DR E. GOOSEY
The production of a battery is highly impacting. They contain multiple elements, some of which are relatively rare. The mining impact of sourcing these metals is the most impacting part of the production. Though it is thought that once in operation within electric vehicles the benefits of zero emissions outweighs the impact from production. In addition if there are opportunities to extend the lifetime of a battery the production impacts can be further reduced.
However, many assessments take into consideration the use of sustainable energy, where as the reality, at present, is that the energy arises from oil, gas, nuclear and green energy in the UK. In the UK <20 % of energy is supplied from sustainable energy sources. Therefore, the energy supplied to electric vehicles is still impacting upon the environment. The RECHARGE project stated “A BATTERY IS AS GREEN AS THE ENERGY IT USES”.
A recent report from Ricardo noted that for production an electric car emits 8.8 tonnes eq.CO2 whilst a petrol vehicle produced 5.6 tonnes eq. CO2. Further environmental impacts are created during the recycling and disposal of batteries at end of life. Regulations require that no electric vehicle batteries are sent to landfill or incineration, leaving 100% to be collected and recycled. The recycling of a battery is highly impacting because of the numerous elements and materials used and the difficulty in their separation. In addition, electric vehicle batteries require discharging, dismantling, sorting and treatment prior to recycling, all of which takes energy.
There is a change in location from exhausts to the power plants, but there are still numerous impacts.
Reduction of environmental impacts can be achieved by longer usage durations. This is the major benefit of applications addressed by the VALUABLE project, which seeks to extend the lifetime of a battery beyond its first use to - end of useful life, via multiple reuse cycles.
The reuse of batteries is a new and evolving market, which can have positive impacts on both the environment and EU+UK economies. The development of markets for