How green is an electric car?

Electric cars are better for the environment than those which use fossil fuels, aren’t they?

Not necessarily.

Electric vehicles in Germany account for more CO2 emissions than diesel ones, according to a study by German scientists.

When CO2 emissions linked to the production of batteries and the German energy mix – in which coal still plays an important role – are taken into consideration, electric vehicles emit 11% to 28% more than their diesel counterparts, according to the study, presented on Wednesday at the Ifo Institute in Munich.

Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt and manganese used for batteries consume a great deal of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 tonnes of CO2. Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.

The CO2 given off to produce the electricity that powers such vehicles also needs to be factored in, they say.

Almost all New Zealand’s electricity comes from hydro generation which would would give electric cars here  a green edge compared with those in Germany, but the mining and processing of materials used in batteries wouldn’t be any better.

When all these factors are considered, each Tesla emits 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is more than a comparable diesel vehicle produced by the German company Mercedes, for example.

The German researchers therefore take issue with the fact that European officials view electric vehicles as zero-emission ones. They note further that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per km by 2030 corresponds to a “technically unrealistic” consumption of 2.2 litres of diesel or 2.6 litres of gas per 100 kms.

These new limits pressure German and other European car manufacturers into switching massively to electric vehicles whereas, the researchers feel, it would have been preferable to opt for methane engines, “whose emissions are one-third less than those of diesel motors.”

Those wondering why many people aren’t taking climate change seriously would find the answer in this and many other examples when politics and bureaucracy rule over science.

8 Responses to How green is an electric car?

  1. Andrei says:

    If everyone in New Zealand used an electric car where would the extra electricity required come from?

    The problem is that creating a reliable and econmic system for energy distribution is a very complex task while politicians and activisits can only think in slogans.

    And human history is filled with examples of apprently simple solutions having dire unintended consequences.

  2. Murray Roxburgh says:

    The massive elephant in the room. there are more and bigger problems down the EV road so far totally ignored by the luvvies.

    Beyond the clear supply problems inherent in conversion of the fleet to lectrics outlined above by Andrei, the world reserves of “Lithium” are likely to be more finite than the still being discovered oil and Gas reserves.
    The lectric motors also use a finite supply of conductors, lubricants will still be involved , the tires will still accumulate and then there are the batteries not only a large pile but more toxic to boot.

    There is an ongoing chorus about the less fortunate being left behind and a second hand Suziki Swift is almost affordable for all while the cheapest new/near new lecki is a whole lot more.

  3. David says:

    Very interesting, thank you for the illumination. I assume the same level of analysis into the complete carbon footprint of the comparable diesel vehicle has been done

  4. Roj Blake says:

    Ele, the assertions rely on mining processes remaining unchanged.

    As the use of EVs increases, why wouldn’t the mining industry also turn to EVs?

    Australia is in the middle of an election campaign where Labor is showing support for EVs, while Morrison’s Libtards are squealing “Labor is coming fore your weekend, they’re taking away your Hiluxes”.

    Meanwhile, in the real world of free market economics, Ford has invested US$500 million in an electric car maker and plan to have an electric F-150 pickup.

    While the rest of you are tilting at windmills, the market isd making decisions and acting upon them. You need to get out of the way before you get run over.

  5. Andrei says:

    Meanwhile, in the real world of free market economics, Ford has invested US$500 million in an electric car maker and plan to have an electric F-150 pickup.

    In the “real world of free market economics” people have to actually buy the product.

    There maybe a niche market for an electric F-150 but it will be very small.

    People who buy F-150s generally live in rural, semi rural areas, travel many Kilometers, use them for towing etc and it is a heavy vehicle to start with

    Small urban runabouts are viable in electric versions but even then without subsidies they are not viable,

    And depreiciation on electric cars is horrendous – 50% in three years

  6. Roj Blake says:

    Andrei, stop living in the past – the future is upon us, you may as well try to stop the tide rolling in.

    There maybe a niche market for an electric F-150 but it will be very small.

    Remarkable how you know so much about Ford’s plans.

  7. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind.

  8. Andrei says:

    You know Roj an electric off roader would be awsome – electric cars would or will be awesome when there is an easy way to provide the electric motors with the electricity they need

    Batteries are not there yet – the infrastructure to recharge those batteries including the new power stations to generate that electricity are not there yet and recharging is much, much slower than just refilling your tank at the nearest gas station, which are plentiful – and batteries loose efficiency when it is cold, and as they age

    If you think it will be easy to provide new power stations and expand the grid even in a developed country like NZ in a short time frame you are naive

    And how this might work out in Africa, South America and Siberia I haven’t a clue. In fact an electric car just would not work in the Siberian winter, that is something the boosters of EVs fail to mention as canadian virtue signalers who have invested in them have found out

    For an urban runabout electric cars circa 2019 provide a viable alternative to petrol but even with the subsidies, like not paying road user charges they will end up costing their owners more in the long term than the petrol alternative – the initial cost is higher than a similiarly equiped petrol vehicle and the resale value is lower.

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