The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) recently completed a study that suggests Colorado's bulk-electricity generation policies will, by 2020, make electric vehicles the cleanest mode of transportation in the state.
The new report, ‘Transportation Fuels for Colorado's Future,’ compares the ‘wells to wheels’ energy use and air pollution of vehicles fueled by gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG) and electricity. It analyzes energy use and emissions from manufacturing through to the disposal of vehicles; extraction and processing of the fuels; and emissions related to driving.
‘In terms of energy efficiency and emissions, gasoline, electric and CNG vehicles each perform best on certain metrics in 2013,’ says Mike Salisbury, author of the report and a transportation research associate at SWEEP. ‘However, as existing state policies improve the electric grid, the plug-in electric vehicle is going to accelerate past gasoline and CNG as the cleanest car in just a short period of time.’
The state's renewable energy standard requires investor-owned utilities to provide 30% of power generation from renewable sources of energy by 2020 (and other utilities, 10%). These policies are expected to make power generation in Colorado cleaner and more efficient over time, and ‘electricity as a fuel for vehicles will follow suit,’ SWEEP says.
The report does not, however, include an analysis of the projected costs associated with acquiring, fueling and maintaining each class of vehicle in 2020.