Like many new concepts, when the idea of electric cars first hit the scene they were met with quite a bit of skepticism. Nobody really gave any credence to the idea that electric vehicles could actually replace good old, gas-powered Detroit steel. Flash forward to the present day—there are more than 500,000 electric cars on the road in the United States alone. They’re a major component of the big push for green energy across the country.
But are electric cars really as green as we once thought?
While it’s true that fully electric cars don’t dump the kind of pollution into the atmosphere than traditional cars with tailpipes do, most people forget that the electricity these “green” vehicles run on have to come from somewhere—namely, powerplants. Those powerplants aren’t traditionally the cleanest or greenest structures in the world.
Sure, many large cities and municipalities have committed to going 100% clean in terms of power over the next 30 years, but 30 years is a long time. Meanwhile, coal-burning power sources are still supplying the power for the majority of the electric cars on the road. Even if all the utility companies committed to converting to 100% green energy at once, the cost of doing so would cost an estimated $20 trillion. In other words, it’s 100% unreasonable to think that would ever happen.
Another thing to consider is the fact that more and more of the systems we use every day are becoming electrified, meaning the demand for electricity is continually rising. Green vehicles are only adding to that demand. So, without the necessary number of green powerplants, the question still stands: Are electric vehicles truly helping the environment?
We don’t know the exact answer and honestly, it’s probably irrelevant. Research has estimated that as much as 75% of all vehicles on the road by 2050 could be electric.
The other elephant in the room when it comes to the issue of green energy is politics. Politicians on both sides of the fence constantly campaign for conflicting goals, and the rest of us (the ones who use the majority of the power in America) are stuck in the middle. In theory, going completely green is a great idea, but there are other factors to consider along the way, and skipping over any of these factors could be financially catastrophic.