Is some of the energy powering electric cars generated from coal?

Monday, October 26, 2020
By Seth Smalley

Though electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, in most of the U.S. the electricity recharging their batteries likely includes some portion of coal-generated power. In 2019, coal accounted for more than 23% of the U.S. electricity supply, but its share varies regionally. It's almost 80% in West Virginia, and nearly zero in California.

In states with "relatively low-polluting energy sources," electric vehicles "typically have a well-to-wheel emissions advantage over similar conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel," the U.S. Energy Department says. In coal-dependent regions, the advantage may not be significant.

A 2020 study by three European universities found that in 95% of the world, electric vehicles "lead to lower carbon emissions overall, even if electricity generation still relies on fossil fuels."

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