11:59 09.01.2018 - Максим Ратников
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электромобиль
© Общественное достояние

Recently electric vehicles certified for commercial transportation of passengers appeared on the streets of London. Capable of driving about 129 kilometers on a single charge, these vehicles fully satisfy the zero-emission requirement for new taxicabs, which the authorities of the British capital introduced on January 1, 2018. It is believed that this step will help improve the environmental situation in the third largest megacity in Europe. However, as «Forpost» found out, most scientists do not share the established opinion that thanks to electric cars, we will be able to breathe purer air.

Incomplete and non-uniform combustion of fuel is one of the main causes of environmental pollution. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, suspended particles, lead and other dangerous substances are emitted into the atmosphere from the exhaust pipe of the vehicle. This leads to environmental degradation, global warming, and numerous diseases.

It is believed that a remedy for this situation may be a ban on the use of vehicles running on traditional internal combustion engines and the wide-scale introduction of electric vehicles. To this end, many advanced countries have developed government programs to support their production. For example, Germany adopted it in 2011. According to this document, the number of cars with electric batteries by 2020 should be brought up to a million, and by 2030 – up to six million.

According to statistics in early 2017, there were more than 2 million electric vehicles in the world. And this figure has doubled in about 6 months. Such increased demand is stimulated by the release of citizens from paying taxes on vehicles, creating special parking spaces and allocated lanes. Huge funds are allocated for the development of batteries and the creation of infrastructure for their recharging. For example, just the first stage of construction of a fast-charging station for electric vehicles on the busy German A8 highway in the industrial zone of Swabia, between Ulm and Augsburg, cost 15 million euro. Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of Germany plans to invest another 300 million in the creation of a trade infrastructure.

The development of the market of electric vehicles provokes a rise in prices for lithium and cobalt, which are used in the production of batteries. The cost of these metals has doubled over the past two years and is likely to continue to grow. Experts predict that annually, at least until 2021, lithium sales will increase by 35%. And the demand for cobalt will increase 4.5 times by 2025.

"In fact, electric vehicles consume about 1.5 times more so-called dirty energy resources than cars with an internal combustion engine," – says the rector of the Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko. – Yes, they do not throw carbon dioxide into the atmosphere but are charged from an electrical outlet. But where does the electricity come from? It is produced at power plants that burn oil, gas or coal. Due to the wide-scale introduction of electric vehicles, consumption of electricity will increase significantly. This means that the power plants will burn much more primary raw materials, hence, polluting the environment on a much larger scale. It’s just the emissions will occur not where the car is located, but somewhere else. "

Владимир Литвиненко
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко

Many scientists are convinced that the electric vehicles indirectly contribute to the further contamination of the planet. In any case, it will take dirty raw materials, including coal, for a sharp increase in generating enough electricity to provoke a wide-scale introduction of a new type of transport. Assuming that every driver will switch to an electric car "on the spot", much more raw materials than today will have to burn.

"Electric vehicles are pure commercial fraud," said Mikhail Kovalchuk, president of the Kurchatov Institute. "– We are buying the same environmentally malignant cars, only in a different wrapper and much more expensive. In the event that everyone is moved to electric vehicles, we will have to triple the generating capacity. At what cost? Apparently, due to coal. And we will all live like in Krasnoyarsk."

Михаил Ковальчук
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко

The conversation turned on this city not accidentally. Most recently, the chairman of the board of the CSR "North-West" Vladimir Knyaginin returned from there. He said there are environmentally critical conditions 56 days a year in Krasnoyarsk because local thermal power plants burn coal and the sky goes completely black. EMERCOM of Russia suggests residents stay at home and close the windows in the apartments. Such a picture can become habitual for many other cities in the event that sales of electric vehicles will be significantly multiplied. Nevertheless, the director of the Young Professionals Division of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), Dmitry Peskov, assures that sooner or later it will still happen:

"We may think that electric vehicles is a trickery anyway, but most of the major metropolitan areas of the world will switch to them in no longer than 20 years. This future is almost inevitable. A new cycle, which includes the extraction of lithium for batteries and the construction of infrastructure for their disposal has already been created. That will appear, whether we like it or not. We cannot deny the future only on the basis that we do not like it. The new is rapidly coming. It does not take away the old; it takes away the margin from it."

Песков
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад /

While electric vehicles occupy less than 0.2% of the total vehicle fleet of the planet (for comparison, the number of cars and trucks with internal combustion engines in the world reached 1.4 billion). But, judging by the rate of increase in demand, forecasts, which suggest that by 2020 the planet has to go for about 20 million electric cars, that is 10 times more than it is today, are quite realistic.

Meanwhile, the AUTOSTAT think tank has calculated that for 10 months of this year the volume of the Russian after-market of electric vehicles amounted to 815 units. It increased 3.5 times compared to the same period last year when 230 used electric vehicles were sold in the country.

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