21 July 2020

Are electric cars actually better for the environment?

Ever since the first modern electric vehicle was released onto the road in the early 2000s, there have been plenty of concerns and critiques whether these newly invented automotive vehicles are good for the environment. Questions are still asked regarding their manufacturing process, battery production and power sources, and the general anatomy.

This has prompted many speculations around this great innovation. Some people argue that electric cars are worse for the environment than the much more common combustion engine. So, we decided to find out once and for all, are electric cars better for the environment? What we found out is genuinely surprising.

How do Electric Cars Affect the environment?

Below are the main areas of concerns debated by researchers about EVs.

Battery Production Concerns
A considerable amount of energy is needed for the creation of batteries for electric cars. This involves the mining and processing of cobalt, manganese, and lithium, which are deemed as primary raw materials. It has been noticed that it takes over twice the amount of energy to manufacture an electric battery compared to conventional ones. The CO2 emissions from a standard battery for an electric car are between 73 to 98 grams. Plus, the plants where these batteries are manufactured tend to pose a threat to the environment because of mixing different chemicals and metals, emitting harmful gasses. There are also concerns regarding the recycling process of these batteries. However this point is often highlighted without a direct comparison to the CO2 emissions created to provide the supply of materials required to build a combustion engine car and provide the fuel for it to run.

Electricity source
Many electric car manufacturers rely on coal power plants accounting for high emissions of pollutants to the environment. Using coal as a power source makes the process quite detrimental, unlike using electrical sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. As the use of clean sources of electricity increases, electric cars’ sustainability will become much better. Car manufacturer’s such as Tesla are already implementing the use of solar and other renewable energy sources at their Gigafactories.

The benefits of using an electric car

Less Pollution
Even though electric cars currently produce more CO2 during their production, they make up for this by not having any emissions during their usage. The emissions created from the manufacturing process of EVs is approximately two-metric tons yearly.
The estimated amount of air pollution is equivalent to driving an electric car for two years, which will help the ecosystem recover from previous damage. Some studies project that by the year 2050, nearly all typical vehicles on the highways could go electric. They are thereby dropping global CO2 emissions by approximately 1.5 giga-tons yearly.

Furthermore, electric cars have electric engines that run efficiently and quietly without releasing exhaust emissions or producing noise pollution.

Renewable Sources of Energy
Cleaner sources of electricity, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, have been proven to work better in ensuring zero CO2 emissions. As such, different green charging stations have been devised and installed at several accessible charging stations. Additionally, others can be easily installed at homes and garages to ensure a cleaner electric power source for your electric car. For example, you can recharge your electric vehicle using your solar panel system during the day when using an EV charger system such as the myenergi Zappi.

Lithium Battery Advancements
Researchers are coming up with lithium battery advancements driven to reduce the emissions originating from the production of electric cars. The improvements involve looking for afterlife applications of batteries and extending the life of battery cells and lithium ions. By doing so, lithium batteries will become more efficient, durable, and sustainable. Thus, implying that they will last longer and eliminate the use of fossil fuels and other harmful mining activities.

Additionally, various prominent researchers have noted that methane-powered gasoline engines or hydrogen motors could help cut down the CO2 emissions by a third and, in the long run, eliminate the use of diesel cars.

Green Body Construction
Overall, electric cars feature the use of sustainable materials, which provides one way of reducing environmental pollution. Also, the padding consists of biologically based resources. Some models like Nissan have their entire body developed with green materials like recycled plastic bags, water bottles, second-hand piece of equipment, and even old car parts.

Electric cars are cheap to run and maintain
In terms of cost, electric cars have proved to be affordable. From the purchase, the fuel cost, and tax cost, drivers of the electric vehicle get a subsidy of up to 5 % as compared to drivers who use petrol and diesel. Electric cars offer the most significant savings when it comes to their maintenance. Tesla has released an energy plan in partnership with Octopus energy, offering eligible customers the option to recharge their cars for cheaper and also to make back money from Solar PV whilst doing so. Over time, electric vehicles end up costing less as they have very few moving parts that may require spares or servicing and cost much less to fill.

The future of electric cars

Renewable sources of electricity tend to have some irregular patterns with which sometimes they can’t be entirely relied on. As for lithium batteries, their costs are quite expensive, and they are susceptible to fires, however no more so than a vehicle using petrol or diesel fuel. Considering these allegations, EVs are witnessing an upward trend in the adoption of green charging and several technological advancements towards battery technology, such as the zero-emission fuel-cell tech. Therefore, the future of EVs assures the use of renewable and eco-friendly materials.

How do Hybrid Cars affect the environment?

A hybrid car is yet another advancement in the transport industry meant to reduce harmful emissions. These units have a combination of electric vehicles and fossil fuel powered motors. But still, a very minimal effect is poised to the environment. The big question here is, how do hybrid cars affect the environment?

Since they incorporate fossil fuel and electric powered motors, hybrid cars still release CO2 but burn less fuel for longer journeys, meaning they emit far fewer harmful gasses in the long run. Hybrid cars are extremely valuable in assisting with the transition to full electric as they allow the population to prepare their home and work environments for the future of travel, where we refill with cars with electricity rather than petrol or diesel.

Conclusion

Are electric cars better for the environment? According to the above discussion and other research, electric vehicles are exclusively clean for the environment. The fact here is that they emit very unnoticeable amounts of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses in their entire lifetime when compared to a regular combustion engine vehicle. When looking at the facts, it is clear that we can confidently purchase electric vehicles safe in the knowledge that we are ultimately contributing to a cleaner environment and cheaper travel.