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Green EV: Pairing electric vehicles with renewable energy

With plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales taking off since the beginning of 2011 and many of the major automakers rolling out their own entries into the market, we think their success signals that consumers understand the EVs' main advantages—reduced dependence on oil, reduced pollution and greenhouse gases, and lower overall operating costs as gas becomes more expensive.

While EVs are certainly more environmentally friendly than their gas-powered brethren, because EVs charge from a electricity grid that is on average nearly 50 percent coal-powered, they cannot claim to be emissions-free. The goal of our Green EV program is to power every EV with clean, emissions-free renewable energy.

There are a number of ways this could happen:

1. EV owners can buy clean energy from their local electricity provider if a program is available, or they can buy renewable energy certificates for 100 percent of the electricity used by the car on an ongoing (generally monthly or annually) basis.
2. EV manufacturers can offer clean energy to new-car owners. This could take the form of a long-term contract at purchase time, a standard "feature" of the new car, or manufacturers could act as resellers and offer a branded green-power product to EV owners monthly or annually.
3. Municipal and other EV fleet owners can enter into a contract for a local utility green-pricing program or purchase renewable energy certificates.
4. Charging station owners can purchase renewable energy for all electricity used by the stations' customers. This is one way charging stations can differentiate themselves—by buying renewable energy, a charging station can offer a cleaner mix than its competitors, even if they are in the same building or adjoining stalls.
5. Rental car agencies can offer a "clean energy upgrade" to customers who rent EVs or offer it with the standard rental contract.
6. Car-sharing companies can offer a clean-energy option to their members.
7. EV support organizations such as owners' groups, service stations, dealers, or mapping services could create the ability to have centralized renewable energy purchasing for actual electricity used based on the car's own data, or mapping services could display the “shade of green” of the charging stations nearby, for example.

News
December 2012 NRDC Publishes "Plugging Vehicles into Clean Energy," a paper exploring the options for electric vehicles to use renewable energy. Read more here.
July 2012 BMW Partners with Green Mountain Energy Company to Provide Renewable Energy for Electric Vehicles. Read more here.
March 2012 For Less Than $5 Per Month, Austin Energy Offers Unlimited Electric Vehicle charging at More Than 100 EVerywhere™ Stations. Read more here.
Febrary 2012 4 Model Communities for Electric Vehicles. Read more at ZDNet.
February 2012 What Makes an EV-Friendly Community? Read more at Renewable Energy Fast.
December 2011 Austin’s supercharged network first in country. Read the news release here.
October 2011 Austin Energy has committed to powering all of its nearly 125 public and privately hosted charging stations with 100% Green-e Certified renewable energy from its GreenChoice program. If you have a charging station or network that you'd also like powered with Green-e Certified renewable energy, contact jeff [at] resource-solutions.org.

Join Us
Center for Resource Solutions is in the early stages of developing a strategy to pair electric vehicles in the U.S. with clean energy by working with these and other stakeholders. If you'd like to learn more about this initiative or become a partner, contact Jeff Swenerton at 415-561-2119 or jeff@resource-solutions.org.

Download the 1-page brief here

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