Rational Cause for Optimism

It's Good News That 80% of Americans Drive 40 Miles Per Day

From our bird's-eye view of the renewable energy industry, we often see positive developments for humanity before they become common knowledge. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the clean energy innovations and sustainability actions that are legitimate cause for optimism despite the very real threats to people and the environment posed by climate damage.

by ReVision Energy co-founder Phil Coupe

With leaf-peeping season upon us, multitudes of New Englanders will be hopping in their cars and onto buses to observe one of Mother Nature’s most glorious local ‘artworks.’ In the context of all those extra vehicle trips, it’s worth remembering that tailpipe exhaust from internal combustion engines comprises more than 50% of total greenhouse gas emissions in New England.

Derry Nh Electric Vehicle ChargersThe good news is that electric vehicles (EVs), and a small but growing fleet of electric buses, are beginning to reduce those harmful tailpipe emissions. But skeptics continue to argue that a transition to EVs is impossible due to a lack of public charging stations, range concerns, and costs.

As domestic and foreign EV manufacturers scale up and continue to deliver a wider range of models, the naysayers’ range anxiety and cost arguments are getting easier and easier to swat away. A quick internet survey of available EVs shows that there are now models below $30,000 (before you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit!) with roughly 250 to 300 miles of range on one charge.

Hanover Nh Solar Ev LewinIt's critical to note that 80% of Americans drive their vehicle ~40 miles per day, or about 15,000 miles per year. Why? Because this shows that the vast majority of us can maintain our existing lifestyle with an EV that goes 250 to 300 miles on one charge. Plus, it costs 50% less per mile to charge an EV with grid electricity than to fill up a gas-powered car, and EVs reduce tailpipe pollution by 50% (both cost and emissions drop to zero when charging the EV with solar electricity).

So, if 80% of the population can wake up each day with a vehicle that was fully charged at home overnight, it means that we don’t have to worry about replicating the ‘gas station on every corner’ internal combustion engine transportation model that has evolved over the last century! Instead, we just need to replace 35 to 40% of gas stations with public EV charging stations.

Tesla Parked Outside Of Portland, Maine's Solar Powered Garage On Fore StreetIn addition to the fact that we are already building EV charging stations at a rapid clip in New England and beyond, Tesla has also agreed to open its nationwide network of more than 50,000 superchargers to non-Tesla EVs. Plus, gas station owners like Irving Oil and Shell are shrewdly getting into the EV charging business. In fact, Shell just opened the largest EV charging cluster in the world in Shenzen, China with the ability to charge 3,300 vehicles per day via 258 public fast-charging stations partially powered by solar electricity.

Shell’s goal is to have 200,000 public EV chargers online by 2030. The electric vehicles and public charging infrastructure we need to eliminate more than 50% of New England’s carbon pollution are coming to fruition much faster than anyone predicted just a few years ago - that's rational cause for optimism to us. Have you picked out your EV to retire one more internal combustion engine?