Human Power vs Electric : Bicycles are still the future. 


We all need to have to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050.  We need to drop our CO2 consumption by 60% by 2050.  This is going to require a  re-orientation of human values and consumption.

  • 3 tonne target limit per year = this is the CO2e allowance per person per year 
  • 3 metric tonnes as apposed to the imperial ton.
  • 1 metric tonne = 1000kg (1,000,000 grams) so the maths is very easy..
  • 10 tonnes of CO2 is currently the UK average...
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At the moment the UK makes electricity from mixed sources including coal and gas.  Both of which produce CO2. 

The UK currently produces 0.507kgCO2 per kWh

A bicycle has a CO2 footprint of less than 100kg.  How does an E-Bike compare to that?  

Assuming that the frames will weigh slightly more and adding the CO2 footprint of a battery.  Batteries are also a major components at present are nickel, lithium, copper, cobalt, graphite, and aluminum, and sometimes manganese which all involve the exploits of mining.  

Manufacturing a battery emits an average of 150 kg of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of battery capacity.

A 500Wh battery produces 75kg of CO2 per to make. This is a larger CO2e footprint than any frame material.  Batteries also need replacing every 5 years, but overall this is not bad compared to car production.

Another thing to consider is the extra weight that you need to carry.  Can you lift this extra weight onto a roof rack, into your house, up the stairs?  

Mountain biking??  500Wh would not get you across the South Downs Way (160km / 100miles).  

The best estimate for hilly and gravel surfaces is 140km at 10km/h.  This is a popular ride for the charity British Heart Foundation and many rider complete this in one day.

So a carbon footprint for an e-Bike is 250kg or 1/4Tonne of CO2e.

However if an E-Bike means 1 less car then that is a good thing.  There is a market for electric freight bikes that would replace those short distance shopping trips.

E-Bike vs E-Car Comparisons:

  • An E-bike has a 0.5kWh battery producing 250g of CO2 per charge (with a 140km range).
  • Nissan Leaf has a 30kWh battery producing 8.5kg of CO2 per charge (172km range).

If we all used a combination of walking cycling and e-Bikes then the transport infrastructure would be under pressure to change.  This would make things cleaner and safer for everybody.