Table of contents:
- How do batteries evolve?
- How environmentally friendly are e-cars?
- Are the existing raw materials sufficient?
- Will jobs be lost through electromobility?
- What happens to the old battery?
- Is our electricity grid ready for electric mobility?
Video: Electric Mobility In The Fact Check
2023 Author: Hannah Pearcy | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 11:12
Electromobility is growing, 7.5 million electric cars are already on the streets worldwide. By 2030, market studies estimate that their share of global passenger car sales will increase to 25 to 75 percent worldwide. Nevertheless, there is a lot of skepticism about the technology and it is not uncommon for the usefulness to be questioned. Due to this growth and the many unanswered questions, the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI carried out a detailed fact check based on a meta-literature analysis of external and in-house studies and answered common questions about e-mobility. In the following we address the most important questions.
How do batteries evolve?
In the past ten years, the energy density of large-format lithium-ion battery cells used in electric cars has almost doubled and could double again by 2030. In order to achieve real ranges of over 600 kilometers, in addition to the further development of the battery cells, space-saving and weight-saving innovations down to the battery system level and in the vehicle are required.
In the further development, the manufacturers focus primarily on a higher energy density for a higher performance and a cheaper manufacturing method.
The greatest energy density of over 1,000 Wh / l would be achieved with lithium metal anodes. However, this would require solid electrolytes that are not yet commercially available. Fraunhofer ISI suspects that the first solid batteries on a larger scale can be expected from around 2025.
How environmentally friendly are e-cars?
In fact, depending on production and battery size, electric cars produce 70 to 130 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional petrol or diesel vehicles in production. But that's only one aspect, because when it comes to use, electric vehicles do better. In doing so, Fraunhofer ISI also took into account the current German electricity mix and also expected that the energy transition would go as planned (ie the share of renewable energies would increase). Overall, electric cars are in a better position than conventional petrol or diesel vehicles: an electric car purchased today consumes 15 to 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions over its entire lifespan than a comparable modern car.
Fraunhofer ISI also emphasizes that the energy transition plays an important role in this calculation. If predominantly or exclusively renewable electricity is used, as some citizens already do with their own PV system, the balance of e-cars is even more positive.
E-cars can also improve when it comes to recycling: Although many studies say that recycling has hardly any impact on the emissions balance, Fraunhofer believes that recycling the battery again would significantly improve the balance.
The mining of raw materials was not taken into account in the greenhouse gas emissions balance, since it is difficult to make comparisons here. However, Fraunhofer points out that there are still major negative ecological and social effects in raw material extraction for battery production.
Are the existing raw materials sufficient?
Another critical point of e-vehicles is the raw materials required - can global demand be met permanently? For the most part yes, so the answer from Fraunhofer ISI. Above all, lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite are sufficiently available, even if one considers the generally increasing demand. In the case of cobalt, the situation will even be mitigated by the development of cobalt-reduced high-energy batteries. Only with nickel there is still uncertainty. Above all, work should be done on recycling so that new raw materials can be recovered from old batteries.
Will jobs be lost through electromobility?
Since an electric vehicle requires fewer components, production is less complex and labor-intensive, which is why a large number of studies assume that many jobs will be lost as a result of the increased production of electric cars. The frequently mentioned positive job effects in battery production are probably kept low due to the highly automated production. For this, positive job effects in electricity generation, digitization and the construction of the charging infrastructure are expected.
What happens to the old battery?
In principle, used batteries can be recycled, which is already being done in pilot plants, but there is still a lot of research to be done here. Legislators also have to act, because the current battery recycling legislation, which provides for a collection rate of 45 percent and a recycling percentage of 50 percent of the average weight, does not do justice to the expected increase in used batteries.
Another option here could be the secondary use of the batteries - the concept is currently being tested and could become relevant from 2030, when an expected return of used vehicle batteries is expected. For functioning business models, secondary batteries would have to be available at a reasonable price and with sufficient remaining power.
Is our electricity grid ready for electric mobility?
There are currently around 45 million cars in Germany - if these were all electric cars, the national electricity demand would increase by 20 percent. Forecasts say that around seven to ten million electric cars will be on the road in Germany by 2030, which means an increased electricity requirement of 3 to 4.5 percent - feasible for the power grid. Another important factor is the so-called simultaneity factor, which is around 30 percent, meaning that only 30 percent of electric cars charge at the same time and thus put a strain on the power grid at the same time. Research is currently ongoing to determine whether bottlenecks can occur at important hubs at times of high travel.
The complete fact check