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Are electric cars better for the environment?

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Are electric cars greener? 

The short answer is, yes. If you compare them to cars with petrol or diesel engines, EVs are better for the environment.  

When you drive a petrol or diesel car, CO2 from burning fuel are released into the environment from the exhaust. These are dangerous emissions that are contributing to air quality and the environment. On the other hand, when you drive an electric car you’re not creating any exhaust emissions at all. So the main way electric cars are better for the environment is because there are no emissions from burning fuel.    

Driving an electric car does produce some emissions from electricity generation – but you can power your car partly or fully using renewables. Like through solar panels and a smart charger, or by buying your electricity on a 100% green tariff from a green energy supplier. And even if you charge an electric car from a coal or gas plant. The carbon emissions still work out lower than from the petrol or diesel equivalent. 

What about electric car batteries and landfill? 

You might worry about car batteries cluttering up landfill sites or lithium in electric car batteries. The good news is battery tech is now so good that new batteries usually last as long as the car (Tesla, the electric car pioneers, even have a ‘million mile’ battery!). Yes, electric car batteries do degrade but only very gradually and they will still have enough oomph for most people’s needs even when they’ve covered hundreds of thousands of miles. 

In an unlikely scenario where a battery needs replacing, it can usually be used in another way, like powering the National Grid for example. You can rest easy knowing that a car battery goes on being useful for years afterwards before it’s recycled  – and there are lots of companies building up state-of-the-art electric car battery recycling facilities already. Batteries very rarely end up in landfill at all.  

Electric car batteries need lithium, but luckily there is more than enough of this natural resource in the world. There are different ways it can be extracted and here in the UK we’re leading the way in producing lithium from brines in ways that have less environmental impact. 

Other factors

Any kind of manufacturing process tends to use energy and create waste and car manufacture is no different.  

But with so much growing awareness of the dangers of Climate Change. Car manufacturers are finding ways to reduce the negative impact of their manufacturing processes, and create genuinely eco-friendly cars.  

The best brands are looking carefully at every stage of the process and trying to cut out the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they produce because CO2 is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases causing the planet to become dangerously warm.   

Many car makers are aiming to go zero carbon and where that’s not possible, they’re making up for their carbon emissions by investing in climate friendly projects such as tree-planting. Those trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere which slows down global warming. 

Some people think synthetic fuels are the way forward, but although they’re an alternative to petrol and diesel. The complex process of making them and transporting them to fuel stations uses several times more energy than making and running an electric car. And burning the fuel is bad for the environment.

It’s greener to drive an electric car because the National Grid infrastructure is already in place to provide the electricity to charge your car, cutting down on transportation of fuel.

There are more and more renewable energy tariffs available from your energy provider  which means that the electricity you use comes from things like wind and solar power,So whichever way you look at it, it’s still greener to power and drive an electric car than to use synthetic fuel. 

We know that carbon emissions are bad because they’re causing global warming but tiny particles, which are too small to see, are a problem too.

Unfortunately all cars produce some of these harmful particles from their tyres and brake pads. However, electric cars produce less than normal cars because of the way the electric motor recycles energy. This means there’s less use and wear of the brake pads.  

But the vast majority of these dangerous particles are pumped out of the exhausts of petrol and diesel cars. In heavily built up areas with a lot of traffic, these particle emissions are leading to serious health problems.

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