Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Environmental Costs of EVs

Rumor:  Electric vehicles are more damaging to the environment than gas vehicles.  
That may be true from a simple manufacturing perspective, mainly because batteries are environmentally costly to manufacture.  But on a total life cycle comparison, EV's are the superior choice.  

Assumed lifetime of 150,000km (~93,000 miles). 

Shares correlating withthe components of an internal combustion engine car (ICEV, value in % of the BEV) and an electric battery powered car (BEV, the BEV is set as 100%) assessed with four impact assessment methods:

ADP Abiotic Depletion Potential-- ability to use up natural resources
GWP Global Warming Potential -- Global warming contribution.
CED Cumulative energy demand -- Total energy demand over whole life cycle
EI99 H/A -- Eco-indicator 99 – An environmental damage indicator

Road includes construction, maintenance, and end of life treatment (EOL). Even with using coal as a power source, the break even point for pollution of EV and ICE is 60.3mpg for ICE (Cumulative Energy Demand). Or 90.4mpg (EI99)

Propelling a BEV with electricity from an average hard coal power plant increases the environmental burden by 13.4%. On the other hand, using electricity from an average hydro-power plant decreases environmental burden by 40.2%

Environmental Science & technology: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es903729a

As the electric grid transitions over to cleaner and cleaner sources of energy, EV transportation also becomes cleaner.  --Revenge of the Electric Car.