Karel Snyman from the South African National Energy Development Institute said electric vehicles are much cleaner than petrol vehicles, even if Eskom power is used.
Speaking on CapeTalk, Snyman said that thanks to the high efficiency of electric vehicles, they only use a fraction of the energy of petrol vehicles.
This means electric vehicles are cleaner, and therefore better for the environment, than petrol vehicles – even if electricity from coal power stations is used.
“Coal energy is still three-times cleaner than burning petrol in a car,” said Snyman.
For those who want to be as clean as possible, the best option is to use an electric car and charge it using power from photovoltaic cells, he said.
“There is no way that anything that you burn can be cleaner than sunshine.”
Battery environmental concern
Snyman also downplayed the concern that electric vehicles are more damaging to the environment, as their batteries are not easy to dispose of in a clean way.
Snyman said the recycling of vehicle batteries is a certainty in future, which partly solves the disposal problem.
“The modern batteries which we currently use in vehicles have a second life outside of the car,” he said.
He said when a battery loses over 20% of its power, which shortens the vehicle’s range, it is typically replaced.
This means the battery still has 80% of its capacity left, which has value for storing renewable energy.
He said the lithium in the batteries can also be extracted and recycled, which makes for a clean life cycle of a battery.