A new study warns that “a massive expansion of impervious surfaces” is an inevitable consequence of having electric vehicles reach a 40% share of citizens’ driving needs. A land area the size of Croatia (in the European Union) or West Virginia (in the United States) must be completely covered with wind turbines to meet EV-charging energy demands for 4 of every 10 vehicles.
The already-weak power capacity of wind turbines, 0.5 We m² on average, will only continue to diminish as more wind farms are added to the landscape (Miller and Keith, 2018).
Consequently, the land area that must be devoted to the erection of wind turbines to meet the ever-growing energy needs of Earth’s citizens is harrowing.
Consider the US. Electricity generation only accounts for 17% of the US’s primary energy consumption. For wind energy to supply all the electricity needs for US citizens, a land area the size of California – 12 percent of the contiguous US – must be cleared to make way for wind farms (Miller and Keith, 2018). Again, that’s to meet just 1/6th of Americans’ energy needs.
Image Source: Miller and Keith, 2018
In Scotland, 14 million CO2-absorbing trees were recently chopped down to make way for wind farms. This way the Scottish government can ironically claim they’re doing their part to reduce CO2 emissions.
And now a new study documents how much more land must be converted to impervious surface so that new wind farms can supply the electricity to charge an exponentially-growing number of EVs in the coming decades.
“In order to run 40% of their vehicles with electricity, the EU should devote over 5000 km² of land (twice the size of Luxembourg) to photovoltaic panels or almost 56,000 km² (about the size of Croatia) to wind turbines, whereas the US should devote over 6000 km² (roughly the size of Delaware) to solar or almost 70,000 km² (more than the area of West Virginia) to wind.”
Image Source: Orsi, 2021
Put another way, an average EU or US city will need to expand its urbanized area by 0.2 to 4 km² due to dramatically rising number of EVs using low-density wind and solar energy to supply electricity.
And this is green?