The transportation industry is making a shift from traditional vehicles to electronic transport. This is due to the government’s desire to reduce greenhouse emissions that affect climate change. For EU to reach its long-term climate goals, a drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary.
Electric transport is becoming popular for their claim to reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions and therefore saving the environment. It also reduces exposure to tailpipe emissions. Electric vehicles have a genuine advantage in decreasing nitrogen oxide and particulate matter in highly urbanised areas. When taken at face value, it makes sense. But it is necessary to take a closer look at the workings of electronic transport and traditional vehicles to ascertain the real environmental effects of electric vehicles (EVs).
EVs vs. Traditional Vehicles
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, the comparative life-cycle analysis of EVs and traditional vehicles showed that under the European energy grid, EVs outperformed traditional vehicles in greenhouse gas footprint by about 10% to 20% for diesel and powered traditional vehicles, respectively, and with a 10% to 24% decline in global warming potential when assuming 150,000 km lifetimes. In a natural gas energy grid, EVs still outperformed traditional vehicles, but in coal energy grid, EVs increased greenhouse gas emission by 17% to 27% compared to gas and diesel powered vehicles, respectively.
The study also revealed that ongoing EV production methods remarkably increased human toxicity, freshwater eutrophication, freshwater eco-toxicity, and metal depletion impacts. These make the EV’s supply chain more environmentally damaging compared to the production of traditional vehicles. However, the increased environmental cost of EV production can usually be offset by the decreased greenhouse gas emission of EVs in the use-phase.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electrical Scooters
In line with the above findings, let us examine the advantages of electric scooters for adults over conventional scooters and its effect on the environment.
In terms of performance, electric scooters perform comparably well against conventional scooters of the same weight and size. Road and Track even evaluated an electric scooter to be quicker and better than a conventional scooter. This can be attributed to the ability of electric machines to immediately develop full torque, especially without a clutch.
Electric scooters are low maintenance with only a battery, a motor, and a controller to keep you moving. You only have to worry about brake pads, tires, or a brake fluid flush. This makes it environmentally friendly by reducing usage of other maintenance fluids and parts.
Electric scooters have the advantage of big fuel cost savings. A 2,800 km (1,700 mi) of commuting on an electric scooter for 3 months only cost less than $30 for electricity, depending on electricity rates.
On the down side, electric scooters do not fare well in range because batteries cannot store as much energy as a gas tank, requiring multiple charges for long range driving or limiting oneself to fixed range driving.
So, are electric vehicles cleaner and greener?
The heavy use of fossil fuels means that electric transport is not as eco-friendly as it initially seems. However, while electric vehicles do produce global warming emissions, it’s not as much as conventional vehicles produce. An electric vehicle’s amount of emissions has a lot to do with the mix of energy sources powering the area’s electricity grid.
Electric vehicles must not be considered a cure-all for sustainable transport but instead a potentially helpful piece of the puzzle. The shift to electric transport must be accompanied by a keen focus on policy concerning life cycle management to eventually counter probable setbacks like water pollution and human toxicity. Electric transport is positioned to connect the personal transportation sector with the electricity, the metal, and the electronic sectors in a revolutionary way. Hence, these sectors’ developments must be collectively and steadily addressed so electric vehicles can contribute positively to climate change mitigation efforts.
Finding the right balance between the size of the battery and charging infrastructure is a critical factor in maximising the environment saving capacity of electric transport. As the technology develops, it is paramount to continue examining the environmental impact of electric transport for potential opportunities and pitfalls to be identified and to provide guidance to R&D and policy-makers.