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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Are Electric Cars Really Good For The Environment?


 Electric cars are the favor of the times and are often touted as the definitive solution to curbing pollution in the towns and cities of the world. But are electric cars really as gentle on the environment as they are made out to be? After all, as many would tell you, the electricity used to charge electric car batteries may not have come from a clean source at all!

As is usually the case, there is merit in both the arguments in favor of electric cars and those against them. Let's take a look at both the sides-

The Battery is the Problem!

Surprisingly, it's the battery, which is really the heart of an electric automobile that is a source of environmental pollution. That is on account of the fact that there are a number of rare earth metals that make up a car battery whose extraction as well as handling can lead to carbon emissions. However, there is evidence that by using the right kind of technology, one can cause considerably less environmental pollution in the manufacturing of electric automobile batteries. American and European manufacturing techniques for instance are known to cause as much as 60% less environmental pollution than Chinese ones.

In any case the pollution caused by the manufacturing of car batteries is the same or at worst just a little higher than that caused in the manufacturing of petrol or diesel engines for automobiles. 

It's the Lifetime Difference in Emissions that Makes the Difference

When it comes to emission during the lifetime of an automobile, an electrically powered one with its zero tail emissions is a clear winner over one that uses an internal combustion engine. That does seem to tip the scales in favor of electric cars, but there are other factors to consider before one arrives at a definitive answer about whether replacing fossil fuel-powered cars with electric ones will prove to be better for the environment or not. 

Judging by the way that governments around the world are actively promoting electric cars at the expense of the conventional internal combustion engine-based ones, it does seem that there is some kind of consensus about the former's environment-friendly credentials.  In fact, the International Energy Agency reckons that there will be more than 300 million electric vehicles worldwide at the end of 2040. 

At the same time, it has to be understood that the electricity used to charge the batteries of these large numbers of electric vehicles will have to be generated with the help of clean non-fossil fuel for there to be any real environmental gains. All the same, it is important to note that the process of creating electric cars is quite polluting in itself and needs to be improved as we go along. It is expected that increasingly efficient technologies will make it possible to substantially reduce the pollution caused by the manufacturing of electric car batteries. Advances in technology that enables efficient reusing and recycling of batteries will also contribute towards reducing the overall pollution caused by the manufacturing of car batteries.

All things being considered, even after taking into account the negative environmental fallout of generating the electricity required to power electric cars, they create considerably less carbon emission than petrol or diesel-run cars do. According to research carried out by the European Energy Agency , this difference in the level of carbon emission is as high as 17 to 30%.

To the question, whether electric cars are really good for the environment, the answer is a qualified yes. With the expected advances in technology leading to more and more reduction in the carbon footprint of electric cars, the chorus of support in their mass adoption is only expected to grow. 

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