Electric vehicles are better for the environment than solar panels

If you’re the owner of an electric vehicle, then you’re doing more for climate change than the owner of a house with solar panels on its roof.

So says a recent report from Concept Consulting, a Wellington-based organisation, which has been reviewing the impact of electric cars and residential solar power systems upon New Zealand’s carbon footprint.

The report say that EVs – charged by low-emission power sources and primarily off-peak - could eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from petrol and diesel in the long term, and subsequently reduce annual carbon emissions by up to 1.7 tonnes.

“If we are serious about tackling climate change, we must keep crunching the numbers. Sometimes the results will be surprising,” said Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright who has called for people to take heeding of its findings.

“Electric cars are a no-brainer. Carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles are a big problem and getting worse. Electric cars must be part of our future.”

The report also shows that our weather system plays a part in the reduced impact of solar panels in New Zealand, compared to other places in the world.

Electricity-generated carbon dioxide emissions are at their highest in winter, but solar panels are of course most effective in summer. And because New Zealand’s electricity is already generated by renewable sources like hydro, wind and geo-thermal power, solar panels on roofs are only likely to substitute other renewable energy generation.

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges - also Minister of Energy and Resources – said earlier this month that a network of charging infrastructure was necessary to support the increased uptake of electric vehicles and to facilitate longer distance travel in New Zealand.

“Across their life cycle, from resource extraction and manufacturing to driving and disposal, electric vehicles have 60% fewer CO2 emissions than petrol vehicles,” he said at the opening of a charging station in Tauranga.

“In addition, because of New Zealand’s high renewable electricity generation, they have 80 percent fewer CO2 emissions when driven here. If we start to replace our fleet with electric vehicles, we can begin to significantly reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

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