Climate change and sustainability are 2 topics that we as a society need to understand and then come to have an opinion. In this post, I will try to answer a few pressing questions that I feel are necessary to understand the application of a topic. I want discuss some critical issues in simple words. I am not going to give sources of the numbers. Having tried my best to get the numbers right, the main aim of this post is to trigger some curiosity and make the readers decide on their own on what to do next.
Before you read, I am not a climate change skeptic. I believe that climate change and associated pollution are one of the greatest challenges of our generation. Also I work in the oil and gas industry. In the first post, I will look into electric vehicles.
1. What are the different types of vehicular pollution??
There are different types of vehicular pollution.
- Particulate matter (PM). These particles of soot and metals give smog its murky color.
- Total Hydrocarbons (THC) - Vaporised and unburnt fuel from the vehicle
- Nitrogen oxides (NOx) - Oxidation of N2 in the fuel
- Carbon monoxide (CO) - Partically oxidized fuel
- Sulfur dioxide (SO2) - Sulphur in the fuel
- Carbon di oxide (CO2). - Oxidation of fuel
2. Is there vehicular emission from Electric vehicles?
There is no emission from electric vehicles.
3. Does this mean if I use Electric vehicles, there are no CO2 emissions?
Nope. The electricity generation is always associated with emissions.
For example, In India 80% of the total electricity comes from fossil fuels. (Coal, gas and oil). There are cases, when an EV could result in more net CO2 emission if the electricity is from a dirty source of electricity.
4. How can a user understand the CO2 emission from the use of EVs?
This is where things like Life cycle Analysis help (LCA). This is used to understand the environmental impact of energy use. More on that later. It’s clear that if the electricity is from a dirty source, the advantage of EVs is significantly reduced.
5. Then is an EV really advantageous?
There are a couple of hidden benefits.
- Reduced pollution in the cities. Depending on your source, the vehicular pollution causes close to 30 % of net pollution. City like delhi would benefit from all public transport converted to electric vehicles.
- Single source of CO2 emission. When all the vehicles burn CO2, the source of pollution is distributed all around. Now a power plant is a single source and there are easier measures to prevent pollution from power plants like CCUS (Carbon capture Utilization and storage).
5. What percent of the total vehicles on road are electric?
Less than 1%
6. If electric vehicles are so good, why has it not become a success
There are a few reasons for that.
- The best of the electric cars will go about 300 km on road and it would take about an hour to recharge fully from the best of charging stations.
- Cost is an issue. But the numbers are coming down rapidly.
- The infrastructure around charging. Most of the world is not ready to move to EVs just yet. It requires tremendous effort from the governments to set up the infrastructure.
- Lack of awareness amongst people. This is once again a very big hurdle. There is nothing black or white and it’s important to understand what is necessary.
7. What is the auther’s outlook on EVs?
EVs are the future long term. Short term depends on the lot of factors. Tesla will be keenly looked upon. Their success could influence the success of the EVs in the next few years.