Update on electric vehicles

Update on electric vehicles

Update on electric vehicles

There is a quiet competition for second place in the biggest carbon-emitter contest. Transportation and electricity production are the two industries working to reduce their carbon footprints.

Electricity production has made significant reductions, mostly through a shift from coal to natural gas, which has also reduced cost. The other reduction in CO2 has come from increased renewables in the generation mix, primarily wind and solar additions. As a result, the transportation sector has now become the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

The forward-thinking consensus is that extreme carbon reductions can be achieved by a two-step move. Shift transportation to be electric while at the same time shifting electricity production to reduced carbon. The short-cut phrase for step one is “electrify everything.” Working for an electric producer, this should be a banner to wave high!

For example, General Motors plans to introduce 20 electric vehicles (EVs) in the next five years, in addition to the 13 already offered which have some form of electrification. The Chicago Transit Authority just bought 290 electric buses from Proterra, which has a manufacturing plant here in South Carolina. Duke Energy just bought 500 electric pickup trucks from the Workhorse Group. The pickups are made in Union City, Ind. UPS Inc. is buying 1,000 electric delivery vans from this same company.

Fuel and maintenance costs of EVs are one-third that of diesel vehicles, according to George Miller of BYD America. BYD is a Chinese-based firm and is the world’s largest EV manufacturer. The initial price of an EV is higher, but life-cycle savings offset this.

My personal recommendation? A Chevrolet Volt combined with the purchase of Santee Cooper GreenPower to power it with certified renewable kilowatt-hours. Even when driving on gas (when the battery switches over on a long trip) the 44 mpg fuel economy helps lower my carbon footprint.

Electrify everything, and then GreenPower it!

Author Elizabeth Kress

Elizabeth Kress

Elizabeth “Liz” Kress is a senior engineer with Santee Cooper, working in the Renewable Energy department. She acts as a developer of biomass and solar projects. Liz has been instrumental in increasing Santee Cooper’s renewable generation, and has also been involved in the feasibility work on offshore wind for South Carolina.

She graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., with a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgy and materials engineering, and has a master’s degree in business from the University of South Carolina.