Major flaw in arguing that electric vehicles are worse for the environment, Electric Vehicle News Bitesize
Major flaw in arguing that electric vehicles are worse for the environment, Electric Vehicle News Bitesize

Major flaw in arguing that electric vehicles are worse for the environment. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!

Determining how harmful a vehicle is to the environment is more complicated than many people think.

Have you considered the oil exploration required to fuel your car? Or mining the elements in the battery?

Most of the debate on the issue centred around the energy needed to make batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

When making batteries, they have to cure them for a period of time, which requires gas or electricity to heat them. That’s why there are emissions.

Major flaw number one is that although it is often argued that this means EVs are worse for the environment, these arguments are based on inaccurate comparisons.

Compared to the 1 liter diesel made in France now, they have taken the biggest battery you can make – made in China many years ago.

Major flaw number two. This approach does not take into account the “second life” that EV batteries can serve as electricity storage after the car is used, and only focuses on the carbon intensity of electricity generation in certain parts of the world.

A 2020 study published in the journal Nature based on real-world power grids found that in 95% of the world, driving an electric car is better for the climate than driving a gasoline car.

The study found that in countries such as Sweden, where energy comes from renewables and nuclear power, electric cars have average “lifetime” emissions about 70 percent lower than petrol cars, and about 30 percent lower in the UK.

The only exception is in places like Virginia, where all the energy used to power cars comes from coal.

To take a concrete example, producing a large 75-kilowatt-hour battery at Tesla’s Nevada plant would produce about 4,500 kilograms of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of driving a gasoline sedan for 1.4 years.

Producing the same battery in carbon-fueled Asia would produce 7,500 kilograms of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of 2.4 years for a gasoline-powered sedan.

Manufacturers are already taking steps to ensure batteries are made using the cleanest energy possible, and factories in the UK have been connected to the Norwegian Grid via a North Sea Interconnector to reduce the carbon footprint of batteries by using renewable energy.

Major flaw with EVs on the horizon is a simple and familiar one, and that’s because people are buying cars that are far more powerful than they actually need. Large batteries have a far more serious impact on the environment.

Many cars will never make it past the supermarket, but people now want 90 kilowatt-hour (kWh) batteries. The carbon footprint of the 90 kWh battery is much higher than the old 30 kWh battery.

Choosing a car with a large battery also limits the number of electric cars that can be produced in this country, Europe and the world, no matter how many charging points are available.

Major flaw is in this country, we are obsessed with putting charging points underground, and the logic is that the more charging points we put, the more cards we make and hit the road. But the number of batteries determines the number of cars.

In 2013, Nissan was able to produce 50,000 Leafs a year, and hasn’t ramped up production for eight years — because the first battery factory they built could only produce 50,000 packs.

With the battery capacity we currently have in Europe, the bigger the battery we make, the less car we get.

Electric vehicles in Europe — where sales are growing fastest globally — in Poland and Kosovo are actually generating more carbon emissions because the grid is so reliant on coal, according to new data compiled by research consultancy Radiant Energy Group (REG).

Elsewhere in Europe, things are better, although relative carbon savings depend on how the grid is powered and how long the vehicle is charged during the day.

According to the REG study, the top performers were Switzerland with nuclear and hydroelectric power, which reduced carbon emissions by 100% compared to gasoline cars, Norway with 98%, France with 96%, Sweden with 95% and Austria with 93%.

The laggards are Cyprus at 4%, Serbia at 15%, Estonia at 35% and the Netherlands at 37%. The data also showed that electric car drivers in Germany, Europe’s largest automaker, rely on a mix of renewable energy and coal, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent.

In countries such as Germany or Spain that have invested heavily in solar and wind energy, the lack of renewable energy storage means that the amount of carbon saved by driving an electric car depends largely on the time of day you charge it.

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Major flaw in arguing that electric vehicles are worse for the environment, Electric Vehicle News Bitesize
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