A U.S. National Research Council report released on Monday concludes that in North America at least, "For electric vehicles to become a major green alternative, the power fuel mix has to move away from coal, or cleaner coal technologies have to be developed...".
According to Jared Cohan, chair of the council and president of Carnegie Mellon University, nuclear and renewable power would have to generate a larger portion of U.S. power for electric cars to become much greener compared to gasoline-powered cars. He went on to say that Advances in coal burning, like capturing carbon at power plants for permanent burial underground, could also help electric cars become a cleaner alternative to vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
The NRC report, requested by the U.S. Congress in 2005 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, uses dollar figures as a metric to quantify "damage caused to human health, agriculture and recreation" by the fabrication and operation of various technologies.
Emissions from operating and building electric cars in 2005 cost from 0.20 cents to 15 cents per vehicle mile traveled, compared with from 0.34 cents to 5.04 cents per vehicle mile traveled for internal combustion vehicles. The report projects that by 2030 electric cars could still cost more than gasoline-powered cars to operate and manufacture in 2030 unless U.S. power production becomes cleaner.
However, hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles with batteries that are charged by the driver hitting the brakes scored slightly better than both gasoline-powered cars and plug-in hybrid cars, which have batteries that are charged by the power grid.