While electric vehicles are probably most tied to “being green,” another key societal benefit is that they increase national security, and the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) recently released a report about that as well.
There are multiple reasons for this. The most commonly touted and obvious one is that the United States relies heavily on Middle Eastern countries for petroleum, which is necessary for the production of gasoline and diesel.
The vast majority of American automobiles are powered by this, and some electric vehicles are a bit, too. Unlike some countries, however, petroleum-based fuels aren’t widely used for electricity in the U.S. Coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewable energy sources are the main sources of electricity. According to 2012 data, they accounted for 37.42%, 30.35%, 18.97%, and 17.61% of electricity generation. Petroleum-based fuels accounted for 0.56%.
Gasoline and diesel are so unpopular as electricity sources because they are very expensive compared to these other electricity sources.
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The Golden Reason Why Electrification Helps National Security
I hear people mention this occasionally, but it really is quite significant. Electric vehicles have the potential to be used in any energy crises, whether it is induced by an oil embargo, lack of coal, natural gas, or the shortage of any other source of energy.
Electric vehicle owners can literally choose from any source of energy to charge their cars, even if it is a backup propane generator at home with enough extra fuel to last a while, or if garbage is incinerated to power steam power plants. Or, of course, from solar panels and wind turbines.
There will always be a source of energy for electric vehicles.
Golden Reason #2 (or #1)
Beyond the issue mentioned above, climate change is a massive threat to national security — from wars to disease to agricultural failures, climate change threatens core aspects of society (see the national security–climate change video on the bottom of this post for more on this).
Of course, the burning of oil is a leading cause of global warming and climate change. If we keep burning oil (and coal) at the rate we have been, we will face catastrophic consequences that could dismantle society as we know it.
Electric vehicles are already much greener than gasoline-powered cars, even on relatively dirty grids. And as we repeatedly note here on CleanTechnica, wind and solar power are growing fast. Wind accounted for more new power capacity in the U.S. in 2012 than any other power source. And, in 2013, solar is likely to be the #2 source of new power capacity (behind natural gas).
So, electric vehicles are a clear way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent more global warming.
The U.S Military
Oil embargoes and shortages are a national security issue because the high cost of oil eats into the military’s budget, reducing their ability to remain fully operational and to innovate.
Embargoes can literally prevent the military from functioning, as their tanks and Humvees rely on oil.
Outside of the military, embargoes cause economic shock because the economy is heavily reliant on oil for the delivery of goods and services, and, perhaps even more important is that most people use it to get to work, and if people can’t get to work, the operations of banks, supermarkets, hospitals, pharmacies, and everything else grinds to a halt.
This issue will also affect the military, as the economy would take a hard hit from this, and the military couldn’t be adequately funded.
So, this is just another reason to buy an electric vehicle (or a plug-in hybrid, since these can rely on electricity for the majority of an owner’s trips). Plus, many of you can save some money by going electric!