Is your EV Green?

Green EV: Pairing electric vehicles with renewable energy

With plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales taking off since the beginning of 2011 and many of the major automakers rolling out their own entries into the market, we think their success signals that consumers understand the EVs’ main advantages—reduced dependence on oil, reduced pollution and greenhouse gases, and lower overall operating costs as gas becomes more expensive.

While EVs are certainly more environmentally friendly than their gas-powered brethren, because EVs charge from a electricity grid that is on average nearly 50 percent coal-powered, they cannot claim to be emissions-free. The goal of our Green EV program is to power every EV with clean, emissions-free renewable energy.

Your Electricity Mix
Nationwide, electricity generation on average is about 43% coal, 21% natural gas, 20% nuclear, and only about 10% comes from clean power. To find out the electricity mix in your area, see the EPA Power Profiler.

There are a number of ways this could happen:

1. EV owners can buy clean energy from their local electricity provider if a program is available, or they can buy renewable energy certificates for 100 percent of the electricity used by the car on an ongoing (generally monthly) basis.
2. EV manufacturers can offer clean energy to new-car owners. This could take the form of a long-term contract at purchase time, a standard “feature” of the new car, or manufacturers could act as resellers and offer a branded green-power product to EV owners monthly or annually.
3. Municipal EV fleets can enter into a contract for a local utility green-pricing program or purchase renewable energy certificates.
4. Charging station owners can purchase renewable energy for all the electricity used by owners.
5. Rental car agencies can offer a “clean energy upgrade” to customers who rent EVs or offer it with the contract.
6. Car-sharing companies can offer a clean-energy option to their members.

Center for Resource Solutions is in the early stages of developing a strategy to pair electric vehicles in the U.S. with clean energy by working with these and other stakeholders. If you’d like to learn more about this initiative or become a partner, contact Jeff Swenerton at 415-561-2119 or

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