Myth-Busting: EVs and “Unclean” Electricity

Norway is on track to having 50% of its vehicles electric by 2020. Where, some ask, will the additional electricity come from? Norway runs largely on renewables like hydropower – in fact, it generates so much that it exports some. Admittedly, the more hydropower Norway uses for its expanding EV fleet, the less it can export to the rest of Europe – and, the hypothetical situation goes, the more non-green electricity the rest of Europe may have to produce/source.

Norway Is a Model for Encouraging Electric Car Sales

That, however, is a spurious criticism of accelerated EV adoption.

Just because there is increasing demand for electricity from an increasing number of EVs, does not mean that green energy quantities remain static — these also increase over time, perhaps even more quickly than the additional demand created by additional EVs.

IEA Renewable Energy Growth

Indeed, as EVs and EV-charging stations are increasingly able to prioritize green electricity (thereby boosting demand for green electricity), this should correspondingly spur expansion of green energy production, increasing supply to meet increasing demand: an elementary economic sequence.

But even if rapid EV adoption does result in greater use of unclean energy, according to Ove Wolfgang — “a research scientist at SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia” — the net effect on the environment is still positive.

Roughly speaking, replacing 50% of Norway’s traditional cars with EVs would reduce annual CO2 emissions by 2.5 million tons. The theoretical increase in European unclean energy use would equate to an increase in annual CO2 emissions by about 1.5 millions tons. The net effect is an overall reduction in annual CO2 emissions by about 1 million tons.

Whatever the scenario in terms of electricity sourcing, rapid EV adoption is desirable.

Remember this the next time you argue with friends, relatives and/or strangers on the subject of pollution and what to do about it. The sooner we can dispel misguided doubts of EVs’ environmental benefits, the sooner EVs can attain mainstream acceptance, preference, and adoption.

And in case you were wondering exactly how Norway has been achieving such rapid adoption: