Built on the pre-facelifted BMW x5 model, the BMW ix5 hydrogen model is a glimpse into the future, a truly unconventional car that gives a conventional feel. Although the design element provides a staple BMW feel and comfort, its functionality and operational mechanisms are a look into the orbuculum.
And this new tech-savvy invention propels the question - are EV’s a thing of the past?
Are EVs Really Eco-Friendly?
EVs were once considered a futuristic invention. And BMW’s EVs and other EV brands like Tesla have convinced the world into believing this vehicle’s numerous merits with a keen focus on its eco-friendliness.
Although it is unfair to discredit EVs for being relatively eco-friendlier when compared to traditionally gas-run in terms of carbon footprint and greenhouse emissions, it is important to learn more about how they’re created and what kind of waste they produce that eventually contributes to our global environmental crisis at present.
To understand the hazards posed by a world-wide transition to EVs, it is important to take a deeper dive into fuel creation and consumption.
How Is Electricity for EVs Produced?
It is important to remember that the electricity produced to supplement the EVs is produced mostly via burning black and brown coal at larger power stations, as declared by the Energy Department of Australia.
Let’s shed some light on the carbon footprint of Australians in general and emissions worldwide. One Australian produces 4x more carbon than an average individual in the world. 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide was released by an average Aussie in 2021.
The electricity used by EVs to fuel up is a HUGE contributor to this pollution. Although the intention is pure, its implications are more dangerous than we choose to acknowledge.
The promise of EVs for a safer and greener world therefore seems to shatter under the weight of its excessive carbon emissions and pollution.
On the flip side of the argument, many push forth the notion of transitioning from non-renewable sources like coal to renewable sources like solar power for fuel generation. In fact, Between 2020-2021, almost 10% of electricity was generated by solar power in Australia.
Solar panels, which are the spinal cord of solar energy, are typically made of a combination of lead, cadmium and mercury. These chemicals seep into the earth and basically evaporate into the atmosphere. The waste produced not just from these chemicals as well as the disposal of the solar panels is 300x more toxic than NUCLEAR WASTE.
Sure, using the sun to produce energy is a great idea. But the execution needs to be appropriate, which is unfortunately uncared for.
Since the proper disposal of solar panels costs way more than production, proper measures to safely dispose of the waste are not taken.
As a result, this waste gets dumped into poor, struggling third-world countries. The used up panels are dumped into the landfills of these deprived countries, which creates a heap of ‘green waste’.
According to scientists, there will be up to 8 million tons of green waste in the world and this number will hit the baffling figure of 80 million tons of green waste by 2050.
How Are EV Batteries Produced?
Let’s take a step back though.
Many pro-EV groups argue that eventually better means of disposal will emerge, allowing EVs to become truly as eco-friendly as they’re marketed to be.
However, it is important to understand how they’re created and what they comprise of.
Coming to the actual production of the EVs, it’s important to note what’s inside them. EV batteries are composed of thousands of lithium-ion cells. In order to produce these batteries, lithium needs to be mined.
According to The Guardian, Lithium mining causes:
Mass-scale water and land pollution
Disturbance to indigenous peoples and villages
Hazards to the environment as it requires gallons and gallons of water, while being mined in drought-stricken areas leading to water repletion
With EV batteries having lithium as their core component, it's critical to remember that it’s not always the usage but also the source that’s important to be eco-friendly.
Unfortunately, the production of EV batteries – without which the cars can’t run – is cause for alarm!
Analysing Hydrogen As A Better Alternative
With all this being said, it’s high time we start looking for better eco-friendly alternatives that do not jeopardise the future of our planet, such as hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
For this purpose, we’ll be assessing the new BMW iX5 Hydrogen Concept car and its merits as a potential substitute to EVs.
The iX5 hydrogen is based on the BMW iX, an all-electric SUV that was also revealed in 2021. However, instead of relying solely on a battery pack, the iX hydrogen uses a fuel cell stack to convert hydrogen into electricity, which powers the electric motor. The fuel cell stack is backed up by a small battery pack that stores excess energy and provides additional power during acceleration.
According to BMW, the iX hydrogen has a range of around 300 miles (500 kilometres) on a single tank of hydrogen, and can be refuelled in just a few minutes. However, it is important to note that the iX hydrogen is still a concept car and is not currently available for purchase.
BMW has not announced any plans to bring the iX hydrogen to market at this time. Comparing the range and refuel time with EVs, you come to realise what a miraculous invention the hydrogen model is, nonetheless.
Most people would talk about how there are so few hydrogen recharging stations whereas you can find charging stations for EVs literally anywhere. But just like EV charging stations were built, hydrogen charging stations can also be installed. In fact, BMW is even considering integrating a hydrogen refuelling system into the currently-available fuel stations to save costs.
The Key TakeAway
Hydrogen may still be a concept so far, yet it is the way forward. It's important to give BMW its due credit for reflecting upon the current climate crisis, and developing a highly functional hydrogen concept solution that could be integrated into our lives not too far into the future.