Study: Tesla car battery production releases as much CO2 as 8 years of driving on petrol

Posted: June 19, 2017 by tallbloke in Accountability, Analysis, Big Green, Carbon cycle, Emissions, flames, greenblob

Tesla Model S – this is the only way you’ll keep warm in one during winter.


From NyTeknik:

Huge hopes tied to electric cars as the solution to automotive climate problem. But the electric car batteries are eco-villains in the production. Several tons of carbon dioxide has been placed, even before the batteries leave the factory.

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute was commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Energy Agency investigated litiumjonbatteriers climate impact from a life cycle perspective. There are batteries designed for electric vehicles included in the study. The two authors Lisbeth Dahllöf and Mia Romare has done a meta-study that is reviewed and compiled existing studies.

The report shows that the battery manufacturing leads to high emissions. For every kilowatt hour of storage capacity in the battery generated emissions of 150 to 200 kilos of carbon dioxide already in the factory. The researchers did not study individual bilmärkens batteries, how these produced or the electricity mix they use. But if we understand the great importance of play battery take an example: Two common electric cars on the market, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, the batteries about 30 kWh and 100 kWh.

Even when buying the car has thus emissions occurred, corresponding to approximately 5.3 tons and 17.5 tons, the batteries of these sizes. The numbers can be difficult to relate to. As a comparison, a trip for one person round trip from Stockholm to New York by air causes the release of more than 600 kilograms of carbon dioxide, according to the UN organization ICAO calculation.

Another conclusion of the study is that about half the emissions arising from the production of raw materials and half the production of the battery factory. The mining accounts for only a small proportion of between 10-20 percent.

Read more: “The potential electric car the main advantage”

The calculation is based on the assumption that the electricity mix used in the battery factory consists of more than half of the fossil fuels. In Sweden, the power production is mainly of fossil-nuclear and hydropower why lower emissions had been achieved.

The study also concluded that emissions grow almost linearly with the size of the battery, even if it is pinched by the data in that field. It means that a battery of the Tesla-size contributes more than three times as much emissions as the Nissan Leaf size. It is a result that surprised Mia Romare.

Full story
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Also at the Talkshop: Subsidizing electric vehicles inefficient way to reduce CO2 emissions: study

  1. John Munro says:

    Who financed the study?

  2. tallbloke says:

    You didn’t manage to get to the third line of the text before your knee jerked then John?

  3. JB says:

    My Swedish is very rusty, but the article sounded very much like the paranoiac obsession with CRT emissions I had to deal with in the early 90s that suddenly disappeared, long before flat LCDs became vogue. Whatever happened to those Swedish E/M standards they were whiplashing the display industry over?

    If the rest of the implied emissions in battery production happen to be commensurate with petro-fuels, I would say the biosphere is getting a net boost.

    But then, just how much real science is involved with a METAstudy? I think they still have a long way to go to make their case.

  4. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    No doubt, similar results would be revealed on studies of other ‘novelty’ energy sources – wind and solar.

  5. VDilbert says:

    How does this compare to the emissions of petrol production for a vehicle during its lifetime?

  6. The Badger says:

    So what? CO2 is not a problem. However I speculate that a “study” into how much CO2 would be saved by free abortion on demand would produce some VERY interesting results over a 100-200y projected timescale. Or how about a study into the potential CO2 mitigation benefits of banning the manufacture and sale of shiny and sparkly things that are not essential to living and are just ornamental. Like jewellery and bits of china and glass you stick in a cabinet.

  7. oldbrew says:

    New York Times 1982:
    ‘Now researchers report that termites, digesting vegetable matter on a global basis, produce more than twice as much carbon dioxide as all the world’s smokestacks.’

    There were ‘three quarters of a ton of termites for every person on earth.’ Who weighed them? 😉

  8. Catcracking says:

    Interesting study, I would like to see more verification. Reminds me of the California insane practice of importing green ethanol from Brazil versus using ethanol from corn which is not renewable. Meanwhile Brazil was importing Ethanol from the US TO RePLACE the exported ethanol. All this ignored the amount of fossil fuels required to ship the ethanol.
    Of course much of the electricity to run the battery powered car is produced from coal but the greenies never look at the entire energy picture because it is inconvenient.

  9. Scott K says:

    Interesting how it conveniently ignores the amount of energy used to create a combustion engine, and all of the parts needed for that powerplant.

  10. Dave Broadway says:

    I can drive 20 miles on the energy used to make one gallon of petrol. How does that factor in?

    The Tesla Gigafactory will be powered entirely by solar power it will have more capacity than all Li ion battery production in the world today. How does that factor in?

    The health costs of people forced to breathe particulates created by diesel amount to billions, and with hundreds of thousand of people dying as a result every year. How does that factor in?

    Big oil sponsors meant research programs. How does that factor in?

  11. Godber says:

    Your photo shows an enourmous fire eminating from the front trunk which is just an empty compartment. The only element in that area being the window wash fluid?? If this staged picture was trying to show imflamable batteries then you picked the wrong area …. they are all underneath. What did you do …. place a giant molitov cocktail in the frunk??

  12. tallbloke says:

    Godber: Have a read of some of the links you’ll find here:

    The image comes from this story:

    “A Washington driver of Tesla Motors’ electric Model S experienced a fire this week that is reportedly battery-related. According to The Detroit News, the driver — who remains unnamed for now — was traveling in his Model S southbound on state Route 167 through the Seattle suburb of Kent Tuesday when he hit a piece of metal debris on the freeway. He then exited the freeway, and the car became disabled right before he smelled something burning. The driver called the police, and firefighters arrived in 3 minutes. They had a hard time putting the fire out, as water seemed to reignite the flames. But once the front end of the vehicle was dismantled and a circular saw was used to cut an access hole in the front section, water was poured through punctured holes in the battery pack. After that, the fire was out.”

  13. Phil says:

    BS; et voici pourquoi.
    1- Ils ne tiennent compte que de la pollution lors du brûlage de l’essence et pas du 6kwh d’électricité qu’un gallon de pétrole consomme!
    Juste là, la balance change en faveur de la vé!

    2- Ils ne tiennent pas compte du fait que la batterie va servir pedant 20-25 ans! Alors que le pétrole brûlé en 8 ans restera brûlé.
    3- Ils ne tiennent pas compte du fait qu’après le 20-25 ans la batterie va être recyclé à 98%! Tandis que les 60,000 litres de pétrole qu’elle aura remplacer, eux, n’auront pas pu êtres recyclés. compte
    4- Ils font l’hypothèse absurde qu’elles sont produites utilisant à moitié des énergies vertes et l’autre moitié des energies fossiles MAIS VOILÀ: la giga factories va n’utiliser que des énergies vertes. Et 90% des nouveaux kw ajoutés dans le monde sont des renouvelables.

    Pas mal tanné de ces soi-disant analyses qui sont butchée

  14. Stein Ole Strand says:

    Just worth mentioning.
    The numbers in the article is based on emissions according to the manufacturer of the cars.
    Those number are based on the fuel consumption which we know can be up to 50% more in real world use compared to the NEDC lab result.
    And the numbers also doesn’t include the emission from making the fossile fuel.
    We all know that fossile fuel doesn’t appear by it self at the gas station, don’t we?

  15. Brad says:

    Sounds like Battery Envy

  16. tallbloke says:

    There is a need for two comparisons. Manufacture and usage.
    1) How much emission from internal combustion engine production compared to Tesla batteries?

    2) For sure there are emissions from oil based fuel production, and also from the charging of EVs.

    3) We should include Liquid Petroleum Gas in the study too.

  17. oldbrew says:

    Phil says – many things, but electricity has to come from somewhere to charge the battery.

    Unless the driver is in a country where all or most electricity is non-fossil produced (very few of those, to date), then electricity itself is only a percentage ‘green’. Likely to be below 20% in the vast majority of countries that don’t have lots of hydro-electric schemes, or lots of nuclear power (France).

    How many countries have so much ‘spare’ electricity they can support a mass switch to electric vehicles? Again, very few so far…maybe Norway, possibly Sweden in a few decades.

    We haven’t mentioned the range problem either. Solvable but only if you spend a fortune on batteries.

  18. Buckey Turk says:

    Man, what a poorly written article for a technical point. We have Kilos, Tons, Kilograms etc. If you want to make a point about something how about stick with one unit of measure (I would use Kilos to save space). Poorly written gives rise to the question, poorly sourced? Poorly translated? Poorly analyzed ?

  19. Jerakeen says:

    What isn’t mentioned is that these batteries have an average life expectancy of around 7 years so at that point you either scrap the car because the cost of replacing the batteries is greater than the value of the car or you expend all that CO2 all over again.

    Compare that to a petrol powered car that can, and frequently does last decades more. I have two cars with a total age of 44 years. If they’d been electric I’d have had to replace over 6 sets of batteries.

    Studies have shown that on average the most environmentally friendly car if measured from extraction of the minerals used to produce it to the final recycling of the car is actually an old V8 Jeep. Last for years, simple construction, very few if any exotic materials and almost all recyclable.

  20. oldbrew says:

    Gas electrolyte keeps very cold batteries running
    Ben Coxworth June 16, 2017

    Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have created a new type of electrolyte that allows lithium batteries to work with “excellent performance” at temperatures as low as -60 ºC (-76 ºF).
    . . .
    Additionally, it doesn’t cause the formation of dendrites, which are needle-like lithium deposits which form on battery electrodes, and that can cause the battery to short-circuit.
    [bold added]

  21. When we started building internal combustion engines it took 20 horsed traveling 20 miles to build the car. This was enough manure to fill a dump truck. With 100 million new cars being produced each year that equals in todays world over 100 million dump trucks of manure each year.

    So we can expect that for each battery powered car will have the same amount of manure as this article.

  22. ferdberple says:

    emissions of petrol production for a vehicle during its lifetime?
    1/2 the energy is required to make the vehicle. the other 1/2 to run the vehicle during its lifetime.

  23. a b says:

    The main source of the C02 is the electricity to run the factory (light, heat and air conditioning) to build the car, (and assumes 50% of the electricity comes from burning stuff, most likely coal). But guess what, the factories making internal combustion engines also use electricity. Need to get the robot revolution going and have them work in the dark, without heat or air conditioning.

  24. karroryfer says:

    Did you also count how much CO2 ( & other resources ) cost production of fossil engine and how much cost much frequnt maintenance ?

  25. larsrengersen265 says:

    If you include the fact that Tesla factory will run on solar and include the same life cycle for petrol eg. production of the petrol (apples with apples), then using the data from that study with the calculated CO2 emissions of the production of the battery you can run 46.500 km in an average petrol fuel car.
    So in eight years that would be approximately 5.800 km per year.

  26. Corran says:

    It’s not that simple.

    For example, oil is a finite resource. Even if, let’s say, batteries were 1-1 on emissions, we’re going to run out of oil. And we need it for more important things than burning it. On that alone, we need to move to batteries.

    But also the comparison is the total production of a battery compared to driving a gas car.

    They don’t put into that the co2 emissions to find the oil, get the oil, process the oil, and ship that oil as gas to a gas station. When you do that… poof… suddenly a battery is like 2 years of driving a gas car, not 8 (read this in a study done about 4 years ago before I bought a Nissan Leaf).

  27. Gary says:

    Second hand data study ignoring the fact that all new Tesla bayteries will ne made i Nevada in a factory powered by solar entirely, and also ignores the fact that these batteries are fully recyclable unlike coal and oil. Clearly this is a biased report…who did pay for it, btw?

    [Reply] Line 4 of the article tells you who sponsored the study.

  28. Some dude says:

    Every single thing we make has a carbon footprint. Petrol powered vehicles also “cost” a lot of carbon to create. It’s better to use that carbon footprint to create vehicles that will not further increase our carb production, rather to use it to create more vehicles that continue to emit carbon. Until we invest the time and energy into renewable infrastructure, we will continue to be plagued by these conundrums. But one day we will build electric cars in solar powered factories and recharge our batteries with wi d/solar/hydro-electric power. We will likely never be fully carbon free. But if we invest in infrastructure NOW we will be grateful that we did twenty years from now. I mean, we used to literally power and light the world with whale blubber for fuck’s sake. I’m sure that people said that oil from the ground sounded like pie in the sky.
    Well, here we are moving from oil in the ground to renewable energy. It’s a new paradigm shift and some people will not accept the inevitable need for it. The fossil fuel based economy was built the whale blubber economy and whalers had to switch jobs. Nobody wants to bring back whaling. Likewise, we will have to use/expend fossil fuel to build the renewable infrastructure. Coal miners will have to switch jobs, just like the whalers did. But once we have the new infrastructure and economy in place, nobody will miss the “good old days” of fossil fuels.

  29. Dennis Olson says:

    I don’t think this is correct. Burning fossil fuels for transportation was a necessary step in technical evolution. Now electric car batteries can be charged with solar power. This will help reduce the carbon in the atmosphaere and the oceans. We need to put the carbon back in the ground where it’s supposed to be. Every year electrified transport gets cheaper and less polluting. This is a trend we government support and social awareness. But bring on the critics because it’s their bad ideas that build the foundation of new understanding.

  30. RVD says:

    Incorrect Electric vehicle reduces carbon foot print overall

    [Reply] Assertions need to be backed up by argument, data, links…

  31. tallbloke says:

    Dennis Olson says: Now electric car batteries can be charged with solar power

    A tesla vehicle battery pack takes, considering on-board charger losses of approx 10%, around 93,5 kWh of electricity to charge from 0% to 100%. However, this is not only unrealistic, but also impossible due to the protections Tesla build in that prevent discharging to 0%. More realistic for driving from full to ’empty’ would be 70 kWh, requiring 77 kWh of electricity. Do the maths and see how big the array of solar panels will need to be to charge a Tesla in a day.

    Every year electrified transport gets cheaper and less polluting.

    The environmental standards operated by China in mining Lithium and the rare earth metals for neodynium and solar panel production are terrible, and pollute nearby rivers heavily. If those standards are improved, the price will rise considerably.

    We need to put the carbon back in the ground where it’s supposed to be.

    We are carbon based lifeforms. So are the trees and plants at the base of the food chain. If we “put the carbon back in the ground where it’s supposed to be”, they, and we, will all die. The increase in carbon dioxide in the air over the last fifty years has increased the woody biomass on Earth considerably. The deserts are greening.

  32. Dincan says:

    How can I get a copy of this study?

  33. […] Study: Tesla car battery production releases as much CO2 as 8 years of driving on petrol. […]

  34. Stephen PH says:

    I seem to recall that Concorde was grounded and then abandoned because of the Paris air crash on the 25th July 2000 killing 113. It was found it hit some debris from a previous plane on the take off runway. This Tesla seems to have done the same thing. Warning to electric car drivers, beware of road debris especially metallic objects!

  35. Citro Geoff says:

    Whoever wrote the report should grasp the fundamentals of the English language. It is grammatically incorrect, with phrasing out of kinter with the text. If I could afford it, I would buy a Tesla. This is just scaremongering probably from the oil producing nations who financed the report via some back door organisation.Jealousy all the way!!

  36. larsrengersen265 says:

    The full study can be found here and as you will see it has a lot of nuances and assumptions and bandwidths in their results. It think the study itself is quite good actually.

  37. C,Alvin Scott says:

    It has to be recognised that Burning Fossil Fuels/hydrocarbons causes vast amounts of CO2 which it research has decided is a major cause in Global Warming.

    There is no doubt that irrespective of how more efficient that engineers can make Internal Combustion Engines which use fossil fuels, they will be banned from use firstly in cities and then elsewhere. Like leaded petrol was a dangerous substance to be belched out into the atmosphere likewise CO2 and more closely NOx and Particulate Matter.

    Can Battery Plants be powered by Renewables sure they can and Tesla will lead the way.. However plugging into the grid to recharge simply uses the mix in the grid and that can be over 50% Fossil Fuels.

    One thing becomes clear, BEVs are by No means anywhere near Zero emissions and there has been a lot of false and misleading information.

    I have a concept for a Hydrogen Rotary Engine-generator to power EVs and because this will be super frugal I am confident that there will be an On Demand fuel production system on board the EV. Absolute Zero emissions. No Plug in t Grid and No need for H2 filling stations.

    As a for instance a GM Volt could have this fitted, instead of the petrol engine generator at no increase in costs making the HyPulJet.2.0 powered Volt at least £20,000 less than the present two H2 FCEVs on sale in the UK.

    This is the way to go and I hope that HyPuljet.2.0 shows the way to other innovators

  38. Gavlar says:

    This is nonsense. What emissions are created in the factory creating the internal combustion engine and the thousands of components compared to an electric car? A true like for like comparative would be good.

  39. Stein Ole Strand says:

    “A tesla vehicle battery pack takes, considering on-board charger losses of approx 10%, around 93,5 kWh of electricity to charge from 0% to 100%. However, this is not only unrealistic, but also impossible due to the protections Tesla build in that prevent discharging to 0%. More realistic for driving from full to ’empty’ would be 70 kWh, requiring 77 kWh of electricity. Do the maths and see how big the array of solar panels will need to be to charge a Tesla in a day.”

    You’re looking at it the wrong way.
    The Tesla will use about 2-2,3kWh per 10km.
    If you include charging losses let’s say 2,5kWh per 10km.
    If you drive the car 100km that day you only have to charge it up with 25kWh, not 77kWh.
    The average driving distance of day in Europe is something like 30-40km per day.
    Even me who drives 30.000km or year only have to produce 7.500kWh or year to run my car on 100% renewable electricity.
    Most people drive half as much as I do.

  40. Grzegorz Jaskiewicz says:

    Very funny, but sadly full of Jeremy Clarkson level of lies

  41. djonmustard says:

    What a terribly translated article. In order to get your point across using the written word, one would imagine you would get the wording right and use the correct words. After reading it three times, I’m still not 100% sure what you are on about. “A ‘small proportion of 10-20%”?? Damn that’s accurate!? And ” the calculation is based on the assumption that…blah blah blah?? It’s this fact or hypotheses??

  42. oldbrew says:

    Electric car fans can’t get off the hook by griping about translations, making vague assertions about ‘lies’ or mentioning Jeremy Clarkson.

  43. […] électrique comme panacée, la voiture électrique qui, à peine fabriquée, a déjà balancé 8 ans de consommation dans l’atmosphère, quand ce ne sont pas des vignettes pour des véhicules moins polluants sur le papier […]

  44. oldbrew says:

    Pop Mechanics says: ‘There’s also the fact that you can power your Tesla with rooftop solar’

    Fact? Must be a heck of a big roof 😉

    And solar panels perform badly when they get hot, which they will do if they’re facing the sun for several hours in the day.

  45. Michael Rada says:

    I doubt on the trustful source and (financing) due to one single reason. There is missing the information how much CO2 is being produced during the process of producing standard fuel burning engine. I am working with automotive clients for several years and can tell you that VSM analytics show that to 43 seconds of car production (Value) counts 90 days of Valueless operations and this is just the start.
    If Swedish transport minister is same like Czech counterparts, I am sure the oil lobby is the one who indicates the direction.

  46. oldbrew says:

    At over £60,000 new in the UK the Tesla S is only going to sell to the wealthy, and not many of them either, so will have very little effect on anything.

  47. John M says:

    And the car on fire has wh a t to do with this story ?????

    [reply] see picture caption

  48. Brian Colvin says:

    Would like to know how this compares to the energy used to manufacture a regular gas powered automobile.

  49. oldbrew says:

    Brian C – as the report says: ‘It means that a battery of the Tesla-size contributes more than three times as much emissions as the Nissan Leaf size.’

    So the problem is more to do with the size of the battery than the fact of the battery, when talking of comparisons with non-electric cars. Due to the high price if nothing else Tesla won’t be selling the ‘S’ model by the millions.

  50. Michael Rada says:

    Both “researchers” are closely tight to VOLVO car manufacturer. This is why the report sounds so independent, objective and realistic.

  51. oldbrew says:

    Rada – where’s the evidence?

  52. Michael Rada says:

    Look at LINKEDIN profiles of both persons

  53. Julian Popov says:

    Complete, utter and illiterate nonsense.

    [reply] fail – bald assertions (NB auto-translated from Swedish)

  54. oldbrew says:

    Exclusive: Green energy tycoon in eye of the storm over electric car charging prices

  55. Archibald Alexander Leach says:

    I Wonder if they also can study how much polution that comes out of the refinery and all oilspil and much more side effects.
    Then they will realise that they are wrong.

    [reply] this is about CO2 per vehicle

  56. Cheryl says:

    Not sure I will believe an article that didn’t have a spell check/editor before it went live.

    [reply] the original article was in Swedish

  57. billothewisp says:

    Roger, Do you have access to a copy of the actual study (in English)? For the life of me I can’t find the thing. Besides assorted article(s) on the study any links to the real paper seem to to be broken or lead nowhere. If you have a working link to the study itself – I’d be grateful for it. Thanks

  58. oldbrew says:

    “Today, 86 percent of electricity in the U.S. comes from nonrenewable sources”

  59. tallbloke says:

    Pop mech has a ‘debunking’ of the Swedish study. They say a 4.0l Audi V8 will only do 2.3 years better than a Tesla battery:

    They don’t say what the emissions are from recharging Tesla batteries in winter though. Or that the range of the car is reduced to about 20 miles if you put the heating on to stop your teeth chattering while you drive…

  60. oldbrew says:

    TB – re: ‘They say a 4.0l Audi V8 will only do 2.3 years better than a Tesla battery’

    But that’s a test to find the worst, not the best 😂

  61. Laddy says:

    Gas cars emit CO not CO2 but humans exhale CO2 so how do we compare?

  62. […] radních a jejich Rádců neunikne ani článek o škodlivosti elektrických aut vypracovaný na objednávku Švédského Ministerstva Dopravy institutem IVL SWEDISH ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE, resp. jeho dvěma pracovníky, kterými […]

  63. oldbrew says:

    Recharging an electric car in the US will be mainly i.e. about 65% from fossil fuel electricity sources.

    ‘In 2016, about 4.08 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale facilities in the United States. About 65% of this electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases)’

  64. Jason Elmore says:

    Telsa offsets any CO2 emissions at their factory with huge solar farms in other parts of the country. Apple does the same thing. They pay $0 in carbon tax. The factory has not even ramped up to full production or full implementation. They will no doubt become much cleaner as time goes by.

    The batteries last 10 -15 years so even if your study was correct (its not) it’s still better than petrol

  65. oldbrew says:

    Offsets are all very well, but what comes out of the electricity grid is still a mix of all the inputs.

    In 2016, about 4.08 trillion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity were generated at utility-scale facilities in the United States. About 65% of this electricity generation was from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases)

  66. Ronnie says:

    In Sweden, this study is considered to be a joke. It was published in a newspaper called “Ny Teknik”.

    [reply] assertion alert

  67. Bjørn says:

    These numbers only make sense if you compare them with the co2 impact of producing fossil cars.

  68. oldbrew says:

    Date: 24/11/17 London Evening Standard

    Tesla will run out of cash on Monday August 6, at 2.17am New York time. So says an analysis by Bloomberg, which claims the electric-car maker is burning through its cash pile at the rate of $8000 a minute, or $480,000 an hour.

    Maybe California will bail them out.

  69. stpaulchuck says:

    “There were ‘three quarters of a ton of termites for every person on earth.’ Who weighed them? 😉”

    Oldbrew you wag! but yes, a decent enough question that. I’m sitting presently in the Philippines surrounded by termite mounds all over the area. Numerically I’m sure there’s way more of them than us just by observation. But then there’s Minnesota and Canada. I don’t think we’ve got many there.

    So maybe they took a sample somewhere and then applied their temperature “adjustments” algorithms to come up with a world wide number just like the magic temperatures in South America and Africa.

  70. stpaulchuck says:

    Bjørn, it wouldn’t be car to car per se. It would be engine to engine.

    also consider the ruination of many miles of the surface from the mining of rare earths for electric motors and windmill generators combined with the CO2 costs of refining and manufacturing them into products and then transporting them.