Busting electric car myths: just how green is an EV?
ELECTRIC CAR MYTH: Because the grid burns fuel, electric vehicles aren’t low-carbon.
I assumed even skeptics of electric cars had realized this was a myth, but it came up again the other day, so we have to put it to rest. The myth says “Since grid electricity is produced with fossil fuels, electric vehicles do not reduce CO2 emissions.” Well, some of it is, but they still do it.
In 2021, the average cost of generating and sending electricity via the grid in the United Kingdom was 214g/kWh. This includes the drilling of gas and its distribution for the gas component. CO2 levels were lower on windy, sunny days due to the wind and solar energy; however, when there is darkness and no wind, the fossil content rises. So, if it’s a windy night, make sure your car is charged.
Presently, 1kWh will get a standard EV of about 5 kilometers. That’s the reality of driving, with onboard charger losses taken into account whenever you plug it in. As a result, 214g/kWh divided by 5km/kWh corresponds to 43g CO2 per km. The integrated CO2 in electricity will decrease as more renewables are implemented in the years ahead, making your EV greener.
No combustion engine vehicle can come close. (PHEVs aren’t included because they only meet the electric vehicle target if they utilize electricity in addition to gasoline. Therefore, they’re effectively electric cars for that portion.) A Toyota Yaris hybrid could achieve 70 miles per gallon, or 92 grams per kilometer. The majority of us get a real-world, not WLTP, fuel consumption of 40mpg, or 160g/km. That’s just from tank to wheel.
Fortunately, there is now a biofuel component in gasoline, which helps to offset the well-to-tank oil portion. So, in round numbers, an average electric vehicle emits about a quarter of the CO2 produced by a typical gasoline vehicle.