In recent months, the proliferation of app-based electric scooters has become a prominent feature in many of the world's major cities. Theoretically, they offer a convenient, on-demand, and accessible mode of transportation powered by electricity, which, in general, is considered less environmentally detrimental than traditional gasoline or other fossil fuels.
However, the ecological equation is not as straightforward as it may seem. In the realm of environmental impact, determining the true eco-friendliness of one technology over another requires delving into several key questions. What latent pollution is generated by electric scooters, whether during their manufacturing process or while being charged with electricity? What tangible additional benefits do they bring compared to pre-existing technologies? how long is e scooter expected to last, and how efficiently can it be recycled at the conclusion of its lifecycle? In a comparative analysis with established modes of transportation, are electric scooters eco friendly?
The ongoing debate surrounding the ecological superiority of different modes of transport has intensified, particularly with the surge in the global market share of electric cars. Detractors argue that electric cars may be more environmentally detrimental than traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles, pointing to concerns about lithium-ion battery production and recycling, as well as the extraction of rare metals and electricity production in regions reliant on oil or coal-based grids.
Conversely, proponents emphasize the eco-friendly nature of electric cars, especially in terms of reduced emissions during the usage phase, particularly when coupled with decarbonized energy from a grid based on renewable energies. In the current landscape, backed by a multitude of scientific studies, there is a growing consensus that electric cars are generally more environmentally friendly than their diesel or gasoline counterparts.
However, the ecological impact assessment becomes more intricate when it comes to electric scooters. Given the novelty of this phenomenon, gaining comprehensive perspective on all its encompassing impacts remains a challenge. While the popularity of electric scooters is on the rise, limited reports have delved into this complex question. Nevertheless, some studies have endeavored to assess the ecological footprint of electric scooters, particularly in the context of shared usage scenarios. Let's explore the current state of knowledge on this subject based on existing studies.
Challenges in the Eco-Friendliness of Electric Scooters: Unveiling the Environmental Quandary
The primary comprehensive study scrutinizing various phases of electric scooters is the one published by North Carolina State University. According to the findings from this research, electric scooters may not currently be deemed as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. In terms of carbon footprint, scooters emit approximately 202 g of CO2 per km per passenger over their entire life cycle. This is comparable to a conventional car and 3.5 times more than an electric car.
These results stem from several key factors. Firstly, the manufacturing phase carries significant weight, necessitating the construction of a battery for each scooter, which, in turn, only accommodates the transportation of a single person. Approximately 50% of the carbon impact is attributed to the vehicle's production. The second major challenge arises during the charging of electric scooters. The process involves collecting and relocating them for recharging, often utilizing trucks that emit CO2. This contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions, constituting 43% of the total. In the grand scheme, energy production represents slightly less than 5% of the greenhouse gas balance of electric scooters.
However, the fundamental issue with electric scooters lies in their usage patterns. The study assumed a lifespan of approximately 1 year for scooters, significantly amplifying their negative ecological impact. Since they are predominantly used for only a few hundred kilometers, the adverse effects of batteries are not sufficiently diluted. In contrast, cars are utilized for several years, typically covering around 200,000 km or more.
Furthermore, researchers identified that the primary strategy to mitigate the environmental impact of scooters is to extend their lifespan. If scooters were used for 2 years, the emissions would reduce to 141 g of CO2 per km per passenger (still twice as high as driving an electric car). However, current real-world conditions indicate that electric scooters have a lifespan of less than 1 month (as observed in Kentucky) due to factors such as breakage, disposal in rivers, or inadequate maintenance. Therefore, as shared on-demand mobility gains popularity, it is imperative that electric scooters are used responsibly to enhance their longevity and transform them into a genuinely ecological alternative.
Are electric scooters eco friendly?E-scooters represent a relatively sustainable mode of transportation, yet there is untapped potential to make them even more environmentally friendly. According to Shaheen, both public and private sectors can contribute to the sustainability of e-scooter sharing systems by implementing solar docking stations where feasible. Utilizing clean or renewable energy sources for charging e-scooters and incorporating electric vehicles for scooter distribution can further amplify their eco-friendly impact.
The transition to electric vehicles for tasks such as rebalancing and charging e-scooters, coupled with the adoption of renewable energy sources, has the capacity to significantly reduce the reliance on fossil fuels throughout the e-scooter lifecycle and operational processes. Surprisingly, most e-scooter companies have not extensively explored these possibilities. In 2019, Spin initiated a 60-day pilot program, deploying numerous solar-powered docking stations in Washington D.C. and Ann Arbor. However, the outcomes of this initiative remain unclear.
Shaheen emphasizes the potential of employing pricing strategies and incentives to influence pick-up and drop-off behavior, thereby diminishing the necessity for frequent scooter network rebalancing. This aligns with the recommendations from the 2019 study, advocating for reduced collection and distribution distances to mitigate the environmental footprint of e-scooters. The study further proposes the usage of more efficient vehicles, prolonging scooter lifetimes, and adopting less frequent charging practices.If you want to learn more about e scooters ,come to JOYOR.