Does Electric Bikes really reduce the Climate Warming?
As more and more evidence mounts pointing to the enormous climate impact of humans, many of us are looking for every method possible for reaching climate goals. Transportation is one of the biggest contributing factors to greenhouse gases. Therefore, it makes sense that looking at ways to improve transportation options should be a part of climate plans. However, the question remains whether electric bikes should be part of the conversation.
Electric Bikes Are Zero-Emissions Vehicles
The first and most important thing to recognize about electric bikes is that they emit nothing when they are running. Electric batteries and motors are about as pure an expression of storing and using power as currently exists. There are no chemical reactions and no byproducts.
That is good news for everyone. It is well-established that greenhouse gases impact the temperature of the earth, playing a major role in human-caused climate change. However, there is a shorter-term and more local benefit too. Zero-emissions vehicles don’t produce any dirty and unpleasant smog. While modern internal combustion engines are nowhere near as bad as their ancestors, they aren’t perfect. Electric power can make a huge difference in this arena.
Electricity Is More Efficient
The biggest problem with electric vehicles is the low energy density of current battery technology. This is likely to improve with time, making electric bikes and other vehicles even more practical. However, they make up for this in terms of energy efficiency. Electric motors can convert a relatively small amount of electrical energy into serious power.
While electric vehicles don’t have emissions, producing electricity can. Despite this, the efficiency of electric vehicles helps ensure lower overall emissions, even if the electricity is produced with fossil fuels.
Furthermore, the low weight of electric bikes means that they are less hampered by the low energy density of batteries compared to electric cars and trucks. In short, they are the ultimate expression of a low-emissions, high-efficiency vehicle. From the perspective of low energy consumption, there are almost no better alternative forms of powered transportation.
Electric Bikes Are Serious Transportation
One of the main reasons that detractors don’t consider electric bikes in the climate question is that they are often viewed as novelties. However, electric bikes are a serious transportation mode.
E-bikes could be used as a primary method of commuting for billions of people year-round. While it is fair to say that an electric bike wouldn’t be very useful in snow or excessive rain, it can be excellent in other conditions. If more people would replace half of their annual commutes with electric bike rides, it would have a huge impact.