In the more than 10 years I have been doing SolarChargedDriving.Com and advocating for solar-charged driving, the electric grid has gotten considerably cleaner in the United States — and in many places around the world.
Electric cars have always been cleaner from an air pollution standpoint, even in places where coal has, or used to, dominate. But those places where coal dominates have receded considerably in the past decade. Indeed, there are many places in the United States where, when you plug in your electric car into the grid, your electricity is being generated primarily by renewable energy sources.
Obviously, if you plug into a home solar system and/or pay your utility for renewable energy — I do both — then your electric car is clean, clean, clean! And by plugging an EV into renewable energy-generated electricity you help to make the air where you live cleaner, cleaner, cleaner.
Gasoline cars will NEVER be powered by 100% clean, renewable-energy generated fuel. Electric cars will be, hopefully, sooner rather than later.
This cool interactive graphic produced by ElectricRate.Com helps you to see how much renewable energy is powering the grid in the U.S. state in which you live. Of course, measuring grid mix on a state level is not as accurate as measuring grid mix on an individual utility level. There can be substantial variability within a given state by utility in terms of how electricity is being produced.
However, this noted, the graphic is fun to navigate nonetheless. I recommend trying it for a bit of fun — and for fantasizing how much greener the U.S. grid is going to look in two, five and 10 years!
Currently, seven states — California, Idaho, Maine, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington — have a statewide electric grid mix of 50% renewable energy or more. Idaho, thanks largely to hydropower (44%) and wind (15%) leads in the statewide race for renewable energy with 78% of its electricity coming via renewable energy-generated electricity.
Another 10 U.S. states generate at least 25% of their electricity via renewable energy, including Colorado, where I live (my utility, Xcel Energy produces 33% of its electricity via renewable energy forms, primarily wind).
Yes, we have a ways to go in terms of greening our American electric grid. BUT we have come a ways as well, AND, with renewable energy and renewable energy + EVs, there is a chance to get to 100%! Hopefully, this will happen sooner, rather than later!