Electric cars are supposed to clean our cities from the pollution caused by internal combustion engines. Yet, a new study that shows EVs could in reality be increasing pollution in China.
The Chinese government is determined for the country to become an industry leader in the development and introduction of electric vehicles. As such, it is offering huge subsidies to encourage automakers and buyers to turn to electric power.
The problem is that the vast majority of the nation’s electricity comes from coal.
“Switching to EVs doesn’t inherently eliminate the use of fossil fuels, since the electricity that powers them could come from fossil fuels, which in China means coal,” said Scott Kennedy from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
“EVs may just be moving air pollution from one part of the country to another.”
Chinese EVs aren’t as clean as they may seem
A paper published last year by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute discovered that ICE-powered vehicles which use less than 7 liters of fuel per 100 km (40 mpg) are more environmentally friendly than electric vehicles coming out of China. The advantage of ICE vehicles becomes even more pronounced when the environmental costs of producing EVs are considered, The Financial Times reports.
Researchers from Harvard University and Tsinghua University in Beijing also report that production of China’s electric, plug-in petrol-electric hybrid and fuel-cell powered vehicles generates 50 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than the production of internal combustion engine powered ones.
A separate paper from Chinese oil company CNPC found that battery-powered cars emitted more than double the toxic PM2.5 particles responsible for China’s smog than ICE vehicles.
In 2015, 72 per cent of China’s power generation came from coal, a figure that’s expected tipped to fall below 50 per cent by 2040. Still, that’s 22 years from now – and in the meantime, coal factories will continue to contaminate the environment while producing “green” vehicles. Oh, the irony…