Environmental aspect of Electric Vehicle : This is how clear environmentally friendly EV really is 2023
Why Electric Vehicle environment friendly? The climate debate is omnipresent and not without reason. In particular, CO2 emissions must be drastically reduced in the future in order to slow down global warming. Among other things, this goal is to be pursued by the transport and energy transition.
Conversely, this means switching to electric mobility, ideally supplemented by the use of renewable energies.
Unfortunately, however, there is currently a lot of different information about the sustainability of electric cars, which leave a great deal of uncertainty. Therefore, today we take a closer look at the environmental aspect of electric cars and clarify three particularly important factors with regard to EV : emissions, the electricity mix and battery production. Because these provide information about how environmentally friendly driving electric cars really is.
Direct emissions from electric vehicles
A crucial aspect with regard to the carbon footprint of cars is their pollutant emissions. For combustion engines, the carbon footprint is particularly poor because they produce an extremely large number of emissions. Electric cars, on the other hand, are usually referred to as “emission-free” because, unlike cars with internal combustion engines, they do not generate exhaust gases and thus no direct emissions.
In terms of direct emissions, electric cars are thus far superior to conventional combustion engines and have a significantly better environmental balance than conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles. In addition, electric cars are not only greener, but also relieve cities in particular in terms of fine dust and noise. Electromobility significantly increases the quality of life, especially in urban areas.
The electricity mix decides
The second factor that must therefore be considered with regard to the environmental aspect of electric cars is the electricity mix. Since electric cars are powered by electricity, the energy source of electricity determines how environmentally friendly you really travel with the Stromer all in all. Because both the electricity used to manufacture the electric car and the electricity mix used to charge the vehicle influence its environmental friendliness. These factors thus have a great influence on whether an electric vehicle performs better in the climate balance than a combustion engine.
The background to this is that power plants certainly emit greenhouse gases when providing the charging current. In any case, whenever fossil fuels are used. So if you do not fill up your electric car with electricity from a “green source”, the climate balance automatically deteriorates because CO2 emissions are generated during the production of coal electricity or gas.
When charging with electricity from the public power grid – for example, at private wall boxes, wall boxes at the workplace or at public charging stations – you should always find out about the electricity provided there and its form of extraction in order to charge your car as environmentally friendly as possible. When using grid power, you as a consumer can influence the electricity mix, for example by choosing a green electricity provider or by combining your photovoltaic system with electricity from the green provider for residual electricity demand.
The good news: Around half of the electricity in Germany now comes from renewable energies. Therefore, electric cars are already driving significantly more climate-friendly than combustion vehicles with the current German electricity mix. In addition, the share of renewable energies in the German electricity mix will continue to increase in the next few years and the charging of an electric vehicle will thus become steadily more environmentally friendly.
Do you already own or are you planning to purchase a solar system? In this case, you can charge your electric car directly via the in-house wallbox and recharge your own clean solar energy. This makes you a big pioneer in the field of sustainable e-mobility.
In particular, the battery production for electric cars is repeatedly criticized. Because battery production is not yet optimal in terms of energy expenditure and raw material use and still offers optimization potential. Fortunately, significant improvements are already expected in terms of both material efficiency and energy use and initial progress is being made.
The battery of an electric car is not only the most expensive, but unfortunately also the most environmentally harmful component of the vehicle. Since in the producing countries the energy for the production of this also comes from coal and oil combustion, CO2 is emitted. Here it is important to create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative in the future.
If renewable electricity is used to produce the batteries, CO2 emissions are reduced by around half and can thus make a significant contribution to improving the life cycle assessment of electric vehicles. For this reason, the trend of the large vehicle manufacturers is also increasingly developing towards (battery) production within Europe.
In addition to CO2 emissions, the use of scarce raw materials is another criticism in the production of batteries. In the most common cases, this is lithium for the production of lithium-ion batteries. The extraction of lithium largely takes place in South America and has been heavily criticized for some time for its consequences for the environment. Because this leads to increasing drought there.
Fortunately, alternative extraction methods are already being researched for the extraction of lithium, which is also used for the electricity storage of solar systems. In the future, lithium will also be mined in Germany in order to make production more sustainable and shorten transport routes. In addition, battery recycling and an extended service life should also improve the life cycle assessment of the batteries.
Solar system and electric car – efficient, sustainable and cost-saving
Refueling electric cars with solar power from your own roof of the house is not only easy, but also cost-effective and environmentally friendly. That’s why more and more EV drivers are now also among the owners of a photovoltaic system.
Both the enormous cost savings and the environmentally conscious nature of mobility often play a role in the decision. Regardless of which of the two aspects mainly supports the decision – the combination pays off twice in all cases. If you have your own ecological footprint in mind and want to make your own life more sustainable, you rely on renewable energies.
Charging at public charging stations is not necessarily also based on renewable energies. On the contrary, a electricity mix is often offered, the largest share of which often comes from the fossil sector. In order to really drive with 100% green electricity, homeowners play it safe with their own solar system.
The financial advantage of the combination of solar system and electric car also convinces many homeowners. Refueling is no cheaper than with the in-house solar power – and this does not only benefit the environment.
Up to 40 cents costs a kilowatt hour of electricity from the public charging station. Refuel your electric car with your mains power, you pay an average of 31.89 cents per kilowatt hour. With your own solar system, you can refuel the kilowatt hour of electricity for only 8-10 cents. A cost difference that quickly becomes noticeable in your wallet.
“refuel” your own Electric Vehicle with the solar system
Especially in the field of EV, a lot has happened to promote the coupling of electric cars and photovoltaic systems. This greatly increases the comfort for e-car-car-caring homeowners, since a public charging station no longer has to be visited to charge, but the vehicle can be conveniently “fueled” in your own garage. And even with sustainable solar power. With an electric car and a suitable wallbox, the share of self-consumption can finally be increased, money saved and environmentally conscious mobility can be lived.
Of course, this increases the energy demand in your own home enormously. The correct planning and design of the solar system are therefore essential in order not to have to buy more electricity from the grid in the end. Solar experts therefore ask for planned acquisitions in the consultation in order to anticipate potential additional consumption and to plan plants sensibly in the long term.
How does charging an Electric Vehicle with a PV surplus work?
In theory, there are three different ways to drink an electric car with electricity in your own garage or carport. Depending on the components installed, however, not all three are always available.
Variant 1: On the one hand, it is possible to charge the car by means of a PV surplus alone. This variant does not require additional grid connection, but also requires sufficient excess power from the solar system to operate the minimum charging current of the vehicle. If there is not enough energy left over from the solar system, the car will not be charged until there is enough excess electricity again.
Variant 2: The second option consists of a combined use of PV surplus and grid reference. After the electricity consumers in the household are supplied, the electric car is charged with the remaining solar power.
If there is not enough electricity to achieve the minimum charging power, electricity is obtained from the grid. Everything that goes beyond the minimum charging current is charged exclusively with PV surplus. Although you are not 100% self-sufficient, you can ensure that the car is constantly charged.
In variant 3, the priority is to charge the vehicle quickly. Depending on the wallbox and the connected vehicle, the maximum charging power is used to load the electric car with energy from the PV system and from the grid. No consideration is given to other consumers, so that all available solar power is first used and then the rest is filled with mains power.
Different possibilities of compatible systems
Which product is suitable for installation in your own home ultimately depends on your own wishes or the components already installed.
For example, if you own or plan to purchase an E3/DC domestic power plant, the choice of wallbox should fall on the product from the same company to ensure compatibility. The E3/DC wallbox can be operated in one or three phases, always charging three-phase, provided that the car is designed for this. Both charging in solar mode and mixed mode are possible.
These two charging modes correspond to the pre-explained variants one and three, i.e. charging with exclusively PV surplus or the full power of PV and mains power. Especially for homeowners who commute daily with their car and depend on charging it at night, this is a good option, as the vehicle can also be charged from the storage at night or in emergency power mode.
However, the prerequisite for this is a sufficient discharge performance of the battery, which is guaranteed on all E3/DC models, with the exception of the battery system 6.5.
An alternative to this system is the combination of MENNEKES Wallbox and an SMA inverter. A minimum charging capacity of 4.1 kilowatts is required. If this is met, vehicles with type 2 plugs can be connected. A great advantage of this option is the flexibility in controlling the charge. On the one hand, an app allows you to adjust the load manually.
On the other hand, it can be monitored with the Sunny Home Manager. This system also allows charging with pure PV surplus and charging according to energy requirements and time slots. Here, the car sets the charging current itself, so that it is charged by this amount in a certain time window.
Thanks to an intelligent system, forecasts can also be made on the basis of weather data and history when there is a particularly large amount of solar surplus. If this period matches the set time window, it will then be loaded prioritized exactly at these times.
A third variant is the SMA EV Charger. The special feature of this system is that it can automatically switch between single-phase and three-phase charging, so that an electric car can be charged from as little as 1.3 kilowatts of PV surplus.
How electric car becomes an electricity storage ?
In order to act as a power storage device, the electric car must be equipped with a bidirectional chargeable battery. These batteries can not only absorb power, but also return it if necessary. This requires a cable that is able to quickly transport large amounts of electricity.
The Japanese, as well as Tesla, use the so-called CHAdeMO connection, which allows charging capacities of more than 50 kW. The charging stadium must therefore be equipped with a DC charger. In short: In addition to the electric car, all other components, such as the wallbox, charging cable and plug, must support smart grid technology.
In Japan, Mitsubishi’s electric vehicles are already successfully supplying households with electricity for washing machines, dryers and refrigerators. Mitsubishi is working to further perfect the system.
For example, an external battery should act as an additional small charging unit between the battery of the electric car and the household power connection. In addition, it should be precisely controlled how much electricity remains in the electric car and how much may be consumed for the household.
Electric car as electricity storage and photovoltaic system – the perfect duo
If you have your own photovoltaic system, the electric car is particularly interesting as an electricity storage system. The times of lavish subsidies are more or less over and the electricity from the grid is expensive.
Specifically, green electricity from the grid today costs you almost three times more than you receive for your fed-in electricity. And an end to the price spiral is far from in sight. It is worthwhile not to feed the electricity into the public grid in the first place, but to consume or store it yourself and then gradually use it.
If you are planning to purchase an electric car, it is therefore particularly worthwhile to include smart grid technology in your considerations from the outset. In the long term, this technology is likely to prove profitable. This is especially true if there is the option of integrating additional electricity storage into the Vehicle to Home Grid. Mitsubishi is already planning to offer a corresponding system in Germany in the future.
On the road with a bidirectional chargeable battery
On the go, electric vehicle with a bidirectionally chargeable battery also offer some advantages. For example, electric cars have the opportunity to provide roadside assistance to each other. If the two batteries can be connected to each other by means of a CHAdeMO cable, the empty battery is filled to such an extent that the stranded electric car reaches the next charging station.
The German start-up company Sono Motors has also equipped its Sion with a bidirectional chargeable battery. Unfortunately, the small electric vehicle, which in addition to the electricity storage option of the battery even brings some of its own solar cells, is still not on the market.
If you go camping, you are in the fortunate situation of supplying yourself with electricity. If the electric car also brings its own solar cells, such as the Sion, you will also receive your electricity for lukewarm – at least in summer. Camping is really fun.
Once the legal requirements have been created, there is not only the option of consuming the stored electricity yourself. The cached electricity could then also be fed to the public grid. Thus, the Vehicle to Grid variant opens up a variety of attractive possibilities and would also significantly stabilize the public power grid.