Remember when ethanol was going to save us all from our dependence on foreign oil and help us clean up our dirty carbon footprint, too? Those were the days...before food prices skyrocketed because many midwest farmers stopped growing corn for food, and focused on the much more profitable corn-for-ethanol production. And experts everywhere decried the INCREASE in carbon footprinting for a variety of reasons (water and chemicals used to produce corn, clearing of rainforest to grow corn, the fuel used to harvest and ship the grain, among others). And after all of the hype, fewer than 1500 gas stations across the United States sell E85. Wal-mart can't even decide if it wants to pay the hefty $200,000 price tag EACH to update its Sam's Club gas stations, even with the Fed's generous $30,000 grants to add the E85-capable pumps and tanks.
All of this, and only a tiny fraction of cars on the road right now are flex-fuel (capable of running on E85), and only a fracton of those drivers use E85, mainly because they can't find a filling station, or because they don't like the decreased fuel economy even with the cheaper price tag per gallon than regular gasoline.
Which brings us to an interesting EV debate. What potential unseen "side effects" of the EV revolution are lurking out there?
The first that comes to mind has fortunately already been addressed: The increased pressure on some already-overburdened power grids. According to the EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), most utility companies are already well into the planning phase of what they call "smart charging," a system through which plug-in electric vehicles would be charged during off-peak hours, thus nipping that pesky brown-out issue in the bud.
The next potential issue is a little stickier, but again has already begun to be addressed. Many power plants in the United States are still the "dirty" coal-fired variety, leading some industry pundits to question the trade-off of cleaner cars on the roads being fueled by "dirty" electricity. In most expert's opinions, however, the benefits far outweigh the potential costs.
What do you think? Do you have anything to add to the debate? Any hidden potential issues or "side effects" ala E85 you see in the pipeline?