Is Your Electric Car as Eco-Friendly as You Thought?

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a powerful weapon in the world’s fight to beat global warming, yet their impact varies greatly from country to country and in some places they pollute more than gasoline models, data analysis shows. Get to know from.

In Europe, where sales are growing the fastest in the world, EVs Poland and Kosovo actually generate more carbon emissions because the grids are dependent on coal, according to data compiled by research consultancy Radiant Energy Group (REG).

Elsewhere around Europe, however, the picture is better, although relative carbon savings depend on grid supplies and the time of day vehicles are charged.

According to the study shared with Reuters, the best-performing nuclear and hydroelectric-powered Switzerland with 100 percent carbon savings are gasoline vehicles, Norway 98 percent, France 96 percent, Sweden 95 percent and Austria 93 percent.

In laggards, Cyprus has 4 percent, Serbia 15 percent, Estonia 35 percent and the Netherlands 37 percent. An EV driver in Europe’s largest carmaker Germany, which relies on a mix of renewable energy and coal, saves 55 percent of greenhouse gas, data also shows.

Graphic on CO2 emissions avoids when choosing an electric vehicle
photo credit: Reuters

In countries such as Germany or Spain that have large investments in solar and wind, the lack of renewable energy storage means that the amount of carbon saved by running an EV depends on the time of day you recharge.

Charging in the afternoon – when sun and wind are more prevalent – ​​saves 16-18 percent more carbon than at night, when the grid is more likely to run on gas or coal.

The analysis, based on public data from Europe’s transmission system operator transparency platform ENTSO-e and the European Environment Agency (EEA), comes ahead of discussions on transport on Wednesday. COP26 Summit

It showed that the auto industry’s ability to reduce emissions depends on decarbonizing the electricity grid and finding better ways to store renewable energy – challenges many European countries have yet to address.

Lithium-ion batteries are only able to store energy at full capacity for up to four hours, which means countries sourcing significant amounts of solar and wind power during the day to keep it on tap for nighttime charging do struggle.

Climate EU EV Charging Reuters

Graphic on the effect of time of day for charging electric vehicles
photo credit: Reuters

footprint inequality

The German and US-based REG researchers said that as long as consistent, low-carbon energy is available across the region, EV drivers are keen to reduce their footprint and that engineers designing charging infrastructure will need to take these disparities into account.

“Electricity has the potential to decarbonize transport in a way that internal-combustion engines never will,” said researcher Sid Bagga.

“But the carbon impact of electrification varies dramatically depending on a country’s energy mix … countries must adopt reliable and achievable electricity decarbonization strategies if the EV transition is to be successful.”

The emissions gap between electric and gasoline-powered vehicles has narrowed in recent years as automakers know they will need to meet EU carbon reduction targets, while still selling most internal combustion engine cars. have made their engines more fuel-efficient.

As a result, the carbon intensity of newly registered gasoline-powered cars in Europe fell an average of 25 percent between 2006 and 2016, according to EEA data.

EV sales in Europe have been driven by government subsidies and regulations against new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars from 2035. One in five vehicles sold in Europe last quarter was electrified, and consultancy Ernst & Young expects sales of zero-emissions models to overtake ICE. fully by 2028.

vehicle manufacturers involved General Motors, stellantis, And Volkswagen Having set a goal of selling electric vehicles mostly or exclusively in Europe in the coming years, GM is committed to an electric European lineup by 2022 and Volkswagen is targeting 70 percent all-electric sales by 2030.

The REG study was based on data from January 1 to October 15, 2021. It compared the emissions from charging an electric vehicle. Tesla Model 3 efficiency to drive 100 km with emissions generated by refueling the average gasoline-powered vehicle the same distance.

Countries where charging an electric vehicle is more than 85 percent cleaner than driving a gasoline-powered car tend to have consistently low-carbon energy supply sources, namely hydroelectric or nuclear.

Even so, there are no hard and fast rules on which energy source leads to the lowest carbon supply in the European Union at what time: for example, the wind blows more at night in Sweden.

Charging an EV in Ireland, which sources 46 percent of its energy from renewables, saves roughly the same proportion of carbon as in Moldova, which sources 94 percent of its energy from gas, the study found, as Ireland The backup fossil fuels are more carbon-intensive. ,

“Ireland produces a greater amount of zero-carbon electricity than Moldova – but it generates about 13 percent of its electricity from oil (1.8x dirtier than gas), 9 percent from coal (2.3x dirtier than gas) And 3 percent comes from electricity. Peat (2.6x dirtier than gas),” said Bagga.

© Thomson Reuters 2021