How “Green” Are Electric Vehicles? A Look for Professionals with Hybrid and Electrical Mechanic Training

Electric vehicles have increased in popularity and accessibility in recent years. Government initiatives and advancements in technology have encouraged people to choose electric vehicles over gasoline-powered ones as a way to reduce their environmental impact, consume less oil, and work to combat climate change. While there’s no question that electric vehicles are “greener” than gasoline-powered vehicles, they don’t come without their own carbon footprint. 

If you’re considering a career as a hybrid and electrical mechanic, knowing the impact of electric vehicles on the environment will be important in understanding the future of EVs and the direction of technological innovation. 

Read on to discover the environmental impact of EVs, and what can be done to reduce it. 

If You Have Hybrid and Electrical Mechanic Training, Here’s a Look at How Electrical Grids Impact the Environment

You’re probably familiar with the electric grid system that EVs rely on if you have hybrid and electrical mechanic training. Charging stations for EVs are connected to electric grid systems, and much of an EV’s environmental impact can be determined by understanding the electric grid it’s being plugged into. While some electric grids are cleaner than others, electric grids often generate electricity from fossil fuels. Many electric grids are coal-powered, meaning that electric vehicles are getting their charge from a source which produces greenhouse gas emissions. 

Electric vehicles rely on electrical grids to obtain their charge

Before electric vehicles can be classified as emissions free, electric grids will need to stop being powered by fossil fuels. In the mean time, however, EVs still produce significantly less carbon dioxide per kilometre driven than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: Problematic to Produce

Most electric vehicles are powered by lithium-ion batteries, and producing these batteries comes with its own slew of pollution and environmental impact. The batteries in EVs are powered by a number of metals, including nickel, lithium, and cobalt. Lithium is mined from the earth in a water-intensive process, using much more water than it takes to manufacture an internal combustion engine. Mining and processing the minerals used in batteries also produces significant carbon emissions due to the energy-intensive nature of the extraction process, in which heavy machinery and diesel generators are often employed. The mining process also contributes significant pollution to the surrounding environment due to the toxic chemicals used to extract the minerals. 

The batteries of electric vehicles have a significant environmental impact

How Can EVs Become “Greener”?

Although the batteries and electric grids relied upon by electric vehicles have a significant environmental impact, as a hybrid and electric vehicle mechanic it’s important to be aware of how the future of EVs is changing. Electrical grids are becoming greener as countries like the United States and Canada are beginning to move away from coal plants as a source of energy. Canada has committed to closing all coal-burning plants by the year 2030, which will lead to a significant reduction in the emissions that EVs are contributing to. Electrical grids are gradually moving toward being powered by cleaner energy sources like solar power, low-emission natural gas, and wind. With electrical grids producing fewer emissions, the amount of greenhouse gases that EVs are responsible for will reduce in the future. 

There has also been more research surrounding the recycling of lithium-ion batteries. Currently, only a low percentage of lithium-ion batteries are recycled, but innovation surrounding the use for electric vehicle batteries in other applications is increasing. In the future, lithium-ion batteries may be adapted for use in mobile energy storage applications and energy grids. Additionally, research is being conducted in an attempt to extend the lifespan and range of these batteries, which will reduce their environmental impact.

Despite the environmental impact of electric vehicles, they’re touted as “green” for a reason. These vehicles have a much smaller carbon footprint than gas-powered vehicles, and as technology advances, we’re sure to see them become even “greener.”

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