Thursday, September 9, 2010

Everything Green Has its Pros and Cons

According to ClimateWire, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates is releasing a report that argues the success of electric vehicles will be held back, in part, by shortages of recharging stations for urban motorists. Another problem: in a number of urban areas where wind or hydro power is not readily available, electric vehicles are likely to be recharged by coal-fired generating plants, whose carbon emissions will substantially undercut the vehicles' climate benefits.

So if you were to look at every type of alternative fuel vehicle, there is something getting in the way of its acceptance and support. For example...

Some environmentalists say electric vehicles are not really a solution. With all of the environmental impact of manufacturing and charging all those new EVs, they're not the answer - we should only be increasing bicycling, mass transit, and walking.

Natural gas and liquid petroleum gas (propane) are popular with fleets, but the critics say they're not as legitimate as renewable energy sources, and can create emergencies and disasters during drilling for the fuel. And some don't like the large tanks they take for storage onboard and wonder if they're worth the conversion costs.

A lot of investment is being made into biofuels through government funding, research and development, and corporate mergers. While flexible fuel vehicles are common across the country now, the corn ethanol that fuels them continues to be a sticky subject. Cellulosic and algae biofuels appear to be the next generation, but they're still far away from being in fuel stations.

There are no easy answers, and there's much at stake - global warming, or at least air pollution if you don't believe in global warming, economic growth and jobs, energy independence and global stability, the future of renewable energy... the list could go on. It certainly keeps things exciting.

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