When It Comes to Energy, There’s No Free Ride

     Electric cars are a win-win proposition, right?  They’re the solution to many if not most of our vehicle emission problems, right?  They’re all good, whereas power derived from petroleum-based fuels is all bad, right?  Unfortunately, just as nothing in life is all good or all bad, so goes the reality behind electric cars.  Sure, they will most certainly reduce our reliance on foreign oil, which is a good thing, but they also come with some not-so-good things attached to them.

     Those of us who drive hybrids know that its battery must continually recharge.  It is able to do this through various means, many of which take their beginnings in the power that is derived from the fossil fuels that also run the car.

     So, too, will the batteries that charge electric cars eventually run down, and when they do, they must be plugged into a source of electrical energy to recharge.  So where does this electrical energy come from?  It comes from an electric utility grid, the same grid that provides powers to our homes and businesses.  And this is where the pretty picture converges upon some not so pretty elements, because the utility grid is largely fed by fossil fueled power plants that burn coal, natural gas, and, yes, even oil, the very thing we were trying to get away from when designing the concept for our electric cars.

     Presently, the US Department of Energy reports that 71.2 percent of our power is generated by burning fossil fuels, and ultimately this is what will be providing the power behind electric cars.  We all recognize the fact that the smoke that rises from the stacks of fossil fuel plants release pollutants into the environment, and we’re trying very earnestly to do something about that.  Would adding pollution control devices to them serve to curb their emissions?  Yes, but they would come at a high price as these devices are extremely expensive to build, operate, and maintain.  In fact, they are so expensive they would add a hefty price tag to our already high-priced electric utility bills.

     There’s got to be a better way to make the electricity to power a car, right?  What about using alternative energy sources?  We’ll explore these options next week.


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