Do EV’s really causing zero pollution? Are Electric vehicles environment-friendly? Many media reports have questioned the green quotient of the EV’s post the count of their electricity generation and their manufacturing. Let’s bust some of the myths and facts related to electric vehicles pollution.
Let’s start by considering the power source used to charge the electric car. If the power isn’t generated from solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear or hydroelectric sources, then there are burning fossil fuels involved in generating the power. So, even if there is no combustion from the car, there is pollution happening at the power plant.
Also, the initial environmental footprint of EV production is greater in comparison to combustion vehicle production. The batteries in EV’s are build of lithium- a raw material that needs to be mined. This mining process produces a large number of greenhouse gases. It takes an average of about 2-17 metric tons of CO2 to produce an EV, depending on the size of the battery needed by the vehicle.
Lithium comes from the mineral-rich brine from below the surface of the earth. This inversely affects decreased groundwater supply. This in turn affects water accessibility and agriculture in the surrounding areas. It takes about 750 tons of brine to produce just one ton of lithium. Well, that’s not the only concern, cobalt is another component used in the EV’s battery.
Now Cobalt mining has child laborers making it reprehensible. Also, recycling of these materials is a cause of concern as there are plenty of challenges. One of which is the volatility of lithium causing fires. This would be a large problem unless the manufacturing process becomes more efficient.
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Conversely, the average production for an internal combustion vehicle is around 7 metric tons of CO2. This number takes into account mining ore for steel to everything until the car rolls off the production line. The on-road greenhouse emissions from ICE vehicles average around 5.2 metric tons for about 12,000 miles per year.
With about 500 gallons of gasoline per year, each step involved in its extraction has an environmental impact that releases tons of greenhouse gases. Not only CO2 but also other gases like methane and nitrous oxide. The daily estimate production of barrels of oil and 95 million around the world, which makes 767 million tons of CO2 emission by refineries each day.
To look at the broader picture, an average ICE vehicle produces 57 metric tons of CO2 in a year. On the other hand, an EV produces about 28 metric tons of emissions in a year. That when calculated is about half of that is produced by the ICE vehicle. So it is safe, to sum up, that in spite of having a bigger environmental footprint during the production stage, the EV’s make up for it by having no emission when using them.
Hence, it’s safe to say that EV’s have less impact on the environment in the long run in comparison to gas powered vehicles.