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Electromobility: opportunities and threats.

In the context of environmental protection and the fight against CO2 emissions, electromobility is becoming increasingly common. However, like any technology, it brings with it both opportunities and risks. In this article, we address the environmental and operational factors affecting its assessment.

In recent years, electromobility has become a key topic in the context of climate change and environmental protection. Batteries are mainly used in small passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles. Battery-powered electric buses are also being tested in Polish cities such as Kraków, Gdańsk, and Warsaw. Some companies are using, mainly for testing purposes, electric trucks. In this case, however, there are doubts about the advisability of using battery drives. The large size and weight of the batteries have a negative impact on the loading capacity of the vehicles. In addition, the charging infrastructure and its duration are issues that require further investment and development. What other environmental and vehicle operation challenges are associated with the use of these solutions? What risks and opportunities associated with their use can be identified in these two contexts?

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Risks associated with electromobility

Environmental factors:

  • Unethical exploitation of raw materials: Exploitation of raw materials required for battery production may involve unethical extraction of hard-to-reach, dwindling resources.
  • High post-mining damage: mining processes for raw materials for batteries can cause significant post-mining damage, pollution, and destruction of the landscape.
  • High CO2 emissions from metallurgical processes: metallurgical processes used to extract primary raw materials for battery production generate high CO2 emissions.
  • Use of energy from conventional sources: In most regions, the energy used to charge batteries is still from conventional sources, which contributes to CO2 emissions.
  • High battery production costs: The production of advanced batteries can generate high costs, which affects the price of electric vehicles.

Operational factors:

  • Undeveloped charging infrastructure: In many countries, including Poland, the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles leaves much to be desired, which hinders the use of electromobility.
  • Long charging times: The process of charging the battery takes time, which is a limitation compared to the refuelling speed of combustion vehicles.
  • Short range of passenger cars: Electric cars tend to have a lower range compared to traditional motor vehicles, which can be a handicap on long journeys; their range also decreases due to unstable, dynamic driving.
  • High battery weight: Batteries are heavy, which affects the weight of the vehicle, which in turn can have a negative impact on performance and energy consumption.
  • Decrease in battery life: Batteries have a limited lifespan, which means they need to be replaced after a certain period of use.
  • Risk of battery fire: Although rare, there is a risk of a battery fire, which requires special safety measures and special high-efficiency extinguishing methods.

Opportunities associated with electromobility

Environmental factors:

  • Zero CO2 and toxin emissions: The operation of electric vehicles produces no CO2 or toxin emissions, which is a huge plus for the environment.
  • Renewable energy sources for charging stations: The ability to use renewable energy sources to power charging stations contributes to reducing the environmental footprint.
  • Quiet, noise-free driving: Electric vehicles are much quieter than internal combustion vehicles, reducing traffic noise.
  • Tremendous battery recyclability: Batteries can be fully recycled, enabling 98% recovery of recyclable materials.
  • Low CO2 emissions from recycling processes: Battery recycling processes generate significantly lower CO2 emissions compared to primary raw material production processes.
  • New, environmentally friendly lithium extraction methods: Innovative methods of lithium extraction, such as from thermal waters, contribute to the ecological development of the industry.
  • Ethical sourcing passports: Designations of ethical sourcing practices, such as passports, are becoming the industry standard.

Operational factors:

  • Quiet ride and high passenger comfort: Electric vehicles offer a quieter ride, which translates into higher travel comfort.
  • Uncomplicated vehicle design and reduced failure rates: The simple design of electric vehicles, consisting of fewer parts, contributes to their lower failure rate.
  • Possibility to enter special zones and use BUS lanes: Electric vehicles can enjoy various privileges, such as entering clean transport zones and using BUS lanes.
  • Operating costs: Despite higher purchase costs, electric vehicles can be cheaper to operate due to lower fuel costs and fewer necessary repairs.
  • Intensive development of new technologies: The electromobility industry is intensively developing new technologies, improving range, safety, and battery life.

In response to the challenges of electromobility, the industry is working hard on innovative solutions to address the disadvantages and risks. Key activities to contribute to the further development of this form of transport are:

  • Developing battery technology: Engineers are focusing on improving battery technology, aiming to increase battery density and durability as well as charging speed. New types of batteries, such as quantum batteries or those based on magnesium, have the potential to significantly improve the energy performance of electric vehicles.
  • Charging infrastructure: In order to eliminate the problems of undeveloped infrastructure, investments in new charging stations are being made, especially in Poland. Expanding the network of fast and super-fast chargers is becoming a priority in order to reduce battery top-up times and increase convenience for users.
  • Use of renewable energy: The use of renewable energy sources to power charging stations is becoming standard. This reduces the ecological footprint of electromobility, eliminating the CO2 emissions associated with energy production.
  • Battery recycling: Innovative battery recycling methods allow raw materials to be sourced more efficiently and ethically. At the same time, systems are being developed to prevent batteries from being discarded and to ensure a complete, closed loop.
  • Development of lightweight materials: work on new lightweight construction materials is reducing the weight of electric vehicles, resulting in increased efficiency and range.
  • Intelligent energy management systems: The introduction of intelligent energy management systems can help to better adapt to peaks in demand and optimise energy distribution, which in turn affects the efficiency of the overall electromobility system.
  • Battery safety: Battery safety is becoming an area of particular interest. Companies are conducting crash tests, developing new cooling systems, and controlling production processes to minimise the risk of fire and increase the overall safety of electric vehicle use.
  • Awareness and education: Promoting awareness and education about the benefits of electromobility, but also its challenges, contributes to building a positive public attitude. Encouraging the use of clean modes of transport can stimulate the development of this field.

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Summary

Electromobility is becoming a key part of the future of transport, offering solutions to protect the environment and reduce CO2 emissions. In the context of this transition, Endego plays an important role as an excellent business partner for companies seeking to make the transition to electromobility.

With more than 10 years’ experience in the automotive industry, we can offer the support of our qualified specialists in designing or adapting vehicles to the new propulsion sources. At the same time, thanks to our access to Altair’s specialised programmes, we can support companies in ensuring the safety of such vehicles. Through crash tests, simulations, and accurate calculations, ensuring safety becomes much simpler and contributes to the elimination of barriers associated with the operation of electric vehicles.

As a business partner, Enedego offers comprehensive support, providing not only assistance from automotive specialists but also safety, education, and innovative technology solutions. Electromobility is not only becoming a viable alternative but also a strategic step towards a sustainable transport future.

The drive for electromobility contributes to the global fight against climate change. Take up this challenge and write to us to find out how we can support your project.

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