Do electric cars cause pollution?

Reduced pollution is among the many advantages of electric cars: they are better for the environment than all the other alternatives currently on the market, because they are the only technology that totally eliminates local nitrogen oxide (NOx) and fine particulate matter (PM) emissions. This translates into cleaner air, reduced impact on health, and lower medical costs. As well, electric cars are quiet: by cutting noise pollution, they improve quality of life.


Currently in Italy, 33% of the power supply comes from renewables. This means that the estimated “well to wheel” emissions of an electric car are about 70% lower than those of a gas vehicle and about half those of a methane vehicle. 


So the short answer to the question of whether or not electric cars pollute the environment is “a lot less than gas or hybrid cars”.

How electric cars reduce pollution?


Electric car pollution will decrease even more as the world moves towards decarbonized power generation — a scenario that is forecasted to become a reality by 2050. When that happens, electric cars will run on energy that is entirely produced from renewables and completely free from CO2 emissions. In other words, “well to wheel” emissions for electric cars will be approximately zero.


Another issue is electric car battery pollution. While regulations and systems for automotive battery recycling, reuse and disposal are in their infancy, Europe has placed sustainable battery technology at the heart of its strategic research agenda. The idea is for the entire life cycle of the batteries — from raw materials to end use — to become waste-free.


Enel X Way experts estimate that by 2025 in Europe, we will be able to reuse 26 GWh worth of batteries. In Italy by 2030, we expect to recycle 60,000 tons of batteries a year.

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