EV CO2 emissions fall to record low through green energy sources

EV CO2 emissions fall to record low through green energy sources

A gradual move away from coal has brought about a new minimum CO2 output for cars running on electric power, a new study has found

Electric vehicles now contribute to less CO2 emissions than ever, through increasing use of renewable energy sources. 

A report produced by Imperial College London partnering with energy company Drax, shows that EV emissions – produced by electricity generation in power stations which is then transferred to EVs when charging – fell by 10% compared with last year, and is up to a third of what it was five years ago. 

The carbon intensity (grams per kilometre) of electric vehicles has dramatically decreased, with the Tesla Model S falling from 124g/km in Winter 2012 to 74g/km in Winter 2016, to 41g/km today. EVs are generally less efficient in winter, so the real average figure lies somewhere between the two. 

The scientist behind the Electric Insights report, Imperial College London’s Iain Staffell, explained that as the UK continues to move away from coal-fired power stations to natural gas and biomass, as well as renewable energy sources, the emissions will continue to fall. This reduction can be sustained for another 12-24 months, before slowing as the reductions in emissions become harder to achieve. 

“Emissions are already reducing faster than has been targeted in the commitment to climate change’s recommendation to governments; we’re doing better than anyone would have expected five years ago,” said Staffell. 

“It’s very important that the public knows the decrease of carbon emissions by electric vehicle energy demand, because any time you have a story about EVs or the recent example of the Government banning petrol and diesel by 2040, there are people saying the electricity isn’t clean so EVs aren’t that green.”

“It’s useful that we have conclusively shown that it doesn’t matter if you’re charging in summer or winter, size of car doesn’t matter, it’s better than the best petrol hybrid can do. The people who are wanting to do the right thing by the environment will be pleased to know that we’ve cleaned up the power sector.

Speaking of the Government’s recent future ban on petrol and diesel sales from 2040, Staffell predicted that by that time, people will be buying EVs over petrol and diesel cars for their benefits over ICE powertrains, and they won’t be any more expensive than petrol or diesel cars. 

The carbon intensity of EVs will fall further as solar farm and wind power projects are completed, but Staffell said that it’s “difficult to understand what the Government wants” in terms of renewable energies, given its pulling of solar power subsidies, and its previous opposition to wind power, but subsequent support of Welsh and Scottish wind farms.

Reports of not having enough power to support the EV uptake were also quelled by Staffell, who explains: “Electricity demands have shrunk by 15% in the last ten years, so there’s quite a lot of room in the system [for EVs]. It would take many millions of EVs to get us back to the level of demand we had in 2005 for example.”

A report by UBS predicted EV sales to climb to 30% of the new car market in Europe by 2025 and 14% globally, and that once longer-distance EVs can compete on price with a  Volkswagen Golf and are demonstrably cheaper to run over five years, annual sales of EVs will be five to six million. 

Read more: 

Analysis: How will the UK handle the EV revolution?

Insight: why demand from China is spurring growth of electric car sales

Hybrids exempt from Britain’s petrol and diesel car ban

Queen’s speech: Government establishes autonomous and electric vehicle bill

The road that charges your electric car

Source: Autocar Online

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