Are electric cars as green as we think?

Because of the lowering of the supplies of gasoline and the ongoing problem with the rise of an amount of a carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also an automotive industry was forced to start searching for an alternative fuel for their cars. Among these electricity seems as a solution for many of them including Toyota, Nissan, as one of the leaders in this field. There are many discussions and articles written about this topic where we can find many arguments that are in favor but also many that are absolutely against electricity as ideal alternative. So we decided to look up on it and  according to the presented facts form our own opinion.

Electric car plugged in

It can sound a bit surprising why we are talking about the air pollution in the case of electric cars as they are not releasing the CO2 to the atmosphere. But this is not true for 100%. Because when we are talking about the pollution we have to consider also the manufacturing process and the production of the fuel. What is in the case of electric cars the decisive factor.

Manufacturing of these cars make almost double the impact on global warming as conventional cars. This is mostly because of the raw materials and energy needed to build the lithium-ion batteries. If we want to see in numbers it was calculated in one study (Shades of Green: Electric Cars’ Carbon Emissions <http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/electric-cars-green#qkOAaKrvcg5grEFi.99>) published last year where they counted that the manufacturing of a gasoline car is releasing 40g CO2e/km compared to 70g CO2e/km for the electric vehicle. So there is a small disadvantage at the early begging but the real problem is closely connected with the energetic mix which country is using.

Compares the carbon emissions of grid powered electric cars in twenty of the worlds leading countires

So if we look to the graph above we can see that not in every country electric cars can be really considered as non harmful to the environment just because of coal power plants which are producing high amount of CO2. On the other side of that chart we can see Paraguay which is the ideal country for using of the electric cars as their main sources of electricity are coming from water and other renewable sources. Other great example of an importance of power mix is the earlier mentioned study where they say that if your energy is mostly coming from coal the car is producing more that tree times bigger amount of CO2 as a car with combustible engine. But if the majority of energy is coming from natural gas situation is changing dramatically as now it will be producing only half of the emissions and if the source will be a home solar power plant it will be only 25% of the emissions produces by the regular combustible engine. So what shall we do??

We are fully aware that for most of the countries coal power plants are the only option as they are the cheapest way how to produce electricity. But it’s high time to turn the world´s focus on this topic as well to make sure that this will also be part of new agenda that states are now discussing. It is because states have to agree on lowering the percentage of coal power plants to better protect the environment. But the only way hoe to do so is to put lot more money to investigation on how to make power plants producing electricity from renewable sources of energy as effective as the coal ones are and also on how to make it cheaper so more states can offer it. Because without changing of the energy mix of the country also buying an electric car is not helping at all. The second problem to be solved is a efficiency and the capacity of the lithium-ion batteries so the drivers can use these cars also for larger distances without a need to pause every 100 km to recharge them as it is now.

Thank you for reading

Marek Rybár

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One thought on “Are electric cars as green as we think?

  1. Very interesting article, it really made me think about it again, the whole idea of carbon footprint and I agree with author that it must be discussed as a priority topic in agendas not only in terms of automotive industry but even more, if we realise that all food, electronics..whatever imported to our country have a huge CO2 footprint because of the transportation on the long distance…Should we be more local today? 🙂
    Tomas Kolencik

    Like

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