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Updated: Aug 6, 2020

We think E-Vehicles are our future, with tesla being the most valuable automobile company we surely are moving in that direction. But are E-Vehicles really a Boon for us? Or is it just the silence that comes before a storm? In this article, we’ll explore in a transparent manner!

It might come as a surprise to many but contrary to popular beliefs, Electric Vehicles which were hitherto thought to be a viable and environment-friendly alternative to carbon-emitting vehicular fuels such as petrol and diesel, are actually equally hazardous to the environment, if not more. In fact, recent studies have corroborated the fact that EVs are considerably worse for the climate than diesel cars.

As per a study conducted by Christoph Buchal of the University of Cologne, electric vehicles have "significantly higher CO2 emissions than diesel cars.” In order to understand this, we need to take a step back. The issue is closely tied to the process involved in the production of electric car batteries and while charging these batteries.

Batteries of Today

A whopping quantity of energy is used in the mining and processing of lithium, cobalt, and manganese, crucial raw materials required to manufacture such batteries. It takes more than twice the amount of energy to manufacture an electric car than a conventional one and the main reason for that is the battery. Battery manufacturing with contemporary technology requires 350 to 650 Megajoule of energy per kWh, as per a study led by the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. Added to this, is the CO2 emissions of the electricity from powerplants, which powers such vehicles.

Even though electric cars do not emit much harmful and climate-damaging greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide, they might run on electricity produced by burning dirty fossil fuels, which actually takes away its climate benefits. The overall carbon footprint of a battery-powered EV is the same as that of a conventional car powered by a combustion engine, regardless of the size. Though EVs emit less while driving on the streets, a large amount of CO2 is emitted by power plants that charge the electric cars.

Why Not EV?

Several prominent researchers have opined that methane-powered gasoline engines or hydrogen motors could reduce CO2 emissions by a third and possibly eliminate the need for diesel motors in the long run, if implemented holistically.

Also, it is important to note that EVs are way too expensive and a minuscule number of consumers are finding vehicles that are available in the market, actually appealing. One of the most important factors contributing to this high cost is the battery technology currently prevailing. Batteries make up to almost half the cost of an electricity-powered car. While the cost of batteries has come down over the years, they are still quite expensive to spike the overall cost of an EV, when compared to a regular vehicle plying the road.

The Future

Considering the limitations and constraints that EVs face, many researchers across the world are toying with the idea of cheaper zero-emission fuel cell tech, which they think, will replace gas engines in vehicles in the near future. A study revealed that advancements in such fuel cell technology will make them much cheaper compared to traditional gasoline engines in vehicles, thereby making them commercially viable when mass produced. In fact, the University of Waterloo in Canada developed a new fuel cell that lasts at least 10 times longer than existing technology. These fuel cells are more durable and can deliver a continuous, rather than fluctuating, amount of electricity.

These fuel cells produce electricity by facilitating a chemical reaction between Oxygen and Hydrogen, and is, therefore, simpler and much less expensive. In terms of durability and performance, they are on par with regular fuels. Once introduced in hybrid vehicles, it would lead to mass production and as a corollary, reduced unit costs. Being safe, efficient, affordable and a green source of electrical power, they are expected to replace both batteries as well as conventional engines.

Still Tesla shows a good dream rather a future where we can better ourselves. The electric vehicle sector is still unexplored which results to misconceptions of it being better than diesel/petrol variations. We need to channel the technology to find an even more Sustainable option.

Hence, in order to move perfectly in e-mobility and be truly energy efficient, nations have to transition their energy generation in parallel.

By : Ajinkya Shinde | ChangeMaker

(Facts are subject to Forbes Pvt. Ltd.)

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