The creation of electric cars (EV) has recently become the newest trend in the automotive business, with numerous well-respected and well-known automakers jumping right on board, including Tesla, Nissan, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, and many more. Even high-end manufacturers like Audi, Porsche, and BMW have embraced the trend and recently put electric vehicles on the market.
Electric motors, as opposed to petrol engines, power electric vehicles. A controller that manages the amount of power in response to the driver’s use of the accelerator pedal provides the electric motor with its energy. Rechargeable batteries power the electric vehicles. These batteries can also be used for additional tasks, such as powering the wipers and lights.
On the other hand, conventional automobiles use engines that run on either petrol or diesel fuel. But not all electric cars are created equal. The term “plug-in hybrid” refers to automobiles that have an electric motor in addition to a gasoline or diesel engine. While some electric vehicles run entirely on electricity and do not use any liquid fuels. These are so-called “battery-electric” cars. Electric motors are powered by the conversion of hydrogen gas into electricity in some EVs, namely “hydrogen fuel cell” vehicles.
EVs – An Asset for the Environment
Regarding how beneficial electric vehicles are for the environment and whether they truly assist the environment at the expense of their high costs, there is dispute within the automotive industry. Let’s now discuss a few of the most important advantages that electric automobiles have to offer.
Zero Tailpipe Emissions
The primary benefit of electric vehicles is that they produce no tailpipe pollution (direct emissions), which is why they are advantageous. Driving an electric vehicle produces significantly fewer emissions than driving a fuel or diesel vehicle.
Battery recycling has the potential to become more effective and reduce the need for the extraction of new materials, hence lowering the dependency on mining and the creation of new batteries, as EVs become more common and their manufacturing becomes more widely used.
Independent of the source from which the electricity is produced, EVs produce far less emissions over the course of their lifetime than vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
When we consider how the lower emissions prevent the neighbourhood and pedestrians from inhaling in harmful substances, this becomes incredibly useful. As a result, EVs are far more environmentally friendly than the conventional gasoline-powered automobiles that currently dominate the market.
Cleaner CO2 Emission
The local air quality is severely and directly impacted by tailpipe emissions. However, compared to the emissions from the greenest petrol engines, the CO2 emissions of electric vehicles are significantly cleaner. Fully electric vehicles release an average of 4,450 pounds of CO2 annually, compared to conventional automobiles’ roughly twice that amount. This is according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Even the most recent ICE automobiles release significant levels of particle pollution that is hazardous to human health. Asthma, heart attacks, cancer, as well as a host of other serious illnesses, can all be caused by the discharge of these particles. In the meantime, these particles are not being released into the air on the streets by the electric vehicles.
Reduces Noise Pollution
Compared to ICE automobiles and their exhaust systems, electric motors are often relatively quiet, which results in less noise pollution. Mufflers can be added to petrol and diesel automobiles to reduce noise, however they frequently make the vehicles noisier than they would be without them.
Over 77% of the electrical energy from the grid is converted by electric vehicles into power for the wheels. Conversely, conventional petrol vehicles only utilise 12% to 30% of the energy stored in petrol for powering the wheels. Therefore, compared to gas-powered engines, electric vehicles cause less energy loss.
Because there are fewer moving parts in electric cars, there is less energy conversion. Compared to gas-powered motors, this leads to reduced energy loss. Unlike ICE cars, which use friction brakes, electric cars use regenerative braking. As the automobile operates on a generator, which helps it recycle some wasted energy back into the battery instead of utilising a brake pad that transforms friction into heat, this enables the car to charge the battery while braking.
The nights are when wind generation dominates the energy mix because overall energy usage is lower during those hours. Therefore, charging during the night results in electric vehicles helping to consume better amounts of renewable energy. Additionally, it acts as a precaution for balancing the electrical system.
There are a number of obstacles that must be addressed for electric vehicles to contribute to the environment, which raises concerns about their future.
Wheel to Wheel Emission
Electric cars don’t have any direct exhaust emissions, but they still require a lot of energy to manufacture. Compared to a regular car, electric cars typically produce more emissions during production. This is mostly attributable to the production of lithium-ion batteries, which are an essential component of an electric vehicle.
More than a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the automobile itself, according to data gathered by an ICCT study. Lithium, cobalt, manganese, and nickel are examples of scarce resources used in the development of EV batteries. These materials must first be mined and processed before the battery can be made.
Because lithium mining involves large amounts of gear and is therefore carbon-intensive, the creation of these batteries has the potential to seriously harm the environment, for as by polluting Tibetan rivers close to the resource mines.
However, the quantity of emissions produced by an EV is significantly influenced by its location and the energy sources that are often utilised to generate electricity. For instance, the vehicle’s electricity is produced by natural gas if it is used and charged in California, but nuclear power facilities are used if it is used and charged in New Hampshire.
The Cobalt Crisis
Factories have been labouring to produce more and more batteries to be used in the creation of electric vehicles as demand for them grows, notably in the European region. However, the availability of a necessary component known as cobalt is necessary for their manufacturing.
This mineral, whose demand is continually rising, is used to make the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles. The global demand for cobalt is predicted to increase to between 235,000 and 430,000 tonnes by 2030, according to research done by Elsa Olivetti and her colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This amount is at least 1.6 times the world’s current capacity to refine the metal, according to data from 2016.
Any changes in the demand or price of copper or nickel, which are used to make cobalt, will have an effect. In addition, the component is pricey, running about $33,000 per tone. With its supply coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where mining has been linked to child labour and fatalities, the metal extraction also comes at a human cost.
Therefore, even while the supply of cobalt can be deemed enough in the medium term, the rate at which its demand is increasing will necessitate further mine exploration, and the demand for cobalt recycling will also increase due to its recovery from outdated electric vehicles, laptops, and mobile phones.
Lack of Noise
The absence of noise, which is one of the main advantages of electric vehicles, may also be one of their worst drawbacks.
Due to the safety dangers that electric vehicles provide to pedestrians due to their silent drivetrains, numerous advocacy groups for blind and vision-impaired people have called for increased regulation of them.
The noise-canceling feature, although being an obvious benefit for electric automobiles, also becomes one of their greatest obstacles.
Although there are many obstacles to overcome before electric vehicles can be widely used to help the environment, how helpful an asset they are will mostly rely on the type of vehicle and the source of the electricity.