How can the Circular Economy help us meet the electrification challenge?
NOCs, IOCs, NECs and IECs
As the global energy transition gathers pace, every major industry is looking for ways to decarbonise without undermining profit and efficiency. This is especially true of the transportation sector, which has the highest reliance on fossil fuels accounting for 37% of CO2 emissions from end‐use sectors. But the world relies on transport to function so finding a green solution is critical. Some experts think they’ve found one - electrification.
This simply means using electricity to power vehicles that are traditionally powered by fossil fuels. The electricity could in turn be produced by fully renewable sources, or a mixture of renewable and fossil fuel. Advocates believe it will enable the transportation sector to radically decrease emissions.
Electrification has long been a major focus of environmental discussions, and a range of campaigns and commercial attention has focused on public implementation of electric cars. A multilateral agreement signed at COP26 saw a broad coalition of nations, corporates, and public bodies commit to implementing 100% zero-emission sales of new vehicles in leading markets by 2035, and globally by 2040.
This was an important step in the transition to electric vehicles, but critics point out that commitments are one thing, but properly addressing the challenges of electrification is another. Sceptics of electrification note that the full life cycle of electric vehicles must be considered in any commitment to electrification if the world is to avoid creating resource issues that could undermine climate goals. Manufacturing electric vehicles is resource intensive, and it remains unclear whether the necessary resources will be available, at least in the short term, to meet that increasing demand.
The impact of end-of-life vehicle recycling is also a potential issue. The high metal content of electric vehicles makes a good business case for recycling, and processes are in place to recover and reuse these materials. However, price fluctuations for secondary materials influence that business case, and the increasing amount of residual material means some resources will be wasted.
One solution could be taking a broader circular-economy approach. Advocates say that the management of the end of life of electric vehicles could be factored in from the beginning. This would reduce their environmental impact and ensure that trade-offs are minimised in achieving the necessary climate goals.
Two important principles of the circular economy are to eliminate waste and pollution, and to keep products and materials in use. Applying these principles to electric vehicles not only ensures valuable and finite materials like lithium are circulated in the economy, it also increases wider energy efficiency, and helps countries and industries meet their net-zero emissions targets.
These are among the important challenges that will be discussed at ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi. Attendees will be able to gain an expert insight into the future of the transportation and mobility ecosystem, and how latest innovation can make it work. As part of our Perspectives on Innovation conference, we will be hosting a session on “Revolutionising The New Mobility Ecosystem: How Will The Future Of Transportation Change Energy Demand?”. Here we will address what needs to change to encourage a collaborative approach between policy makers and the energy industry, what the opportunities are for electric vehicle growth, and how the shortage of materials such as nickel influence market development.
Don’t miss out on #ADIPEC2022 taking place between 31 October and 3 November in Abu Dhabi, UAE.