How “Green” Your EV Is Depends On Where You Live

Red Tesla Model X and Tesla Solar Roof

APR 13 2018 BY EVANNEX 17


There’s an important caveat with electric cars. Although electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, they draw their power from a wide variety of energy sources. Bloomberg reports, “Trading in your gasoline-guzzling car for an electric vehicle is a lot like shifting the emissions… [as] EVs run off electricity, and that electricity” can come from both clean and dirty energy sources.

RELATED: Renewable Energy Surpasses Coal As World’s #1 New Source Of Power

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Tesla Model 3 and Solar roof

Living the complete Tesla lifestyle (Image: Tesla)

Of course, if you live the 360-degree Tesla lifestyle — rooftop solar, Powerwall battery, and a Model 3 in your garage — you won’t have to rely on a dirty grid. To the end, “how green your EV is depends on where you’re plugging it in.” But, if you rely on the grid, “An electric car in Norway is probably the closest thing you’ll get to a true zero-emissions vehicle—because the European country draws almost all of its electricity from hydropower plants.”

Country's power grids compared

Above: Norway has the cleanest power grid of all countries measured (Source: Bloomberg)

Some countries are clearly better than others. For instance, “an electric car in China accounts for more than double the emissions than one in the U.K… [but] that’s still better than the average internal combustion engine.” Regardless, as evidenced below, “Driving an electric car is still better for the world than chugging around in a gasoline-burning one.”

Chart: Electric Cars are cleaner everywhere

Above: Across the world, electric cars are cleaner than gas cars (Source: Bloomberg)

And it gets better — over time, electric cars continue to get cleaner as the grid increases its use of renewable energy sources. For some context, “running off electricity was 39 percent cleaner than using internal combustion engines in 2016… and that gap is expected to widen to 67 percent by 2040 as solar and wind power keep taking on a bigger and bigger share of the world’s power mix.”

Chart: Benefits of driving electric over time

Above: Benefits of driving electric improve over time (Source: Bloomberg)

That said, what about the United States today? Energy sources vary from state to state. It’s reported that “California gets virtually none of its power from coal and Texas relies on the rock for more than a quarter. Also, not all fossil-fuel plants are created equal. Some states are stricter about the emissions these generators can spew than others. That’s why the emissions factor for power generation in cities across the U.S. can vary so greatly.”

Map of powerplant emissions

Above: Power plants in different U.S. states have different emissions levels (Source: Bloomberg)

Perhaps this is why Elon Musk is playing the long game. While legacy automakers team up with Big Oil to improve the internal combustion engine, Tesla is expanding into solar and batteries. In other words, “Tesla wants to offer the whole fossil fuel-free frittata. Forget ‘well to wheels.’ Tesla’s talking generation to acceleration.” And it’s not just houses and cars — Musk’s looking at transforming the entire grid itself. And Tesla’s already started in locations (big and small) all over the world.


Above: A look at the changing face of electricity (Youtube: Bloomberg)


Source: Bloomberg

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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17 Comments on "How “Green” Your EV Is Depends On Where You Live"

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You’re not going to convince most people to drive EV because of CO2 concerns. Just look around you as you’re surrounded by giant SUV/trucks stuck in traffic by solo drivers. They can’t even be bothered to get smaller cars to reduce CO2, they aren’t going to get EV.

Isn’t it ironic how the typical person who claims that EVs are dirty are also climate science deniers? They call our EVs “dirty” and then say they don’t care about how dirty their vehicle is.

Exactly, It’s like “When did you start caring?”

The answer is they don’t care; they just want to offset any guilt. Because they don’t actually care they haven’t done the research and don’t know the facts… Or at the very most they parrot some some twisted logic they’ve heard.

Ex1: Batteries aren’t recyclable! *Even if* EV batteries weren’t recyclable or reusable the fumes you pump into the atmosphere are only recycled&reused in your lungs… And a battery lasts the life of the car, gas lasts a week.

Ex2: Coal power! Yes, the electricity may be backed by coal plants but even with this dirty nasty source an EV is *still* cleaner than an ICE. Additionally, my favorite part is pointing out that in order to produce gas you must burn electricity! Roughly the same amount to produce a gallon as it takes for an EV to get down the road 20+ miles.

That being said “greenness” is on the lower half of *my* many reasons to drive an EV.

If the predictions I mentioned to Brian earlier come to pass in the next few years, I wonder if he will Label me the Truth teller, rather the “Climate Science Denier” that he does now and take the moniker for himself?

Right now, the US has decided to pick a fight with Russia, and it is quite amazing that insouciant Americans (or basically anyone in the West) could care less about it.

Unfortunately Mr. Trump has either proved that he is a MAN-Child with his idiot threatening tweets, or else there is a gun pointed to his head and family – there are no other logical explanations.

If things go ‘hot’ that will certainly change the ‘Climate’ (think Nuclear Winter) more than any electricity stations ever could.

Bill, forgive the provocative label. The point I was trying to make is that most people who label EVs as “dirty” ostensibly don’t actually care about having a “clean” car in the first place. My gut tells me that in their hearts, they really do care about the planet, but try to justify their purchases by claiming EVs aren’t clean.

For the record, I’m far less concerned about CO2 emissions from vehicles than all the other crud which will actually harm my health when I have to constantly breath it in.

Agreed. As far as my statements toward Trump, the Syrian attack (103 cruise missiles) – Syria claims to have shot down 71 of them – Russia was notified this time at least that the attack was going to occur, and the ‘coalition of the willing’ (USA, Britain, France) took care to not kill more Russians this time. Unlike the first strike when some 200 Russian Nationals (mostly contractors) were killed, this time none died. I’m sure that one of the side purposes of the ‘attack’ was to goad the Russians into using their countermeasures – but no Russian facilities responded. It is a little more than curious to me that just hours before the UN’s OPCW inspection group (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) were going to do a thorough inspection of the source of the Chemical Weapons (if any), and the admittedly feckless attack (they destroyed an educational building – at most) was mostly designed to make the OPCW’s job harder – plus to let Trump save face. Reminds me of Hans Blix not being able to find any Chemical Weapons before the 2003 Invasion of IRAQ – which turned out to be just another group of lies… Read more »

There is more to it than that.
If you charge Off Peak which 80% of EV drivers do you use excess energy that would get dumped if you don’t use it. That is why they offer super low rates at night.
So even a plugin car in Pennsylvania with 80% COAL is clean when you charge Off Peak.

“Excess electricity get dumped”? Oh, you mean like they throw it out the window. You must have been taking lessons from the SuperDope.

See Nix – Its really me who is typing.

Scoops and Stack hit the nail on the head. ZEVs are Zero Emission Vehicles, which means they do not emit NOx, CO2 and other toxic air pollutants from the vehicles . The naysayers are comparing emissions from the production of fuel, not the vehicles themselves. You would have to compare not only the production of fuel (oil and gasoline require a lot of electricity, as stated) but the transport of oil and gasoline emits immense amount of emissions from diesel tankers (land and sea), and electricity to run the fueling stations. EV fuel is delivered via transmission lines that to my knowledge do not emit anything, except maybe EMFs. Throw in inevitable truck, train and tanker mishaps and you have immense environmental distruction that electricity transport could ever create. And don’t even get me started on transcontinental oil pipelines!

Why didn’t you write more clearly “Nuclear power is great because it’s green energy!”? Just look at what is said about France: “roughly 75% nuclear”, “Electric vehicles are 99% cleaner than gasoline engines in France”, …
When the oldest nuclear power plant in France explodes, die fallout will come down where I live 🙁
And die nuclear waste doesn’t make any problems of course 🙁

CO2 at least can be easily “converted” to O2 by plants…

BTW: From the countries mentioned here, Germany is the second best concerning the percentage of renewable energy (look at the graphs).


I didn’t read the article because of who the author is. were they advocating nuclear? my post history here shows I am quite opposed.

notting – France is on-record of decreasing their Nuclear Power reliance over time down to eventually under 50%, seeing as their reactor manufactures have have plenty of troubles both in France and elsewhere…..

I have to hand it to France though, they DO seem to be proactive toward troubles and issues, and of course, they don’t have General Electric BWR’s that tend to fail spectacularly.

Although even though American Experience Lied about the fact that Three mile Island #2 actually did have a Hydrogen Explosion on Wednesday afternoon during that fateful week, the Containment building withstood the trauma – of course if a Prompt Criticality happened as in Fukushima Daiichi #3 (GE turnkey BWR), (with that fantastic MOX fuel loading), or the second of 2 explosions at Chernobyl #4, – No western style containment building would be able to withstand that.

As you imply, Nuclear Power plants are just great, and can work flawlessly (er, excepting ‘Routine Releases’ which are ALWAYS totally ignored) for decades, and then they have one bad day.

I have a better headline: how “green” your EV is depends on where you plug in.

you see, because I could be in antartica but if I’m producing my own electricity via solar, wind et al. it’ll be green(er). to reiterate; it makes less of a difference where I live and more how the power is generated.

No. Stupid article. Half the electric providers in America offer some sort of GREEN POWER PLAN that gets you 100% renewable energy for your home. And if your provider doesn’t offer one, there are companies like Arcadia Power and Community Energy that do. And in all these cases, it’s usually just a few extra dollars per month. There’s no excuse. There’s no reason to talk about different levels of cleanliness of the grids. Just shut up and pick a clean energy plan and be done with it.

At least in Germany, there’re (were?) providers which didn’t really put money into renewable energies, but like “re-labled” the renewable energy they have. So it’s just like selling of indulgences 🙁


Can you share this with Autoline (the dieing gasp of the ICE auto industry) since they did a recent bit on the “Bosche diesel” and followed up with an editorial bit on “we wish consumers could see the whole impact of different vehicles on their carbon footprint because EVs are only as clean as their source” (or words to that effect)?

I realize this article was more broadly comparing emissions/electricity source by country, but i think it would have benefited from going a little more in depth into the massive differences depending where you are within a country, the map of the USA with a few dots doesn’t really do it justice. This article has some good info on US regions: