OC BOARD OF DIRECTORS | Orange County Business Journal
Global automakers plan to spend $ 300 billion on electric vehicles over the next decade, according to Reuters.
Batteries powering electric vehicles are expected to represent 90% of the lithium-ion battery market by 2025.
Battery production consumes a lot of energy, from mining raw materials to the electricity consumed in manufacturing and assembly.
It causes a lot of environmental degradation. Take into account the dust, fumes, sewage and other environmental impacts of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Then add water shortages and toxic spills from lithium mining in Latin America. Altered ecosystems are harming local communities in Central Asia due to nickel mining in Russia. Extraction of rare earth minerals has a significant impact on air pollution in northeast China.
A Tesla lithium EV battery weighs approximately 1,000 pounds. Its five key elements – lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite ore and copper – require the extraction of approximately 90,000 pounds of ore.
Accessing 90,000 pounds of ore requires digging and moving between 200,000 and over 1.5 million pounds of earth, or an approximate average of over 500,000 pounds per battery.
A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) study found that batteries that use cathodes with nickel and cobalt, as well as solvent-based electrode processing, have an impact environmental, including resource depletion, ecology toxicity and global emissions from developing countries with minimal environmental regulations. Consider the adverse effects on human health and human atrocities in developing countries with little or no labor regulations.
Today, 20% of cobalt is mined by hand in third world countries like the Congo; it is certainly dangerous to health, associated with fatal lung disease.
One of the biggest problems in lithium mining is water.
The South American continent’s lithium triangle, which covers parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, holds more than half of the world’s reserves of the metal under its otherworldly salt flats.
It is also one of the driest places on the planet. To extract the lithium, the miners start by drilling a hole in the salt marshes and pumping mineral-rich brine to the surface.
It is a relatively cheap and efficient process, but it uses a lot of water. In the Salar de Atacama in Chile, mining activities consumed 65% of the region’s water. This has a big impact on local farmers – who grow quinoa and herds of llamas – in an area where some communities already have to bring in water from elsewhere.
The Lithium Triangle region is the only region in the world where two species of High Andean flamingos breed and feed.
In addition to the battery, an EV has an average of 1,000 plastic parts, which are made from hydrocarbons.
It’s not the only petroleum product used on electric vehicles: tires, belts, hoses, plastic coated electrical wires, power steering fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, air conditioning coolant, and transmission fluid.
By 2021, the capacity will exist to build batteries for more than 10 million cars running on 60 kilowatt-hour packs, according to Bloomberg.
Most of the EV battery supply will come from countries like China, Thailand and Poland. These are countries that depend on non-renewable sources like coal for electricity.
When a new electric vehicle appears in the showroom, it has already caused 30,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. The equivalent amount for the manufacture of a conventional car is 14,000 pounds.
Even if the electric vehicle travels 90,000 miles and the battery is charged by cleaner natural gas-fired power plants, it will only produce 24% less carbon dioxide emissions than a gasoline-powered car. As skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “It’s far from ‘zero emissions’. ”
The federal and state governments donate generously, often exceeding $ 10,000 per electric vehicle.
Additionally, utilities that will benefit from having drivers plug in for an electric charge are spending tens of millions of dollars on electric vehicle charging stations and billing the costs to all taxpayers.
Electric vehicle drivers pay no tax on gasoline, which is highway theft since they are supposed to pay for the interstate highway system. A tax on kilometers traveled by vehicles (VMT) is to come.
Who benefits from this government benevolence? The people who need the help of other taxpayers the least. According to a study by the University of California at Berkeley, 90% of tax credits go to the highest income quintile in the United States.
Almost half of all electric vehicles in America reside in one state – California, but they are mostly owned by highly paid, highly educated people, and only drive around 5,000 miles per year, reflecting that they are only a second vehicle and not the workhorse of the family.
Polls consistently show that electric vehicle subsidies are extremely unpopular and that most Americans don’t even want to donate a dime to pay for someone else’s car purchase.
EV batteries are only warranted for eight years and 100,000 miles. Replacement batteries cost between $ 6,000 and $ 9,000.
An environmental challenge: what to do with the batteries once they have run out.
We will inevitably need to recycle a lot of batteries, but collecting useful materials remains tedious and risky.
More than a million electric vehicles were sold worldwide in 2017. It is estimated that these cars alone will ultimately result in 250,000 tonnes of discarded batteries.
If these end up in landfills, they run the risk of undergoing a process called “thermal runaway,” which is basically a chemical reaction in the battery that can cause it to heat up, potentially to the point of burning or exploding. This is why the TSA prohibits spare lithium-ion batteries in checked baggage on airplane flights.
General Motors recalled in August all of its 143,000 bolts for a fire hazard to replace new battery modules. The move, which could cost GM $ 1.8 billion, came with these recommendations:
• Do not park your Chevy Bolt within 50 feet of other vehicles in case it catches fire as lithium ion fires are a chemical reaction, they can only be cooled when extinguished.
• Do not leave your charging vehicle unattended, even if you are using a charging station in a car park.
• Charge the battery to only 90%.
• Charge more frequently.
• Avoid depleting the battery below approximately 70 miles of remaining range.
• Park electric vehicles outside immediately after charging and do not leave them charging indoors overnight.