Many electric car advocates are heralding the advent of Tesla’s enormous battery factory, known as the “Gigafactory,” and its new Model 3 electric sedan as great advances for the environment. What they are overlooking are the large quantities of energy and resources that are consumed in lithium-ion battery manufacturing and how these quantities might increase in the future as the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage ramps up.
Most of the credible life cycle assessment (LCA) studies for different lithium-ion chemistries find large greenhouse gas emissions per kWh of battery. Here are the CO2-eq emissions per kWh with the battery chemistry listed in parentheses:
Hao et al. (2017): 110 kg (LFP), 104 kg (NMC), 97 kg (LMO)
Ellingsen et al. (2014): 170 kg (NMC)
Dunn et al. (2012): 40 kg (LMO)
Majeau-Bettez et al. (2011): 200 kg (NMC), 240 kg (LFP)
Ou et al (2010): 290 kg (NMC)
Zackrisson et al (2010): 440 kg (LFP)