The Challenges of New Eco-Friendly Tech – Are Electric Cars Really That Green?

Increasing the focus on renewable energy sources is gaining more and more traction around the globe, and as consumers and the public gain a better understanding of how things like wind turbines work, as they continue to pop up on the horizon, it is easy to think that we are heading down the right path with the right technologies.

The car is one of the worst culprits when it comes to excess Co2, and the development of hybrid engines, and the currently extremely popular electric powered vehicles also seems, on the surface, to be a step in the right direction.

New evidence however, suggests that unfortunately some of these approaches may not be as effective as first though, and this is especially true for the electric powered car.

Potential Environmental Dangers

A recent study conducted at the University of Minnesota found that electric cars could in fact be adding to the problems of global warming, despite being touted as the ideal solution for a gasoline free vehicle. While electric cars themselves are essentially clean running vehicles, the problem lies in where the energy to power the cars, via charging stations, is generated. If coal power is used for example, and it commonly is, then the amount of pollution produced by these power plants greatly outweighs any potential advantages electric cars bring to the table.

This is troubling news of course, because in the last few years, especially in the US, electric cars have gained increasing popularity, with companies such as Tesla blazing the way for the green vehicle movement and taking the markets by storm.

This not only raises pertinent questions about whether the right steps are being made at the fundamental starting points of power grids in order to effectively reduce emissions, but also highlights the increasing importance of consumer awareness in regards to these technologies. Additionally of course, newer, greener technologies are still fairly expensive compared to traditional ones, and this means that most people on a budget are forced into using dirtier tech. Once again however, this leads to awareness – there are a number of ways to limit the expenses incurred by choosing greener technology both on the road and in the home, as a number of financial guides point out.

The real problem though, is making sure both companies and consumers, as well as the government, are fully aware of how each step affects Co2 levels, and makes informed choices about what green options to choose based on effectiveness as well as cost.

Is Traditional Tech Actually Cleaner?

Another interesting find of the aforementioned study is that overall, it was found that driving a traditional gasoline car actually ended up causing less overall environmental damage than an a electric car using energy from a coal power plant.

This is of course, probably the last thing environmental campaigners want to hear, and could have far reaching impacts on the overall perceptions of what constitutes green technology.

However, while these face value facts can be troubling, there is still a number of positives that need to be built upon, especially in regards to emission free vehicles.Hybrid cars for example, are still a great option, and were found to produce less emissions than standard gasoline, or coal powered electric vehicles.Secondly, while an electric vehicle using coal power as a base can end up being worse than a gasoline vehicle, the reality is that overall, they are much cleaner.

This does depend on having access to a cleaner form of initial power of course, but as coal plants are slowly being phased out, this problem could be eliminated altogether in the coming years.

One thing that the study does highlight is the nature of the problem when it comes to changing over to green tech. Until the original source of power itself is sustainable, almost all other technologies which rely on such a source are likely to not be as effective.

This doesn’t mean that we should stop using electric cars of course, or ignore the problem, as there are many initiatives and organizations already helping to take communities into a greener future, and ultimately renewable technology is the way forward.


This is a freelance article from Gemma Fair

Shibashis Ghosh

Hi, I am Shibashis, a blogger by passion and engineer by profession. I have written most of the articles for For more than a decades i am closely associated with the engineering design/manufacturing simulation technologies.
Disclaimer: I work for Altair. is my personal blog. Although i have tried to put my neutral opinion while writing about different competitor's technologies, still i would like you to read the articles by keeping my background in mind.

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