug-in vehicles to have a bigger impact we need to clean the grid. Well, duh.
- There might be 17 million natural gas vehicles in the world by 2015.