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Want to go green? Buy an electric car and move to Paraguay

Paraguay is the greenest place on the Earth to own and drive an electric car, thanks to its hydro-energy driven electricity grid.

The South American country produces a staggering five time more hydroelectricity than it uses, meaning that the footprint of running an electric car there is rated Shades-of-Green-Infographic tooat just 70 g CO2e/km-virtually all of which results from the vehicle manufacturing process-according to new research.

In  contrast, India, Australia and China coal’s dominated electricity grid means electric cars produce emissions ranging from 370-258 g CO2e/km, many multiples of those using low carbon sources.

New analysis by independent research group, Shrink That Footprint, assesses the climate impact of running fully electric cars in twenty of the world’s major counties and compares them to petrol vehicles.

The analysis includes the full scope of electricity, fuel and vehicle manufacturing emissions.

Over 200mpg equivalent

While Paraguay just steals the lead on Iceland as the greenest place to run an electric car, at the other end of the scale, India’s coal-fired electricity grid means that electric cars are no greener than petrol models. Here, battery powered models are rated as having a equivalent mpg of 20 (US gallons) compared to 229mpg in Paraguay. China only fares slightly better than India, achieving a rating of 30mpg equivalent.

Shades-of-Green-Infographic1The research is published in a new report entitled ‘Shades of Green: Electric Cars’ Carbon Emissions Around the Globe’ and shows how the impact of electric cars varies wildly with the grid generation of the country it is used in.

In the UK, Germany, Japan and Italy the broad fuel mix of natural gas, coal, nuclear
and hydro means an electric vehicle’s carbon footprint is similar to the best comparable petrol hybrids, or most efficient diesels. In the UK this equals a petrol fuel economy of 44mpg US (5.4 L/100 km), while in Germany this rises to 47 mpg US (5.0 L/100 km) In Canada and France, where hydroelectricity and nuclear energy dominate, the petrol emission equivalences are 87 MPGUS (2.7L/100 km) and 123 MPGUS (1.9 L/100 km) respectively.

In the US, the recent boom in shale gas is helping to lower electric driving emissions by displacing coal generation. Based on data from 2009, electric vehicle emissions are equivalent to gasoline cars with a fuel economy of 40mpg US (9 L/100 km), similar to a modern petrol hybrid. But given that the carbon intensity of electricity fell 15 per cent in the decade to 2009, and the dash for gas has continued since, electric vehicle emissions are likely to outperform gasoline hybrids nationally in the near term, as they already do in a number of states.

Lindsay Wilson, lead author of the analysis, commented: “This work highlights just how much the climate benefit of going electric varies around the world. To achieve their carbon reduction potential electric cars need to be deployed in tandem with low carbon electricity.”

Shrink That Footprint is an independent research group focussed on helping individuals reduce their climate impact. The full Shades of Green report can be accessed here:

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Faye Sunderland

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