At first glance, electric cars seem to be much better than conventional cars. They do not emit any environment damaging GreenHouse Gases (GHGs) and nitrogen oxide. It seems that if we want to be safe from respiratory problems and climate change, the electric cars are the best option. And governments, companies and people are turning more and more in favor of the electric car. But is the electric car as planet friendly as it is being claimed. What would happen if all cars became electric? Let’s find out the pros and cons of driving an electric car.
Pros and cons of electric cars
Pure E-Cars have zero emissions on road
The greatest advantage of pure electric cars is that they do not produce any emissions on road. If you drive an electric car, you would not be adding to the already stifling pollution. The world has already started to feel the repercussions of global warming, brought on by human actions to a large extent. To reduce global warming and climate change, all of us have to make an effort to be responsible for as few emissions as possible.
Even the plug-in Hybrid electric cars produce much less emissions than diesel or petrol cars. Air quality, especially in urban areas, can be improved by the use of electric cars. So electric cars important for the environment, which is one of the pros of its pros and cons.
Electric cars can help tackle climate change
Driving electric cars is one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions, which is a major contributor for the climate changing. If most of the world population would switch to electric cars, then we might be able to reach the goal of the Paris Agreement. The oceans are heating up, and this has led to mutations in marine ecosystem, and some species have even died out. The glaciers are melting, at an alarming rate, and, maybe using electric cars can help to keep the temperature of the Earth down. Another reason why electric cars are better.
Are electric cars truly green?
While it cannot be denied that electric cars do have a positive impact on the environment, we cannot ignore the entire process that goes into the manufacturing of e-cars. Electric cars run on electricity, mostly conventional electricity which is produced from fossil fuels. This again contributes to the pollution of the atmosphere, when you take into consideration the greenhouse gas emissions in the extraction and refining of fossil fuels. So should all cars be electric?
Some experts are in favor of cars running on electricity as one of the latest lifecycle analysis of EVs founds that even when they are powered by extremely carbon intensive electric power in Europe, they emit fewer greenhouse gases, and their carbon footprint is much lower than the conventional vehicles. Thus, electrics cars seem to have some pros and cons, but the pros might outweigh the cons. This study also included carbon output generated in the production of electric car’s battery.
In UK, an analysis by Drax showed that electric cars are better, as they are greener, even while using conventional electricity. This also reflected the long-term scenario, when extra demand would be met by building more power stations. For example, in 2012, charging a BMW i3 led to creation of 81g CO2 per km, but by summer 2017, this had reduced to 27 g/km for BMW i3, and 32 g/km for Nissan LEAF.
A 2014 JEC report also found that there are more pros while discussing the pros and cons of the question: should all cars be electric?
Electric cars can become greener
With the advance of technology, and greater demand for renewable sources of power, there has been a greater supply of green electricity. If most of the world starts developing their nuclear and renewable electricity generation capacity, and electric vehicles are powered by this green power, then the electric cars will be even cleaner.
Electric cars are better in terms of emissions and lower carbon footprint, but there is one aspect which we cannot forget while talking about the pros and cons – the batteries.
Impact of electric car’s batteries using ‘Rare Earths’ and Lithium?
Electric cars must have batteries to store the electricity, and the production of these batteries has made may people wonder – should all cars be electric? The batteries are quite complex too, and right now, it needs more energy to produce electric cars than conventional cars.
One of the main components of EV batteries is lithium, and there are conflicting reports and studies whether this metal will be enough for a huge number of electric car batteries. Some say that there are abundant deposits of lithium ore in already existing mines till the year 2050. But as the demand grows, supply will have to grow too, and we might see new mines set up. However, one saving grace is that lithium is recyclable, numerous times.
The IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute discovered that currently, 150-200 kilograms carbon dioxide is produced for every kWH of energy of electric car.
Additionally, electric vehicles’ batteries require rare earths such as neodymium. ‘Rare Earth’ mining in most of the countries such as Democratic Republic of Congo or China, has led to tremendous ecological devastation, due to deforestation, soil contamination and polluted waterways. Human rights violation is another concern.
Moreover, aluminum is used to manufacture the body of the cars, and to transform bauxite ore into the lightweight metal, a huge amount of energy is required.
Therefore, the production of batteries of electric cars is one of the cons of the pros and cons of electric cars.
The disposal of the batteries, filled with toxic materials, is also an issue. If they are dumped into landfills, which does happen often, then they will create a problematic environmental hazard. Scientists all over the world are working on solutions to find ways to recycle the batteries and reuse them, and also to increase their life span. Once they are successful, then maybe we could drive truly zero emission cars and release fewer GHGs into the atmosphere.
So are electric cars important for the planet right now, or will they too lead to problems in the future for humanity? Only time will tell.