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Report: Electric car benefits a potentially costly ‘myth’

electric-car-charging-stationMisplaced faith in the energy efficiency of electric cars threatens to “distort UK transport policy and, potentially, to waste a great deal of public money,” according to Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Pike’s latest analysis, “The electric cart before the low-carbon horse,” (PDF) is published in the 20 May edition of Research Fortnight.

“The myth of the electric car centres on its energy efficiency, reduced carbon emissions and low operating costs,” Pike writes in the article. “There is no doubt that in a society of low-carbon power generation electric vehicles must be part of a country’s transportation strategy, but in the UK right now there is woolly thinking, a lack of scientific scrutiny and, from 2011, a potential waste of £250 million of public money to subsidise the purchase of over 50,000 vehicles.”

Citing figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Pike argues that the 36 per cent efficiency of typical power plants causes the apparent energy advantage of electric cars to effectively disappear.

“Even if the energy use were identical, the carbon emissions advantage of the electric car in today’s UK would be small,” Pike writes. “The complete replacement of all 30 million passenger cars in the UK, which form 12 per cent of the UK carbon footprint, can be shown to lower this figure to just 10 per cent at best.”

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