Is An Electric Car A Cleaner Car
An article published by the Ifo Institute in Germany compares the carbon footprint of a battery-electric car to that of a diesel car, and argues a hig
- Publishing date
The recent study on carbon intensity of electric vehicles by Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn gained much attention in the German press and beyond.
Buchal and co-authors make four points. First, they model the carbon emissions per kilometre for an electric car and a diesel car . To reflect all relevant CO2 emissions, the authors include the carbon emissions generated by the production of the EVs battery and the production of the electricity needed to charge the EV. To calculate the carbon intensity of the electricity with which the EV is charged, the authors take the case of the German electricity mix in 2018, where 52% of electric power was produced from fossil fuels resulting in 550 grams of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour of electricity. In total, the authors calculations yield higher carbon emissions per kilometre travelled in the Tesla compared to the Mercedes. Therefore, the authors argue that a replacement of diesel cars with EVs in Germany is not going to help in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Reactions to the Ifo article were manifold and mostly very sceptical. Many authors criticised the method with which the authors compare electric and diesel cars and reject the authors conclusion that electric cars have a larger carbon footprint than petrol-fuelled cars.
Electric Car Use Improves Air Quality In Cities
Graff Zivin, along with economics researchers Matthew Kotchen and Erin Mansur, waded into this contentious territory in a 2014 paper. Zivin concluded that a plug-in electric vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf, always produces less carbon dioxide emissions than a hybrid electric- and gas-powered car but only in selected regions that rely on less coal, like the western United States and Texas. Charging from the coal-dependent grid in the upper midwest of the US at night could generate more emissions than an average gasoline car. And, in some US regions, plugging in at different times of day could even double an electric cars emissions impact.
Charging an electric car for 100 miles of travel could use about 30kwh roughly the same amount of energy an average US home uses in just over a day.
Since we wrote this paper we have seen more and more coal going out , Zivin says. Natural gas-fired power plants emit less greenhouse gas per unit of energy produced than coal-fired power stations. As more coal plants are mothballed partly in response to cheaper natural gas prices so the electricity powering electric cars emits less carbon dioxide. But the counter to that is that because of Obamas Cafe standards, we now have much cleaner gasoline cars.
Looking At Emissions Just In Norway
Experts have differing opinions on how CO2 emissions from electric cars in Norway should be calculated.
The experiences from Japan arent particularly relevant for Norway, Lasse Fridstrøm wrote in an email to sciencenorway.no. Fridstrøm is a researcher at the Institute of Transport Economics.
Fridstrøm believes that we should calculate Norways CO2 emissions based only on emissions actually produced in Norway, and not those that are emitted abroad.
Since the lifespan of cars is only 13 years in Japan, and since Japan produces many more cars than they use themselves, hes not surprised that driving cars longer before scrapping them can be good for the climate in Japan.
But it means little or nothing for emissions in Norway, he says.
In Norway, emissions from car production are zero.
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Recycling And Decarbonizing The Grid
Experts said that can change over time as raw materials needed for battery production are in limited supply, leaving firms with no choice but to recycle.
McKinsey’s Hannon outlined other reasons for companies to step by their recycling efforts. They include a regulatory environment where producers, by law, would have to deal with spent batteries and disposing them could be more expensive.
“People who point to a lack of a recycling infrastructure as a problem aren’t recognizing that we don’t need extensive recycling infrastructure yet because the cars are so new, we’re not needing many back,” he said.
Most auto companies are already working to ensure they have significant recycling capacity in place before EVs start reaching the end of life over the next decade, he added.
It’s not silver bullet for climate change mitigation. Ideally, you also try to reduce the number of cars massively, and try to push things such as public transportFlorian KnoblochCambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance
Knobloch from Cambridge University said a lot of research is going into improving battery technology, to make them more environmentally sustainable and less reliant on scarce raw materials. More efforts are also needed in , he added.
“It’s very important that more renewable electricity generation capacity is added to the grid each year, than coal generation capacity,” Knobloch said.
Ev Vs Gasoline: Lifetime Co2 Footprint Keeps Getting Better With Renewable Energy Mix
On the way to selling only fully electric models by 2030, Volvo is taking its ambitious plan to cut the life-cycle carbon footprint of its vehicles very seriously. Compared to 2018 levels, Volvo plans to cut its carbon footprint by 40% by 2025.
In it, Volvo makes a point on the progress of EVs: The C40 squeaks by, with about a 5% lower carbon footprint versus a comparable XC40 gasoline crossover, with the difference mainly because of the better aerodynamic properties of the C40 Recharge.
2022 Volvo C40 Recharge
But thats with the current electricity mix in Europe. As weve underscored various times, electric vehicles are as clean as the energy used to charge them, and recent data suggests that energy will keep getting cleaner. With a continued large-scale shift toward renewable electricity, the use phase emissions would essentially drop out of the footprint tally.
The European results are also a bit skewed, as they include some countries, like Greece, Poland, and Estonia, that emit a lot more from their power-generation mix due to coal and/or petroleum use.
Union of Concerned Scientists gasoline MPG equivalent for EVs, 2021
Considering the ongoing shift to cleaner power, as the UCS has pointed out, the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup should produce emissions equivalent to an 85-mpg gasoline car.
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Electric Cars And Uk’s Net Zero Target
According to the Mayor of London, road transport accounts for around half of the capital’s air pollution. Its no wonder that the UK government and local councils want to accelerate the number of electric cars on the roads. The UK government has set a target that the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040. The government is also looking to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050, and electric cars will play a big role in that.
What’s more, EVs can also help with noise pollution, especially in cities where speeds are generally low. As electric cars are far quieter than conventional vehicles, driving electric creates a more peaceful environment for us all.
Reduced Collisions With Active Safety And Autopilot Active
Safety is our primary design goal. Every aspect of our vehicles engineeringfrom the positioning of the battery to the suite of active and passive safety featuresis based off a safety-first architecture. And when active safety features are engaged, Tesla vehicles have a ~4.5x lower collision rate than other vehicles. Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged experienced just 0.2 accidents per million miles driven while the U.S. average was ~9x higher at 2.0 accidents per million miles driven.
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Emissions From Electric Vehicles
All-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles , and hybrid electric vehicles typically produce lower tailpipe emissions than conventional vehicles do. When measuring well-to-wheel emissions, the electricity source is important: for all-electric vehicles and PHEVs, part or all of the power provided by the battery comes from off-board sources of electricity. There are emissions associated with the majority of electricity production in the United States.
Tesla: Why Evs Are Cheaper And So Much Cleaner Than Petrol Cars
Elecrtric vehicle and storage giant Tesla has once again outlined the competitiveness of its EVs against petrol cars both on price and emissions and declared that its global fleet of vehicles, energy storage systems, and solar panels avoided 8.4 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent last year.
Electric vehicles had by far the largest positive environmental impact, according to Teslas 2021 Impact Report, which outlines all the ways in which its operations impact not only the companys bottom line, but also the larger environmental impacts.
The emissions saved in calendar 2021 includes 6.8 million metric tonnes of vehicle CO2e savings, which are estimated based on the net CO2-e savings during the use-phase of a Tesla vehicle compared to an internal combustion engine vehicle with a real-world fuel economy of -24mpg.
Of these 6.8 million metric tonnes, 0.9 million metric tonnes were avoided through annual renewables matching for the global Supercharger network and home charging in California.
The remaining 1.6 million metric tonnes were avoided thanks to Teslas solar and storage CO2e savings, which are estimated based on CO2e avoided through generation of zero-emission electricity from the companys solar panels, as well as energy stored and later dispatched from its energy storage projects.
Tesla also revealed that, between 2012 and 2021, the energy produced by Tesla solar panels around the world reached a cumulative total of 25.38TWh.
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Large Differences In Battery Emissions
Both the ifo study and the ICCT analysis rely on the same estimate of emissions from battery manufacturing: a 2017 study by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute . IVL examined studies published between 2010 and 2016, and concluded that battery manufacturing emissions are likely between 150 and 200 kg CO2-equivalent per kWh of battery capacity.
The majority of studies examined by IVL looked at battery production in Asia, rather than in the US or Europe. The IVL study also noted that battery technology was evolving rapidly and that there is great potential for reduction in manufacturing emissions.
The IVL study came under considerable criticism, and in late 2019 received a substantial revision. The IVL researchers now estimate that battery manufacturing emissions are actually between 61 and 106 kg CO2-equivalent per kWh, with an upper bound of 146 kg. The low end estimate of 61 kg is for cases when the energy used from battery manufacturing comes from zero-carbon sources. IVL suggests that this revision was driven by new data for cell production, including more realistic measurements of energy use for commercial-scale battery factories that have substantially expanded in scale and output in recent years.
As the IVL study notes:
Manufacturing stands for a large part of the production impactThis implies that production location and/or electricity mix has great potential to impact the results.
Carbon Footprint Of Electric Cars Vs Gasoline
Carbon Offsets Credits | April 14, 2022
Many people wonder about the carbon footprint of electric cars vs gasoline, whether or not the green claims are all theyre cracked up to be.
The unfortunate truth is that many people assume that electric vehicles either do not have a carbon footprint or that their carbon footprint is so significantly reduced from that of a gasoline vehicle as to be inconsequential.
However, the truth that no one likes to admit is that production, shipment, and charging for a new electric vehicle still produces a large amount of carbon emissions, while a used vehicle is likely the lowest cost emissions option because of the eco-cost of manufacturing.
Purchasing an electric vehicle may still be a good option for you, but knowing the facts about what it will really cost the environment will allow you to make the best decision for your eco-conscious lifestyle.
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The Most Efficient Evs Ever
Tesla cars can convert electricity into power more efficiently than other equivalent EVs. And as we continue to develop our technology, our vehicles efficiency will improve further as well. Our Model 3 Standard Range Plus is the most energy-efficient vehicle on the market and is an example of how significant such improvements can be.
Engineering Explained Tries To Answer That In His Latest Video
After all we have covered regarding emissions and EV fallacies that people still choose to believe, comparing a car with a combustion engine to one powered solely by batteries can look like a contradiction. Yet, when it comes from Engineering Explained, it is worth taking a look. He compared the emissions in a Tesla Model Y to those from a Toyota RAV4 Prime.
If you are asking which emissions could be involved with an electric car, we have already named them a few times. Making the battery pack generates quite some CO2, as well as manufacturing the car itself and charging from grids that need fossil fuels to produce electric energy.
That also affects combustion-engined cars. Fenske was careful enough to find the well-to-wheels carbon dioxide emissions for gasoline cars, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Each gallon of gas burned by an engine generates 10.7 kg of CO2. A gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds .
Anyway, there seems to be something wrong with that number. If you burn one gallon of gasoline, the 5.5 lb of carbon combine with oxygen and increase their weight by 3.7 times, according to EPA.
That makes a gallon of gasoline convert into 20.35 lb of CO2. It is improbable that extracting oil, transporting it, refining it, and transporting gasoline add just 1.47 kg to the emissions. Well ask some of our sources for a more precise number.
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Electric Vehicles Not A Panacea Without Decarbonisation
In both the US and Europe, EVs represent a substantial reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to the average conventional vehicle. This has been a consistent finding across the overwhelming majority of studies examined by Carbon Brief.
However, Michalek cautions that:
EVs are not currently a panacea for climate changelifecycle GHG emissions from electric vehicles can be similar to or even greater than the most efficient gasoline or diesel vehicles .
As electricity generation becomes less carbon intensive particularly at the margin electric vehicles will become preferable to all conventional vehicles in virtually all cases. There are fundamental limitations on how efficient petrol and diesel vehicles can become, whereas low-carbon electricity and increased battery manufacturing efficiency can cut much of the manufacturing emissions and nearly all electricity use emissions from EVs.
A transition from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs plays a large role in mitigation pathways that limit warming to meet Paris Agreement targets. However, it depends on rapid decarbonisation of electricity generation to be effective. If countries do not replace coal and, to a lesser extent, gas, then electric vehicles will still remain far from being zero emissions.
Grouping Of Today’s Electric Vehicles
In the following table, I collected the list of BEVs that were on sale in 2018 in the US, and added their various data, like power output, acceleration, battery size, energy consumption and price.
Categorization is very important, so we can ensure an apple to apple comparison. The categories may seem somewhat vague or even arbitrary, but given the limited number of EV offering, they seem to fall naturally into these three groups.
A) Smaller, more economical, often âcity-friendlyâ cars. These are mostly the smaller first-generation EVs, often compliance cars. They typically have a battery size of 20-40 kWh, a power output of 100 kW 7-10 sec 0-to-60 time, and a range of 80 to 150 miles. Average energy consumption is 29.4 kWh per 100 miles. I found 10 of them on the InsideEV list for 2018. They are usually comparable with economy gas cars in the 29-50 MPG range, like the Ford Focus , Honda Civic , Toyota Camry/Prius, VW Golf , Hyundai Elantra , Chevy Cruze , etc.
B) Premium or performance sedans. These are typically large-size batteries , with a larger power output , 4-6 sec acceleration, and naturally longer range . I could only locate Tesla vehicles in this category , although Porsche Taycan and Volvo Polestar 2 will land in this group once they arrive. Comparable gas cars include the BMW 3/5-series , Audi A4/6 , Mercedes C/E-series , Maserati Ghibli , Porsche Panamera, etc., consumptions are in the 21-26 MPG range. These are seriously fun cars to drive.
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Is It Getting Hot In Here
Clearly then, EVs and plug-in hybrids have environmental costs. What effects however, do lithium-ion batteries have on John Q. Polar Bear? Well, a recent study from Norway looked at the global-warming potential of the complete lifecycle of EVs, from mining to recycling. Previous studies hadnt accounted for the energy-intensive process of building EVs, and missed the point: Theyre not that much better than gasoline cars.
The best outcome for EVs was a 24-percent improvement in global-warming potential over the average gas powered car, and between 10 percent and 14 percent over diesel. These numbers are nothing to sneeze at, but they change radically depending on the source of electricity that EVs are powered on.
EVs that depend on coal for their electricity are actually 17 percent to 27 percent worse than diesel or gas engines.
The global warming potential for EVs that rely on natural gas generally considered to be the cleanest fossil fuel show an improvement of only 12 percent over gasoline, and break even with diesel.
With cars that supposedly generate zero tailpipe emissions, how are these pollution numbers even possible? The simple answer is that as well as being messy to produce battery production requires a tremendous amount of electricity. The initial production of the vehicle and the batteries together make up something like 40 percent of the total carbon footprint of an EV nearly double that of an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle.