electric car

Are electric cars eco-friendly?

Many of us have this question about which is less harmful to our planet- electric cars or gas-driven vehicles. It is pretty easy to assert that, unlike gas-driven cars, electric cars don’t emit harmful exhausts in the environment. No greenhouse gas emission, no pollution! But one should never make this mistake that cars charged with electricity are an ideal option and harmless for the environment. On the contrary, electric cars are equally polluting. Do you know why? This is because the batteries of electric cars have lithium as a chief constituent. This element needs significant amounts of energy sources to make the car work. Therefore, electric cars contribute in small measures to the problem of pollution. 

The revelation of study report conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

According to a journal published in 2014 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that had undertaken the project of finding out the life cycle of emission of an electric vehicle and comparing the findings to the average rate of gas-powered vehicle emissions, had revealed an important fact. 

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After a rigorous study of varied materials, the report had proclaimed that if an electric vehicle is driven by coal-powered electricity, it is detrimental for the environment, so much so that even a gas-driven car will be far less polluting for the environment. 

Electric Grids and Renewable Energy Sources

National grids, spread over various parts of the world, are pretty clean for electric vehicles. However, these can easily give a tough fight to the gasoline charged automobiles when compared while taking the parameter of pollution and extent of greenhouse emissions into consideration. 

Colin Sheppard, having expertise in transportation system engineering at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, has made an important point. He said that gasoline internal combustion engines come on the same scale as those of the electric vehicles only when the former is connected to coal-powered electric grids.   

Not many places use coal-driven electric grills. However, China is the only country that makes use of electric grids powered by coal. About 58% of the nation’s entire power supply comes from coal. In recent years, the country has shifted its attention to renewable energy sources such as wind energy and solar energy. China has a higher renewable energy potential than the US, almost about twice the wind energy capacity of the latter. Besides, as has been known from the Nature Magazine, China has the highest solar panel building rate than any other developed country. 

To protect the environment from vehicular emissions, this increasing shift to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels is appreciable. Gordon Bauer, a Researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation in San Francisco, has said that if more grids can be made greener, the eco-friendlier the electric vehicles will grow. 

Study Report by the journal Environmental Science and Technology

In the journal mentioned above, Sheppard had presented a hypothetical situation for the future where all the cars were electric. The goal was to study the impact on emissions and infrastructure if all the vehicles were electrically driven. The result was in favor of a future dominated by electric vehicles. 

Sheppard has brought out an important fact that if all the private vehicles in the US were electrically powered, the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions would have been curbed by 46% compared to gasoline-driven cars. Undoubtedly, if the procedure of controlled or intelligent charging is employed, there would be a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It can be quickly done by charging the vehicles intentionally at certain times to bring a reduction in the cost of electricity generation. For example, the energy-producing plants can produce cheaper electricity if the cars are charged at night and not in the daytime. This is just one way of doing so. Many other forms can also be used for cheap electricity generation. The emissions could have been curbed from 46% to 49% if this method is applied. The above facts have been stated by Sheppard by keeping in mind the energy portfolio of the US. He has envisaged a country rich with renewable energy sources, though the national grid contributes to climate change. However, many political and practical changes are needed to be brought out to popularize electric vehicles further. 

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Which is better – Electric Vehicles or Gasoline-powered vehicles?

It can be easily said that electric vehicles are better than gasoline or coal-powered vehicles when thought about the implications on the environment. But, when it comes to cost, electric cars are not much favorable. Well, these are too pricey! Therefore, many people may not purchase such an expensive vehicle.  However, a Consumer Report of 2020 has shown a different result. The maintenance costs and per-mile repairing costs of an electric vehicle are less than the gas-driven vehicles. 

Bauer’s point of view

Bauer has estimated that by the year 2030, there will be more significant concern about how fast automobile manufacturers can launch electric vehicles in the market. Bauer has also stated that the tremendous depreciation rate of the new EVs will highly benefit those households having a low annual income and prefer to purchase used cars. Moreover, considering other factors such as technological improvements and competition between the suppliers, it can be stated that, by 2029, an EV will most likely cost somewhere near the traditional vehicles. 

Conclusion

Electric vehicles are an excellent option to go for as they are much better for the environment. Bauer estimated that, by 2030, US’ low-income households could efficiently save $1000 per year as no costs of fuel expenditure are involved in the case of an EV. 

 

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