Wie öko ist ein Elektroauto wirklich?


Petrol and diesel cars have been rightly criticised. They are noisy and smelly and they release
large quantities of harmful substances which are detrimental to climate and
environment and they damage our health. The alternative is clear: electric vehicles (EVs). But as German automotive companies have
missed out on entry into the EV market, increasing criticism has been heaped on the electric car. Its environmental credentials are supposedly not very good and the German national grid is in any case not capable of handling a rapid expansion in the use of EVs. Even prominent Greens share this view. That’s reason enough to shed some light on this subject in a video and to clear up some prejudices. Energy Revolution and Climate Protection
with Professor Quaschning Not the best place to read a text book about mobility. Not only because it’s uncomfortable and loud, but because you’re on the receiving end of large quantities
of fumes which are dangerous to your health. Here, however, I can remove my
breathing mask with confidence, because, as I’m not yet tired of life,
we’ve left the engine off for these scenes. And because this kind of breathing mask would in any case not be
of much use against most of the exhaust and harmful substances. The voices of automotive companies and
their political supporters are growing. They say that we shouldn’t overstate
the problem of exhaust fumes. The diesel car is after all an iconic German
product. We shouldn’t demonise it. But is the discussion around emissions really
green madness, or is there something in it? To find out, let’s just take a closer look at the facts. The quantity of emissions from internal
combustion engines (ICEs) is enormous. And if we take a look at the figures from the
Federal Office for the Environment, we can see the gigantic quantities of carbon dioxide, nitric
oxide, particulates, or carbon monoxide which are released into the environment. And many of these harmful substances are far from healthy. We know that some of these substances cause serious illnesses: lung disease, heart attacks, and strokes. The problem is of course, that when
someone has a heart attack, we don’t know whether overwork or
motor vehicles were the cause. But there are studies and investigations, for
example, one from the Max-Planck Society which estimates that there are around
7,000 deaths in Germany every year which are caused by harmful
substances from road traffic. That means that you’re twice as likely to
die from your exhaust pipe than you are in a road traffic accident. We should consider this. The downplaying
of these figures is anything but advisable. An electric car has no exhaust and therefore absolutely no exhaust
fumes are emitted when driving. However, an electric car does
have to be charged, of course. And whether, when taking everything into
consideration, harmful substances, exhaust fumes or even climate-
damaging CO2 are a consequence, is of course dependent on
where the electricity originates. So, let’s take a closer look at the carbon footprint. First, let’s consider a diesel vehicle. If this vehicle uses 6.5 litres over 100 km 172 grams of CO2 per km will be produced from the exhaust. On the other hand, we have the electric car. If the electric car uses 15 kWh per
100 km, which is an average amount, then it depends where the electricity originates. If the EV is charged with electricity originating
from a brown coal power station, an old plant then that can indeed produce 1.1 kg of CO2 per kWh. That amounts to 165 grams of CO2 per kilometre and isn’t really better than the diesel vehicle. Luckily, in Germany we’re not limited
to just brown coal power stations. We have an electricity source mix, in which gas or renewable
energy already comprise large parts of the energy mix. So, that puts us on average at
around 0.53 kg CO2 per kWh. and therefore with the electric car,
using a mix of energy sources, we can reckon with around 80 grams of CO2 per kilometre which is significantly better than the diesel vehicle. Then there’s also the possibility of choosing
a green energy supplier in Germany, or of charging the car with a solar array, and in that case, we’re completely carbon neutral. That means it’s already possible today to drive CO2 free, namely with an electric car, charged with renewable energy. Many newspapers recently have brought attention
to the energy used during the manufacture of EVs. This is supposedly catastrophic, so that
it’s hardly worth buying electric cars. Certainly, an electric car is heavier than a
comparable petrol or diesel vehicle. That is fundamentally down to the battery. An electric car contains a lithium battery similar
to this lithium battery in my phone but in a completely different size. We do, after all, want to be able to travel a few kilometres. and therefore many kilograms of batteries are of course
generally placed here at the base of the vehicle. Depending on the study, the manufacture of such a battery produces
between 50 and 200 kg of CO2 per kWh of battery capacity. However, on the other hand, many studies ignore
reductions to be had from an electric car. We need far fewer replacement parts, we
don’t need to change the exhaust pipe, no gears, no oil change. That means, all these points no longer apply and
can again positively offset the CO2 footprint. Even if we work on the basis of the least
favourable values from the studies, taking an average electric car such as the
Nissan LEAF, it takes around three years or 30,000 kilometres of driving for
the reductions to compensate for the CO2 emissions created during
the manufacture of the vehicle. Taking a car with a considerably larger capacity battery,
like the Tesla, it can indeed take 80,000 km or more, where we’re assuming a battery lifespan
of 160-200,000 km or even more. That means, the carbon footprint is indeed positive. If the battery is recycled at the end of the vehicle’s
life, the footprint improves still further. According to Tesla, the energy used for the manufacture of the
batteries originates in any case from renewable energy sources, at least at the plant in the USA. And then the carbon footprint is of course inconsequential. It is completely neutral. Then there are still others who believe that the German power
grid would collapse if we were all to charge electric cars. We can do a quick example calculation. If we were to actually move the whole fleet of vehicles over to EVs, electricity consumption in Germany
would increase by around 20 percent. Germany is also the largest electricity exporter in Europe. If we were to use the exported electricity
domestically for the charging of EVs, with that energy alone we could convert a third of the fleet. The question which then naturally follows is
what if all cars were to charge simultaneously? Wouldn’t the power grid collapse? The answer is yes, of course it would. But what would happen if everyone plugged in their hairdryers? The power grid would collapse in that case too.
You can try that. Agree to switch on hairdryers across
Germany at 20:00 one Friday evening. I can guarantee, the lights wouldn’t go out just in
Germany, but across the whole of Europe as a result. That means that it is of course important that
we charge intelligently, distribute the load and also increase the capacity of the grid in places. Times change. Not too long ago, we used to fuel up cars at chemists. Today, that’s unimaginable. And our children won’t
be able to imagine that we once spent ages at fuel pumps, with smelly fingers pouring petrol and diesel into cars. This will soon all be a thing of the past. And that’s why it’s important for Germany to
try to get its act together and to play its part, because Asia and China are very much ahead
and it is clearly the future technology. There is already no reason not to buy an electric car today. The environmental footprint is positive. So don’t be unsettled by negative news reports in
newspapers, or from automotive manufacturers when it comes to matters of environmental sustainability. Take a look, and if you like the look of a car, go for it. It is the future and you’re doing some good for the environment. And on that bombshell, that’s it for today. If you enjoyed the video, please like or subscribe to the
channel, so that you don’t miss any future videos. Bye! Until next time! Presented by Prof. Dr. Volker Quaschning
University of Applied Sciences for Engineering and Economics, Berlin English subtitles by John Chivers