Electric vehicles emit less greenhouse gases, even when charged on the grid with ‘dirty’ electricity such as coal
While electric vehicles are getting a lot of attention, critics question whether they’re much better for the environment than gas-guzzlers, especially if they’re charged from a “dirty” electricity grid that relies on coal or other non-renewable resources.
However, a new report from the International Council for Clean Transport (ICCT) indicates that EVs emit fewer greenhouse gases over their lifetime, regardless of the grid they are connected to.
“Even for India and China, which still rely heavily on coal, the life cycle benefits of BEVs are present today,” said Peter Mock, ICCT’s director for Europe. in a statement.
The study looked at greenhouse gases (GHG) in Europe, the US, China and India, which are responsible for about 70 percent of all new car sales combined.
According to ICCT’s statement, contrary to other assessments, it considered both current and projected emissions “attributable to every stage in the life cycle of both vehicles and fuels – from the extraction and processing of raw materials through refining and production to exploitation.” and eventual recycling or disposal.’
It dug into a variety of energy sources, including plug-in hybrids, biofuels, hydrogen and electricity.
Building an EV is still more carbon-intensive than building a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE), but EV drivers will recoup their carbon footprint after about a year, ICCT researcher Georg Bieker said. The edge.
Over the lifetime of average medium-sized electric vehicles registered, the emissions are already 66-69 percent lower than comparable petrol cars in Europe, 60-68 percent in the US, 37-45 percent in China and 19-34 percent in India.
That gap will only widen as the electricity mix remains low-carbon, the authors said.
While Musk said all of the company’s 25,000 Superchargers would eventually be available to non-Tesla drivers, it’s not clear whether the service will be available first in Europe or rolled out globally at the same time.
Only battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) powered by renewable electricity can achieve profound reductions in GHG emissions from transport consistent with the Paris Agreement goal to global warming well below 2°C,” the report states.
“There is no realistic path to that goal that relies on combustion engine vehicles, including hybrids of any kind.”
The new report contradicts a November 2020 study by a group of automakers showing that the production of electric vehicles generates 63 percent more carbon dioxide than making models that run on gas or diesel.
That report – commissioned by Honda , Aston Martin, Bosch and McLaren – found that some so-called zero-emission vehicles have to be driven nearly 50,000 miles before they are as ‘green’ as cars powered by fossil fuels.
Even in India, which uses an energy grid that still relies heavily on coal, electric vehicles emit 19-34 percent less greenhouse gases than cars that run on fossil fuels
It found that the production of Volvo’s all-electric Polestar 2 generates 24 tons of carbon dioxide, compared to 14 tons for a gas-powered Volvo XC40.
“You would have to drive 48,700 miles in a Polestar 2 before its carbon footprint gets smaller than that of a Volvo XC40,” the researchers said. “Similar results have been shown by Volkswagen studies comparing the e-Golf to the diesel Golf.”
The report was released in response to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to ban the sale of new gas and diesel vehicles from 2030.
A comparison of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of different passenger car options indicates that electric vehicles ultimately have the lowest carbon footprint
The carmakers claimed electric vehicles were ‘not a panacea’ in helping the UK reach net zero emissions by 2050, but ICCT says they are not looking at the entire life of the car.
“We have a lot of lobbying from parts of the car industry saying that electric vehicles are not that much better when you take electricity production and battery production into account,” Bieker told The Verge. “We wanted to investigate this and see if these arguments are correct.”
About 231,000 all-electric vehicles were sold in the US in 2020, a decrease of 3.2 percent from the previous year. according to Pew Research.
All-EVs (excluding plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles) account for about 2 percent of annual US sales.
There are about 10.2 million electric vehicles around the world, but the US has only 17 percent of them — far behind China, which has more than 4.5 million, or 44 percent of the world’s total stock.
High initial costs and a lack of chargers on residential roads are the cause of the stagnant demand, with zero-emission cars still considered a luxury by many households.
But incentives, such as federal and state tax credits for electric cars, can bring the price down to the same level as a typical internal combustion engine car.
Federal and state tax credits can lower the price of an electric vehicle to the same level as a typical internal combustion engine car. In addition, the average EV driver saves between $700 and $1,600 a year in fuel costs and nearly 50 percent in maintenance costs, “thanks to a cleaner, more streamlined system under the hood.”
And, according to to the Sierra Club, the average EV driver will save between $700 and $1,600 a year on fuel costs and nearly 50 percent on maintenance costs “through a cleaner, more streamlined system under the hood.”
“Electric vehicles are cleaner than vehicles powered by dirty fossil fuels, period,” the group added. “An all-electric vehicle uses electricity to power a battery—meaning no gasoline, no dirty oil changes, and no combustion engine.”
In regions such as the west coast of the US, which are more dependent on wind and hydro power, emissions from electric vehicles are already significantly lower.
“As we decommission more coal-fired power plants and bring cleaner energy sources online, emissions from charging electric vehicles will drop even further,” the Sierra Club said in a statement. “In addition, overnight charging will increase the chances of taking advantage of wind energy in some areas – another way to further reduce emissions.”
Earlier this week, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla will soon make its more than 17,000 Supercharger stations available for other brands of EVs.
HYBRID VEHICLES EXPLAINED
A hybrid vehicle has two power sources – a petrol engine and an electric motor – that together propel the cars.
By seamlessly switching between pure electric power at low speeds and efficient gasoline power at higher speeds, these vehicles not only save fuel and money, but also reduce CO2 emissions.
Hybrids are self-charging, meaning your battery is charged every moment you drive by using technology such as a regenerative braking system, which recovers energy that would normally be lost and stores it in the battery for later use.
Self-charging hybrids do not need to be plugged in.
A plug-in hybrid gets all the benefits of a hybrid, but also has a charging point, so you can increase the range of your car by plugging it in at home or at one of the national electric charging points.