No, you’re not saving the environment by driving a Tesla
Tesla, considered by many to be the Apple of the auto industry, announced its “affordable” Model 3 vehicle on Friday, and the entire internet lost its collective spirit. The car is also going to be sold in India, and many people in India have written enthusiastic articles as well.
There’s no denying that the Tesla Model 3 is an engineering marvel with stellar safety features. The futuristic vehicle can go from 0 to 60 mph (about 0 to 100 km/h) in six seconds. The car does it all, without sipping a single drop of fossil fuel. It is undoubtedly impressive. It’s promising to see how such a car can steer us away from crude oil addiction. It’s no wonder, then, that Tesla cars are seen as the most promising alternative to conventional automobiles. The problem arises when people start hailing electric cars as a gift from God for the environment. For example, many Tesla supporters strongly believe that these cars will save us from uncontrollable pollution and the depletion of natural resources.
Although this is a powerful notion, it is also a very naïve idea. Our country’s Energy Minister, Piyush Goyal, announced earlier that India aims to become a nation of 100% electric vehicles by 2030. It’s cute how a nation with a perpetual shortage of electricity wants to power expensive cars. Instead of getting into politics, we should also ask ourselves how eco-friendly this decision really is.
(Also see: What Tesla Model 3’s Stellar Pre-Order Numbers Mean for the Planet)
Origin of electricity?
On the surface, Tesla cars are green because they don’t emit toxic gases. These cars run on electricity, so you are not involved in killing the environment by using fossil fuels. The car is expensive, but you pay the price to save nature, right? Well, that all sounds good, as long as you don’t care where all that electricity is coming from. Contrary to what Tesla supporters believe, electricity is not harvested from unicorns. In most countries, including the United States, the majority of electricity is generated by burning coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.
Here is the latest power outage in the United States:
See the two big red ones over there? These represent coal and natural gas.
Similarly, here is what things look like in India:
The huge red piece represents the percentage of coal burned to generate electricity. The lighter shade of red shows our dependence on natural gas to generate electricity. For now, the Tesla you’re driving isn’t going to save the environment. Even if you charge your car at home using renewable energy, every time you use a public charging station you are drawing electricity from the grid, and that means fossil fuels, as shown in the table below. above.
So unless you have installed solar panels or a wind turbine to charge your Tesla, you are not saving the environment. In fact, as we all know, when energy is transformed from one form to another, or moved from one place to another, there is some loss of energy. In this case, part of the energy is lost during the production of electricity as well as its distribution via the cables. Again, there is a loss of energy when electrical energy is transformed into kinetic energy to set the vehicle in motion.
Another thing worth mentioning is the vampire draw. According to the Tesla Owner’s Manual, the Tesla Model S battery discharges 1% per day. To put that into perspective, let’s say your car has about 100 liters of fuel in it (I know it doesn’t, but let’s keep the math simple) – even if no one drives it for a month, 30 liters of gasoline would disappear at that time frequency! Reviewers say the actual drain is 3% or more.
So, although the Tesla doesn’t pollute directly by burning fossil fuels in the engine, it still contributes to pollution, and because energy is wasted to get to the car, and because it continues to waste even inside the car, the impact on the environment is far from utopian, and will only be so when the electrical network itself moves away from polluting methods.
Lithium ion batteries
On its “About Us” page, Tesla Motors states, “By 2020, the gigafactory (battery factory) will produce more lithium-ion cells than all of the world’s combined production in 2013.” Although it may seem like lithium-ion batteries are kind of a pancake, many people think otherwise. Research conducted by the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that lithium batteries have the highest potential for environmental impacts. This includes global warming, resource depletion, ecological toxicity and impact on human health.
Another US organization, the National Bureau of Economic Research, concluded last year that electric cars could be worse for the environment than conventional cars.
Chandrakant Isi has been covering all things tech for over 10 years. He’s a sci-fi buff, aspiring space explorer, and content manager at MySmartPrice.com
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, adequacy or validity of the information contained in this article. All information is provided as is. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV assumes no responsibility or liability for them.
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