Petrol Versus Battery: Which Is Cleaner?

Sun 28th Feb 2021

Is battery power really a more environmentally friendly option than combustible engines? Well according to analysis from Transport & Environment there is one clear winner.

The research from the influential think-tank has found that vehicles that burn fossil fuels for energy waste much more raw materials than electric cars. So while an EV will use only 30kg of raw material over the course of a battery’s lifetime, a petrol engine will have used 17,000 litres of oil. In fact lithium battery options are not just less wasteful for materials, they also have better energy efficiency, are more affordable, and are also emitting zero exhaust emissions of carbon dioxide.

And while petrolheads may argue that an increase in electric vehicles will require more mineral mining for elements such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, it still hardly compares to the environmental impact of drilling for oil.

“When it comes to raw materials there is simply no comparison. Over its lifetime, an average fossil-fuel car burns the equivalent of a stack of oil barrels, 25 storeys high,” said Lucien Mathieu, transport and e-mobility analyst at T&E. “If you take into account the recycling of battery materials, only around 30kg of metals would be lost: roughly the size of a football.

“This is a far cry from the current situation where Europe’s car fleet is almost entirely dependent on crude oil imports. Increased battery efficiency and recycling will leave the EU significantly less dependent on imports for raw materials than it is for oil.”