Electric Cars: are they really an answer?

Before we all jump on the (electric) band wagon, take a moment to look up images of Lithium mines on line.  Lithium is a rare commodity, mined by open cast techniques, and existing mines have torn up huge swathes of forest and prairies.  To achieve the numbers of electric vehicles this government expects to be on the road in the next few years, assuming there is that much Lithium available, how many thousands of square miles will be trashed to power them?

Also, lithium batteries do have a life span: think of the number of phones that are ditched because the battery no longer takes charge? More vast quarries?

And finally, how is spent lithium recycled... anyone know?  It has been glossed over.

  • I agree with you. Battery powered cars aren't the answer IMO. As well as your points, the batteries aren't cheap and don't have great life expectancy.
  • I'd like to know how they are going to produce all the extra electricity needed to charge these cars up, oil-fired power stations? Also they use a huge amount of energy to manufacture the batterys. Improved public transport & foot power where possible is a better answer.

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • I remember back in 2009 when we were about to buy a petrol driven car, the government suddenly piped up we should be buying diesel cars instead so reluctantly we changed our decision at the very last moment and opted on their advice and recommendation to go diesel only to find a few years later that they were trashing the idea of diesel for the same reasons that we were originally opting for a petrol driven vehicle; we also had the VW recall for the cheat software and regretted following governments directive. We have kept our car for over 10 years and had given thought to replacing it with an electric vehicle but it is such early days yet to understand all the pros/cons of fully electric, plus the fact that new builds (including our new apartment which we are shortly to move in to) does not insist on placing a charging point on site thus making it very difficult to choose electric should we have felt that was the way to go. Even the councils are giving new planning consents without the requirement for charging points so if the government are insistent on being fully electric in the future they are not being supported by local councils. Clearer advice and an understanding of the impact that lithium batteries and their manufacturing has on the environment still unclear, our next car will be petrol.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Where do I start!

    The propaganda machines are in full swing to 'con'-vince us we have to make the change.

    First, I'm all for looking after the environment, at the right cost, something which I fear isn't happening. A brief digression is HS2, which is impacting my local area quite heavily, with woodland being removed at an alarming rate.

    Anyway, back to the subject, electric cars.

    You're right about the lithium availability, and batteries having a limited lifespan, as do all batteries.

    Now that the UK govt has decreed come 2035 there will be no new fossil fuel vehicles on sale, so hopefully the infrastructure required to charge these cars, and keep them charged will e in place by then.

    I'm not holding my breath on that one, but something will need to be done, not just the availability of charging points at suitable locations away from the home, ie filling/charging stations and motorway service stations.

    Also the time to charge a battery up needs to be improved!

    Now the next tricky point, home charging!

    Many cars are kept on the road when not in use, and it has been suggested that lampposts would have charging points fitted.

    A nice idea, but.

    Most lampposts today are recessed away from the kerb, and trailing cables will be a trip hazard!

    On older housing estates, will the underground mains cabling take the added power required?

    I very much doubt they will....

    As for generating the power, the UK's answer is green energy, wind farms predominantly, though there are some solar panel farms and wave farms. The wind farms and solar farms will blight the countryside, and yet, we have a plethora of tall buildings, and multistory car parks, which could be home to solar panels within the urban environment. What could be nicer, the top floor of a multistory car park, normally exposed to the elements, with a roof of solar panels on?

    So why won't they do that with solar panels!

    The comment about diesel vs petrol is a very valid and good point.

    The push to get drivers to move over to diesel was not an environmental one, it was about conserving oil reserves, with diesels typically attaining anything up to twice the miles per gallon over petrol.

    BTW, that is more so the case today, diesel is now 10% vegetable oil added, so from a fossil fuel reserve perspective, it is better than petrol.

    Diesels sold after 2010 have to have a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to filter out soot particles, and more recently, diesels have to have an additive called Adblu, which is an ammonia based solution injected into the exhaust gasses after the catalytic converter, to reduce the recently discovered nitrogen oxide (NOX).

    Incidentally, petrol engines now have to have a gasoline particulate filter (GPF) which does the same for a petrol engine that a DPF for diesels.

    In the meantime, road planners have this insatiable desire to interfere with the flow of traffic in the urban environment with traffic lights at increasingly frequent intervals (we have a road intersection which has 8 sets of lights, around 100 yrds apart, and rarely do I manage to get round without stopping at each set, often with a cold engine), thus creating a stop/start environment, which in turn increases vehicle pollution because vehicles idle a lot and do a lot of moving off and slowing down/stopping, the first part, the moving off, creating to pollution issue, and why some urban areas are now being forced to introduce congestion charges.

    Is the spent lithium from electric car batteries recycled?

    Yes, but not in this country as yet, though electric car battery plants are currently in the process of being built. One is being constructed not too far from where I live.

    Yes, currently lithium batteries are expensive, so is the cost of replacing them, because the onus is on the owner/driver to bear the cost of correct disposal for recycling, which isn't like changing a battery on a current fossil fuelled car.

    As with all new technology, the cost of electric cars will come down, once they become more popular. However, from a personal perspective, as someone who holidays in this country, the current offering of small cars isn't suitable, because the boot space is so ridiculously small, I wouldn't get any luggage in!

    So, the reason for the push to all electric cars is to reduce the pollution in the urban environment.

    But at what expense, and I don't mean monetary!

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler