EV revolution is not as green as we think it is
The Dirt on Clean Electric Cars
I dream of a world, where words such as Super-rich is used primarily in romantic novels, where the four horsemen of the apocalypse have been thrown out, and are only mentioned in dusty pages of history books. It is a good dream, but the reality is far from this and the four horsemen still have a firm grip on our blue/green globe suspended majestically in space.
We live in a world, where the industrialisation boom has a firm grip and the supply/demand chain dictates our daily lives. So, It is also fair to say that our little planet is losing its shine and the brown stains underneath are starting to show.
The EV revolution was a dream, that took hold quite quickly, it gave us an excuse to do what little we could, to save our planet and preserve as much of it for the future generations.
Nowadays, every major carmaker has plans to produce a range of electric vehicles, designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, yet their manufacturers in the majority of cases are making lithium-ion batteries in places with some of the most polluting grids in the world.
By 2021, capacity will exist to build batteries for more than 10 million cars running on 60-kilowatt-hour packs. Most of these supplies will come from places like China, Thailand, Germany and Poland that rely on non-renewable sources like coal for electricity.
Not So Green?
A recent study shows that while electric cars are emission-free on the road, they still discharge a lot of the carbon-dioxide that conventional cars do. How?
An electric Sports car, can house enough batteries weighing close to 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds). A battery of this size would emit up to 74 per cent more C02 than producing a conventional car if it’s made in a factory which is powered by fossil fuels.
In a recent interview, Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer and chairman of Fisker Inc., a California-based developer of electric vehicles said, “It will come down to where is the battery made, how is it made, and even where do we get our electric power from.”
With such heavy batteries, an electric car’s carbon footprint can grow quite large even beyond the showroom, depending on how it’s charged. “It’s not a great change to move from diesel to German coal power,” said NorthVolt AB CEO Peter Carlsson, a former Tesla manager who is trying to build a 4-billion-euro ($4.6 billion) battery plant in Sweden that would run on hydropower. “Electric cars will be better in every way, but of course, when batteries are made in a coal-based electricity system it will take longer to surpass diesel engines."
There is a clear benefit driving cars powered by batteries, their quiet motors will reduce noise pollution and curb toxins like nitrogen oxide, NOX, hazardous to air quality and human health. “In downtown Oslo, Stockholm, Beijing or Paris, the most immediate consideration is to improve air quality and the quality of life for the people who live there,” said Christoph Stuermer, the global lead analyst for PricewaterhouseCoopers Autofacts.
So electric cars aren’t as clean as they could be, however they could be. Studies have shown, Just switching to renewable energy for manufacturing could decrease emissions by up to 65 per cent.
As it is now, manufacturing an electric car pumps out “significantly” more climate-warming gases than a conventional car, which releases only 20 per cent of its lifetime C02 at this stage, according to estimates of Mercedes-Benz’s electric-drive system integration department.
“Life-cycle emissions in electric vehicles depend on how much the car is driven in order to get to a point of crossover on diesel,” Ola Kallenius, the Daimler AG board member who will take over as CEO next year, said at the Paris Motor Show this month. “By 2030, the life cycle issue will improve.”
We still lack, a clear guideline from regulatory bodies around acceptable carbon emission levels over the life cycle of electric cars, even though countries such as the China, France and even the U.K. are moving toward outright bans of combustion engines.
So next time you start taking the moral high ground and looking down your nose to those of us still driving petrol or diesel cars, you might want to look at your car and find out where it was built. It might just might, not be as green as you think.