Are EVs really
better for the
As more and more households are looking to reduce carbon emissions and save on fuel costs, EVs are considered a more attractive solution. And with changes in legislation preventing the sale of internal combustion cars after 2025, more public charging options in the ACT and more vehicles coming into the market, it's no wonder that car owners are more open to the idea of an electric vehicle.
But while electric vehicles may seem attractive for those looking to reduce their energy bills and environmental impact, many wonder whether they are better for the environment when considering manufacturing costs and battery disposal.
So, are EVs really better for the environment? We look at the common conversation topics and sort fact from fiction.
Myth - Electric vehicles are worse for the environment as they still use electricity.
While electric vehicles don't produce any harmful emissions from their tailpipes, the electricity used to charge them can come from sources like coal or natural gas, which do create carbon pollution.
The good news is that research shows that even when you consider these electricity emissions, EVs still produce fewer greenhouse gases than regular fuel cars. Even better – as all energy generated in the ACT comes from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, there is no comparison between EVs and internal combustion cars when it comes to sustainability.
Researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Nijmegen in The Netherlands found that in 95% of the world, driving an electric car is better for the environment than driving a fuel-powered vehicle.
Myth - Electric vehicles are worse for the environment because of battery manufacturing.
Some studies have shown that manufacturing a typical EV can create more carbon pollution than an internal combustion engine car due to the additional energy required to make an EV battery.
Since electric vehicles have large batteries with many complex components, EV manufacturing releases emissions due to the mining and processing of materials such as lithium and cobalt. However, the carbon footprint of EV production is decreasing as manufacturers adopt more sustainable practices and battery technology improves.
Several studies state the 'carbon payback period' for an average electric car can range from two to four years of driving, depending on the specific vehicle, the country and driving patterns. This means that after a few years of driving an EV, its carbon emissions from the manufacturing process would be offset by the lower emissions produced during its operation compared to a petrol-powered vehicle.
Myth - EV batteries cause more pollution at the end of life.
EV batteries are made from base metals like aluminium, copper and iron, and expensive materials such as cobalt, nickel and manganese. However, these precious metals in lithium-ion EV batteries can be recycled, keeping them out of landfill.
In Europe, regulations require automakers to ensure that 95% of the battery pack can be reused or recycled. At home, Australia's biggest battery recycler, Ecobatt, recovers around 90% of all battery materials like lithium, nickel, and cobalt, which are then shipped overseas to make new batteries.
As battery technology rapidly improves and evolves, an EV's carbon payback period will likely decrease further, which is excellent environmental news.
- Electric vehicles (EVs) are an attractive solution for households looking to reduce carbon emissions and save on fuel costs, with more public charging options and vehicles coming into the market.
- EVs are better for the environment overall, despite the electricity used to charge them possibly coming from carbonemitting sources, as they produce fewer greenhouse gases than regular fuel cars.
- While some studies have shown that EV manufacturing can create more carbon pollution than internal combustion engine cars due to the additional energy required to make a battery, the carbon footprint decreases as manufacturers adopt more sustainable practices and battery technology improves.
- EV batteries can be recycled, with European regulations requiring automakers to ensure that 95% of the battery pack can be reused or recycled.
- Battery technology improvements are expected to further decrease an EV's carbon payback period, making them an even more environmentally friendly option.
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