Nuclear Keeps EV's CleanThe electric vehicle (EV) market has exploded and continues to expand, helped by a keen focus on emissions reduction targets. The EV market size is projected to grow from 8,151 units in 2022 to 39,208 units by the end of the decade, or at a rate of 21.7%. An increased demand for low-emission commuting with government support in the form of subsidies and tax rebates have created a global impact on the market and boosted demand even further. As a result, countries have defined targets for emission reductions and thanks to improvements in battery density, cost and more charging points, it is estimated that at least two-thirds of global car sales will be electric by the year 2040.
However, when we talk about “clean energy” we often think only of harmful emissions and certainly EVs are widely heralded for their ability to reduce these harmful emissions that contribute to climate change and other negative public health effects. But if an electric vehicle is plugged into a charging station powered by a carbon-emitting energy source, its ability to reduce emissions is effectively canceled out and in some cases reversed. Some estimates exist that demonstrate how charging an EV overnight in coal-dependent areas can actually generate more emissions than a car that runs on gasoline. Therefore, carbon-free energy like nuclear energy may be the best answer to charging electric vehicles while maintaining their ability to achieve clean energy targets.
Electric vehicles are one large part of a worldwide movement towards a near comprehensive reliance on electrical energy. Think about the last time you lost power and realized how much you couldn’t do that you once could because of our overwhelming connection to electrical appliances and devices. A widespread reliance on carbon-based fuels and other similar sources of energy are in the process of becoming converted to a reliance on electrical energy. It’s not simply an idea pushed vehemently by environmentalists and tech industry folk, the transitions and transformations are now a reality driven by consumers who are deeply attached to their smartphones and computers and other devices associated with them. This creates a challenge for utilities to increase electrical generation while also meeting new decarbonization standards, and while consumers want their EVs like they want their other electrical devices, they don’t want them if they are being charged by energy derived from fossil fuels.
Many believe that nuclear energy is the best option for the increased demand of affordable, carbon-free electricity, which includes EV charging stations. Already, nuclear reactors are responsible for more than half of all carbon-free energy produced in the United States and it pairs well with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. It’s recently been acknowledged by the scientific community that nuclear plant closures have had an impact on climate and air quality, and the explicitly recognize the need for nuclear power to play a substantial role in decarbonization efforts. Therefore, nuclear energy may also be essential to ensuring electrical vehicles become successful in reaching decarbonization targets, meeting electricity demand, and keeping electrical energy costs manageable.
It stands to reason then that to truly achieve a transportation system that achieves decarbonization goals, the entire supply chain of EVs must also be carbon-free. From electrical vehicles manufacturers, battery manufacturers and recharging stations – all must explore the incorporation of nuclear technology to power clean transportation. Without making such an important shift, consumer choices to drive EVs in order to reach a point of protection for our health and the health of the environment may end up short of their intended destinations.
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