How ‘green’ is an EV if the power to charge it comes from fossil fuels?

June 28, 2022

Where your power comes from matters, but…

When it comes to electric vehicles, SGOTI – ‘some guy on the internet’ – sure has a lot to say.  One common suggestion is that EVs are no better than conventional vehicles in places where a lot of electricity comes from fossil fuels.

It’s definitely true that the source of the power used to charge an EV matters. If an EV runs entirely on renewable, non-emitting power, it has zero driving emissions.  However, if it runs on power generated from fossil fuels, you could say a share of those power plant emissions rightfully belong to the EV. 

The real question then becomes: at what mix of power generation sources (IE emitting versus non-emitting) are EVs really better?  Or perhaps the more relevant question for each of us: what’s the situation in my province or state?

And here’s the answer: across North America, even in areas where most power is generated by fossil fuels, EVs generate fewer emissions than conventional vehicles. 

If you’d like to take a deeper dive, here are a few sources to browse:

One further key point: power grids are changing quickly because of the rapid uptake of renewable power sources, wind and solar in particular.  So EVs are worth adopting even in areas that get a lot of their power from fossil fuels, because emission reductions will increase as those power grids get more and more of their energy from clean, non-emitting sources.

So the next time SGOTI – or anyone else – questions the emission reduction potential of EVs, please refer them to the above links!

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