Experts at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago conducted a study and found that, in terms of the total carbon footprint, battery-powered cars are much more harmful to the environment than models with a traditional internal combustion engine. But they compensate for the harm during operation and over time, due to the absence of harmful emissions, they really become more environmentally friendly.
Experts in their study took into account thousands of different factors, ranging from the type of metal used in batteries, to the amount of aluminum and plastic in the structure. Jarod Corey Kelly, chief analyst at the lab, said that the production of electric vehicles emits much more carbon dioxide when compared to cars equipped with internal combustion engines. This is primarily related to the production of batteries.
As a visual illustration, the experts compared a Tesla Model 3 electric car and a conventional gasoline Toyota Corolla and calculated how many kilometers a zero-CO2 electric car would take to neutralize environmental damage during the production process.
So, in the conditions of China or Poland, where most of the energy is obtained in the “dirtiest” way, burning coal, an electric car will become more environmentally friendly than a car with an internal combustion engine only after 126,655 kilometers. In Norway, where this type of mining has been abandoned, the equilibrium point will be reached at a distance of 14,000 kilometers. For America, where a quarter of total electricity production comes from coal combustion, this figure was 21,735 kilometers.
According to experts, the production of a medium-sized electric vehicle generates 47 grams of carbon dioxide per mile (about 1.6 kilometers). And this is only at the stage of production until the moment of transfer to the buyer. A similar gasoline vehicle generates 32 grams of CO2 per mile.
But not everything is so bad – according to a Reuters report, in the worst case, when an electric car during operation will be charged only from a coal network, it will emit 4.1 tons of CO2 into the air per year, while the indicator for a gasoline the machine will be more than 4.6 tons.