In Washington state, driving accounts for more global warming emissions than any other part of the economy. In fact, driving accounts for a majority of emissions in 55 of cities and towns across the state.
Nationally, the two biggest culprits for global warming emissions are transportation and power plants. Our new report, Road to a Fossil Free Future: How Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy Can Repower Washington State, finds that EVs may be able to help solve both problems at once.
By adopting EVs, Washington state can both clean up its transportation sector and provide a boost to the adoption of clean energy like wind and solar power. That’s because of the unique benefits EVs can provide to the grid. For example, by managing charging to absorb excess solar and wind power, EVs can limit the amount of renewable energy that goes wasted and improve the economics of renewable energy development. And when not in use, EVs may be able to feed energy back into the grid, reducing the need for certain grid infrastructure.
Of course, transitioning to EVs would likely increase the need to produce more electricity to power all those vehicles that once used gas or diesel. But Washington has plenty of clean energy potential to go around. We found that just 5.5 percent of Washington’s wind and solar energy resources could provide all the power needed for both current electricity needs, plus the energy for powering clean transportation. And that in the majority of Washington cities and towns, rooftop solar power just on small buildings could power an electrified vehicle fleet.
A system of EVs powered with clean energy would bring enormous benefits to public health and the environment. Our cars don’t merely add to global warming – they also leak fuel, create smog, ruin urban air quality, and require the dangerous and destructive extraction, processing and transportation of fossil fuels. The chance to move away that – while simultaneously pushing forward wind and solar power – is an opportunity that we shouldn’t pass up.
Photo: EV charging station in Custer, Washington. Credit: WSDOT Flickr