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Electric cars are, on a basic level, more environmentally friendly than cars that run on fossil fuels, but there are areas where electric cars have a major environmental impact. One is the energy consumption in battery production. However, a new study from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden shows that this impact decreases significantly with large-scale production.
In fact, many of the studies that show a large environmental impact are based on data from small-scale production. But when the researchers from Chalmers studied large-scale production, the picture became different.
"Our results show how an upscaling of battery production to the gigawatt level results in significant reductions in energy use per kilowatt hour of battery storage capacity produced - up to 58 percent. The efficiency gains with large-scale production are significant", says Mudit Chordia, a researcher at Chalmers and lead author of the new study, in a press release.
And of course, it's also important how the electricity used in the factories is produced. But even though much of the electricity comes from coal, as in South Korea, emissions are still reduced by almost 45 percent in large-scale production. If the electricity comes from renewable sources, such as in Northvolt's new factory in Skellefteå, emissions will be reduced by a further 55 percent.
The researchers point out that companies must continue to work with the rest of the supply chain.
"In order to further reduce the environmental impact of battery production, manufacturers and the entire battery industry must make a focused effort to procure raw materials from suppliers with low carbon dioxide emissions from mineral extraction. But in such a competitive industry, this will remain a challenge for many players", says Anders Nordelöf, researcher at Chalmers and co-author of the study.