The Economic Perspective: “Is Electricity a Clean Energy Source?”

Mary: I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic
perspective. Today’s program asks if electricity is a clean energy source. Mike, many
people are trying to increase their power usage from electricity. Electric vehicles are a
good example. People are told to use electric vehicles because they are a cleaner source
of energy than gasoline. But is that always true?
Mike: Summary Answer
a. What many people don’t think about is that electricity is not an original
energy source
b. Has to be generated from an original energy source, like coal, nuclear, solar,
or nuclear
c. So, to determine how clean electricity is, need to ask what generates it
d. Today the breakdown is: 38% natural gas, 23% coal, 20% nuclear, 7% wind,
7% hydro, 2% solar, 1% coal, and then some minor sources
e. Big change in recent decades has been decline in coal – which does have large
CO2 emissions – and increase in natural gas as well as renewable – which are
cleaner
f. I’m MW
Mary: And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension
program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.