Zero Emission Electric Vehicles in Hawaii

Every January I abandon Alaska for Hawaii.  My first day in Hawaii and what do I see….a Nissan Leaf all electric car.  I’d never seen one on a road before.  Alaska vehicles are more about ground clearance and all wheel drive; Hawaii has many small vehicles that are easy to park and frugal to operate.   Hawaii also has lots of luxury vehicles that are all about status.  Lexus SUVs, and Jaguars are popular here.

Ah well…back to the Leaf.   Nissan has placed the big lie of Electric vehicles in clear view on the tailgate….a sign saying Zero Emission.   I’m sorry, there is no such thing.   Any electric appliance has air emissions and pollution associated with it….the emissions and pollution produced at the power plant.

There is always some carbon emissions and air pollution at the power plant.  Even wind and solar installations have emissions associated with manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance and retirement.   Oahu produces most of its power in OIL fired generators at big power plants.   Oahu does have some solar and wind, but the wind is a very small component and the solar is almost entirely residential. Virtually all power used when the sun is not shining is oil based.

Normally I would be OK with an electric auto, but not in Hawaii.  In most parts of the USA, power is generated using natural gas or coal or hydro or nuclear and all are domestic sources of energy.  In those cases electric cars aid our drive for energy independence.  When the source of electricity is coal or oil, an electric car actually pollutes more than a modern gasoline vehicle.

In Hawaii a person driving an electric vehicle is simply changing the location of the oil consumption.  Throw in the considerable disposal problems presented by the Leaf’s batteries and you have an expensive car with lousy range that  effectively burns oil and pollutes the environment.

And Hawaii has a subsidy to provide electric fueling stations…go figure.

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