How green are electric vehicles really for a smart city future?
Electric vehicles have steadily come into the consciousness of consumers over the past few years, and interest in revolutionary automotive technology has peaked with record sales of electric vehicles expected this year. In some countries, lawmakers have pushed electric vehicle makers to move there, and of course everyone has heard of Elon Musk’s Tesla.
A determining factor in the discussion is the reduction of the environmental impact of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles have been positioned as one of the main pillars as urban centers transform into smart cities – primarily in terms of revolutionizing transportation needs in the city. Along with studies on autonomous vehicles and autonomous public trains and buses, electric vehicles are being designed to make travel in the smart city of tomorrow much more sustainable.
But research is also now revealing what was less clear before: EVs might not be as green as initially hoped. In fact, the carbon emissions emitted by the vehicle are just one of the many factors that can help determine how harmful it can be to the environment.
After all, the electrical energy needed to power vehicle charging stations is likely produced in a fossil-fueled power plant. There are other factors that should be of concern to consumers who compare EVs to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, says Benjamin Chiang, Ernst & Young government and public sector leader in Southeast Asia (Asean).
“Comparing the lifecycle emissions of ICE vehicles and the newer, high-performance EVs can be a difficult exercise, as it all depends on the assumptions made,” Chiang said. Work time. For example, these assumptions also involve the amount of waste that the automakers had already produced during their manufacture, the type of resource-intensive mining that was done to procure the raw materials, as well as the recycling of the batteries. VE when used up. .
Electric vehicles could turn into unexpected energy vampires. Assuming that each private car drives an average of 52 km per day, electric vehicles will need about 10.4 kilowatts per hour (kWh) of electricity each day. This translates to roughly 10 times the power needed to run a refrigerator for a full day or to keep an air conditioner on for seven hours.
And according to Soo Han Sen, an assistant professor in the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, the use of electric vehicles only shifts carbon emissions from cars to power plants. “If we are to be more sustainable, the most fundamental change is that our electricity production should also come from renewables, which still evolve slowly,” says Professor Soo.
The professor’s home country is Singapore, the small island state that is the perfect setting for a thriving smart city, with its proportions the size of a city, comparable population size and access to solutions. focused on innovation that can improve urban systems and citizens’ quality of life.
But Singapore is still largely powered by fossil fuels, with around 95% of the energy supplied by natural gas, the rest being a mixture of coal, oil, municipal waste and solar energy. But the city-state plans to reduce its carbon production and adopt sustainable and low-energy solutions by 2030, as part of the SG’s Green Plan 2030.
The plan is expected to help reduce some amount of carbon production as well as the way resources are used in Singapore, where resources are scarce. the extraction and production of EV batteries has also been linked to heavy mining and resource use, so observers suggest that in order to properly shift to sustainable transport for the smart city of tomorrow, battery-powered cars must replace those with internal combustion engines. , while battery technology and its energy sources need to be cleaner.
While reducing private transport overall would be more beneficial for the environment, replacing traditional cars while switching taxis and other passenger vehicles to electricity will result in dramatic improvements in emission rates.
The country is also developing its own solar energy capacities while tapping into the renewable energy grids of its neighbors. like Malaysia, which has extensive access to hydropower. The use of renewable energy sources will result in cleaner energy production and therefore be even more efficient than reducing the carbon production of vehicles.