Electric cars and lithium batteries have been romping along, with petrol and diesel cowering in the corner. However there are storm clouds gathering on the carbon front. We love our battery-powered transport, but we think we should shop in full knowledge of the carbon implications. So let’s talk about the greatest challenge facing electric cars.
The Battery Capacity Riddle Facing Electric Cars
The Swedish Transport Administration and Energy Agency have been investigating the lithium battery life cycle. They discovered manufacturing a kilowatt-hour of battery capacity produces 150 to 200 kilograms of carbon in the factory.
Thus the electric vehicle batteries for the Nissan Leaf (30 kWh) and Tesla Model S (100 kWh) cost 5.3 tons and 17.5 tons of CO2 respectively. But this is not the greates carbon problem facing the two factories where they make the cars.
So What Is the Greatest Challenge Facing Electric Cars?
Some 20% of this carbon comes from material mining and production. The rest comes from electricity used to assemble batteries. The Swedish researchers assumed half this comes from fossil fuels. If they made them in Sweden where the power mix is healthier though, the carbon cost would be much lower, they add wryly.
The greatest challenge facing electric cars is fossil is the primary source of energy for electricity generation in the US. That’s 33.8% natural gas, and 30.4% coal. Investment analysts Morgan Stanley have been identifying investment opportunities that make a sustained improvement to climate change.
They agree electric cars and lithium batteries reduce direct CO2 emissions while driving. But the problem is the carbon cost of recharging them from national grids. Doing this with American electricity costs more carbon than these savings. Do you think the greatest challenge facing electric cars could turn out that they are ahead of their time?
Preview Image: Nissan Leaf