The biggest appeal of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is that they make the environment super clean. Well, this is a myth! People consider EVs to be a greener alternative to traditional gasoline-powered cars. However, the reality is that EVs are not as green as you think.
The most important part of electric vehicles is the battery. The primary component of an EV battery is lithium. Lithium is a light, highly reactive metal that can be easily ionized, making it an ideal material for batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in EVs because they have a high energy density. It means they can store a lot of energy in a small space. Additionally, EV batteries also contain other elements like cobalt, nickel, manganese, and aluminum.
However, the most shocking thing is that the production of batteries for EVs is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Now you might ask – exactly how polluting is it? Out of the total emissions, an EV generates in its lifetime, 50% goes into producing the battery.
A study was developed on the transparent life cycle inventory of conventional EVs applied to assess the environmental impact of both types of vehicles across a range of categories. The study found that EVs powered by the current European electricity mix have the potential to decrease global warming potential by 10-24%, compared to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles, assuming a lifetime of 150,000 km.
The results of the study are sensitive to assumptions about the source of electricity, energy consumption during use, vehicle lifetime, and battery replacement schedules. The study also found that production impacts are more significant for EVs than for conventional vehicles.
Therefore, assuming a vehicle lifetime of 200,000 km exaggerates the benefits of EVs to 27-29%, compared to gasoline vehicles and 17-20% compared to diesel. If the vehicle lifetime is assumed to be 100,000 km, the benefits of EVs decrease to 9-14% with respect to gasoline vehicles and result in impacts that are indistinguishable from those of a diesel vehicle.
In conclusion, while EVs have the potential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to consider the environmental impact of their production. Engaging in efforts to reduce the impact of the vehicle production supply chain and encouraging clean electricity sources in decisions regarding electrical infrastructure are necessary to improve the environmental profile of EVs.