What's so good about electric cars?

26 April 2009

Question

Dr. Chris, why is the government hell bent on electric cars? The science doesn’t make sense. It’s not greener as the production of electricity can be dirty from power stations and the short life of batteries and they were expensive to replace and difficult to dispose of...

Answer

Chris Smith - Well I think that Paul has a point which is that there's no such thing as a free lunch. If you are suing energy it's got to come from somewhere but the benefit in electric car offers is that it doesn't produce pollution once it's working as an electric car, obviously the pollution is all in one place, the power station, and that means that mitigating strategies to recover the waste from the power station, the CO2, the particles etc. can be done locally where the power station is and probably more effectively than fitting scrubbers and things which will be less efficient to a car and also individual cars are all going to be inherently less efficient than one giant power station.

So it's the sum of lots of little inefficiencies adding up to a bigger inefficiency, the one big inefficiency - the power station. So that's why we think electric cars are beneficial. They also are much better in traffic because stopping and starting burns enormous amounts of fuel waste, enormous amounts of energy. Electric motors are absolutely perfect for that kind of thing because they don't waste energy when they're not actually moving.

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