In Cities Across the Country, Driving Electric Is Cheaper Than Gasoline
It's much cheaper to charge a car than fill it with gasoline, according to the study Going from Pump to Plug: Adding up the Savings from Electric Vehicles, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Tuesday. The analysis compared electricity rates and gasoline prices in 57 cities around the country. The study shows that electric vehicle (EV) drivers could save from $440 to more than $1,070 a year compared to the cost of fueling the average new gasoline-powered vehicle.
"Electric vehicles offer a lot of real benefits for drivers, but one of the most striking is how much cheaper they are to fuel," said David Reichmuth, senior engineer at UCS and author of the new study. "In every city we looked at, electric drivers saved significantly by switching from gasoline."
Even at Tuesday's relatively low gas prices, drivers can save by going electric. And while electricity prices are relatively stable, gas prices have historically been volatile. While the price of a gallon of gasoline has ranged from less than $2.00 to more than $4.50 over the past 15 years, the cost of electricity equivalent to a gallon of gas has only varied between $0.88 and $1.17 during that time. The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey shows the risk of sudden swings in gas prices—the price spike resulting from the damage done to oil infrastructure in Texas cost America's drivers an extra $3 billion in just four weeks.
In addition to the savings drivers can get from plugging in their car at home instead of filing up with gasoline, the study also examined the costs of public charging and the savings on maintenance costs. The cost of public charging can vary widely, from free to the same or even higher than gasoline prices in some cases. However, because the vast majority of charging occurs at home, public charging costs have only a small impact on overall savings. Battery electric vehicles are also much cheaper to maintain than traditional cars. With fewer moving parts and no need for oil changes, an electric vehicle can cut maintenance costs by more than half.
The amount drivers can save by going electric varies from city to city, and the new report details these savings for each of the 57 different cities studied. Across the country, electric vehicles also offer significantly lower global warming emissions than comparable gasoline vehicles.
While the upfront cost of EVs remains higher than comparable gasoline vehicles, EVs are increasingly affordable and compare favorably to similar gasoline vehicles when federal incentives are available. Falling battery costs and rising EV production are helping to push EV prices down.
"Electric vehicles can be really good for consumers, but we need to work harder to build out the market so more people can take advantage of the benefits," said Reichmuth. "Manufacturers are beginning to offer more electric options, but we also need better charging infrastructure and electricity plans. And we should defend state and federal policies that help make these vehicles affordable for more people."
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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