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article imageEnvironment gains of electric cars off-set by battery production

By Tim Sandle     Oct 27, 2018 in Environment
Electric cars offer a means to reduce the global carbon footprint through a reduction of the use of fossil fuels. Environmental gains, however, do not factor in battery production.
That the production of batteries could off-set the gains made from the use of electric cars comes from a new report. The inquiry has been produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance - "The Dirt on Clean Electric Cars" - and it shows how emissions derived from the manufacture of large battery packs for electric cars will probably cancel out improvements from the low emissions from the cars themselves. After several years the balance may swing back to a reduction in emissions, but this will depend upon how long an individual electric car is used for. Given that manufacturers of electric cars will be keen for motorists to upgrade their vehicle, as is the case with conventional fossil-fuel dependent or hybrid cars, this could mean that electric cars do not end up making a significant inroad in tackling climate change.
These findings are significant, according to the website Green Car Reports, as it is predicted that electric cars will make up half the global market by 2040. The concern arises because most of the manufacturing centers that produce the batteries required for electric cars make use of the dirtiest sources of energy. Countries like China, Thailand, Germany, and Poland, are called out as manufacturing centers of concern. For example, Germany obtains 37 percent of its energy from coal-fired power stations.
There are greener alternatives, like the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, which runs off renewable energy. Plus the Northvolt factory being built in Sweden, which plans to use hydro-power. However, these producers of batteries remain in the minority.
A related issue is that as electric cars become bigger in size, more common, and more sophisticated, they are likely to require bigger batteries. And bigger batteries will require more energy to produce them. This means to harness the environmental advantages of electric cars, the manufacture of batteries needs to be tackled simultaneously.
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